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Townhouses vs Apartments: Which is Right for Me?

By: Susan Finch
April 8, 2020

You're ready to expand your horizons, move into a bigger space, and build a future in a brand-new home. But what's the difference between the listings for all of the apartments, condos, and townhouses? 

What is a townhouse and how are they different from other dwellings?

What is a Townhouse?

Townhouses, also called townhomes, aren't new. They’ve been around for centuries. As the name implies, townhouses are usually in town or residential areas of a city. 

People often overlook these units in favor of single-family homes or modern condos. However, they’re seeing a resurgence in the marketplace. 

There’s a demand for convenient, low-maintenance dwellings. Townhomes are often near walkable commerce and other areas.

Townhouses can be cozy to oversized with multiple stories. Smaller townhouses may have a kitchen and common area on the first floor, followed by bedrooms upstairs. 

It's also common to have an office or room on the first floor. Then, some have a shared space and kitchen on the second floor. You’ll sometimes find multiple bedrooms on the top floor. 

Depending on your townhouse community, you may also have an onsite garden, pool, fitness center, and other amenities. 

Now that you know what a townhome is, who are they for? 

Townhouses are ideal for anyone looking to upgrade to a larger space. These dwellings are also increasingly popular with families looking for more amenities without the upkeep. 

Some townhouses even have their own enclosed yards or patios. Those offer more flexibility for kids.

Apartments are usually smaller and offer flexible floor designs. You can opt for multiple bedrooms to bunk with roommates. You can also choose between a studio or efficiency apartment to live solo while keeping costs low.

Modern apartment complexes usually feature the best amenities. Those include rooftop balconies, pools, and onsite parking. They may also include fitness centers, entertainment areas, and more.

Differences Between Townhouses and Apartments

There are some critical differences between townhouses and apartments. Those may impact your rental experience. 

Owners usually are the ones who rent out townhomes.  A property management company usually rents out apartments. 

Sometimes, townhouse owners will employ a property manager. That person deals with finding tenants and keeping up the home.

You may notice some units are listed as apartments and others as condos. Condos typically look like an apartment. However, a resident often owns them. They’re therefore your landlord. 

Apartments are rental units. Like townhome communities, condos also rely on HOA fees to fix standard amenities.

Townhouses also offer a layout that's similar to a single-family home. They have multiple stories and a larger layout. A bigger floor plan also means townhouses are usually more expensive than a one-story, cozier apartment. 

Pros and Cons of Renting a Townhouse

Before making a decision, make sure you understand the pros and cons of renting a townhouse.

Pro #1: More space.

Townhouses are ideal for expanding your space without committing to a single-family home. It's common to find garages, balconies, patios, and small yards in townhouse communities.

Pro #2: Cheaper than renting/buying a single-family home.

Housing shortages and skyrocketing price tags make it challenging to transition from apartment renter to townhouse owner. It's usually less expensive to rent or buy a townhouse than a single-family home.

Pro #3: Amenities:

Townhouses are typically part of a large development. They often have great amenities. You get the best of both worlds with a townhouse. Just like apartment complexes, the townhouse developments often feature fitness centers, swimming pools, and other upscale amenities.

Con #1: Privacy:

Townhouses are typically more private than apartments. However, they’re less private than single-family homes. It's the norm to share walls, yards, and amenities with your neighbors.

Con #2: Location:

Some townhouse communities are in residential areas within a city. However, they’re usually in a suburban setting. It's easy to find condos and apartments right in the middle of downtown and dense urban areas.

Con #3: HOA Fees are standard.

A townhouse development relies on HOA fees to keep up with landscaping and maintaining common areas. However, having an HOA also means you’ll need to follow specific rules. Those may include not painting your townhouse bright purple and adhering to their standards.

Which is Better for Me, a Townhouse or an Apartment?

Townhouses and apartments are both solid choices for renters. Focus on what's essential to you. If enjoying more space to spread out in a quieter setting with great amenities is vital to your comfort, a townhouse is a great choice.

An apartment or condo is likely the better choice if you crave living in the middle of the action. They’re also a great choice if you’re comfortable in a smaller space and want top-notch amenities. 

Whichever option you choose, get to know your new neighborhood before you commit. Try to chat with a few neighbors before you sign a lease. The backdrop of your new lifestyle will help you decide if you've found your new home.

Ready to find your new home? Just start the quiz at the top of this page.

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