If you’re looking for your first (or second) place, the top thing to consider is your budget. It’s crucial to find something within a comfortable price range that won’t leave you strapped for cash. That said, if you have a little more to spend each month (or have extra roommates to split costs), you may consider renting a townhouse instead of an apartment.
San JoseTownhouses have attached homes, usually with 2-3 floors. Instead of spreading the space out over a large footprint like a traditional house or apartment, townhouses are built tall with multiple, smaller floors and the units are often attached to other townhouses. However, each has a private entrance/front door.
As with everything, there are pros and cons of a townhouse versus an apartment.
Finding the right home could be an overwhelming journey. From how much space you need to which neighbourhood, finding the right home can take a lot of trial and error.
You often hear people use the words apartment and condo interchangeably, but what is the true difference between the two? And if they’re not right for you, will a townhouse be a better fit?
We break down the three types of homes you can look at and whether they’re fit your lifestyle.
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 a town or residential areas of a city.
People often overlook these units in favour of single-family homes or modern condos. However, they see a resurgence in the marketplace.
There’s a demand for convenient, low-maintenance dwellings. Townhomes are often near walkable commerce and other areas. Planning for a new look for your house? Look no further! MJS Construction Group is here to help in your home builders.
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 centre, 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 centres, 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.
The Townhouse vs. Apartment Debate
Space in an apartment versus space in a townhouse
This is a really obvious thing to say, but it needs to be said: An 800-square-foot apartment has the same space as an 800-square-foot townhouse.
The different layouts between the two may make it seem as though there’s a big discrepancy. After all, the apartment’s square footage comprises a single level, while the townhouse’s square footage is divided between two floors.
That division is good if you want more separation between the bedrooms and the living room/kitchen areas. Sound doesn’t travel as well when it has to climb a flight of stairs!
But if you prefer ready access to all points of your residence, an apartment makes more sense. Single-story living is especially preferable for people with any mobility concerns, such as knee pain.
The expense of an apartment versus the expense of a townhouse
The square footage might be the same, but there can still be cost discrepancies between an apartment and a townhouse. Here’s why you might end up paying more for a townhouse than you would a similarly sized apartment:
- Townhouses often come with a small patch of land, while apartments do not
- Townhouses usually are not as densely arrayed as apartments, compelling landlords to charge more to get a return on their investment
- Some townhouses may come with association fees, either directly from the HOA or indirectly as part of your rent
A little land and decreased tenant density, though, are two key drivers to selecting a townhouse over an apartment. If such amenities are important to you, you understand and maybe even expect the added expense.
The privacy afforded by an apartment versus privacy afforded by a townhouse
Any time you share a wall with someone, your privacy (and theirs!) takes a hit. Since both apartments and townhouses have this characteristic, neither can lay claim to the undisputed privacy championship crown.
A closer look brings the matter into perspective:
- Your townhouse rental may include, or be prepped for, a washer and dryer. Apartment living means a communal laundry room or public laundromat.
- Fewer residences mean fewer snoopy neighbours around your townhouse although the number of tenants in your apartment building may cast a “hiding in plain sight” effect on you.
- Renting an apartment is more utilitarian for most people. It’s a means to an end. Renting a townhouse, with its potential for a small flower bed and grill out back, suggests an inclination toward friendlier neighbour banter.
Depending on your location, apartments are often a bit cheaper because they generally include less square footage. If your budget is tight, skip the townhouses and focus on apartments to keep it affordable. Even if your rent per month is comparable (and affordable), remember that other utility costs (water, electricity, and especially A/C & heat) will cost more per month in a townhouse, as you’ll have more space to light and climate control. If you have roommates to fill the extra space, costs may not be too much higher, but the budget for these extras to make sure you can still afford the rental. If not, an apartment is likely the better fit for you.
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Generally, townhouses include more square feet, more rooms, and stairs. That may be just what you’re looking for, especially if you have a handful of roommates or a pet. However, if you don’t need the space, it may be overwhelming to decorate and maintain, and extra space takes more time and effort to keep clean. Consider the stairs, as well. If you’re not a fan, perhaps staying in an apartment is your best fit. If you like the idea of 2-stories of separate space, keep searching for townhouses.
Amenities are one of the fun parts of having an apartment, and many apartment complexes include a complimentary gym or pool facility. In larger complexes, they also often include walking trails, dog parks, or park areas. If the townhouse you’re eyeing is standalone, in a smaller “neighbourhood, or not part of a complex, you likely won’t get access to amenities. Keep that in mind when you do your search, as you’ll have to pay for a pool or gym membership if you’d use them.
As a renter, most of your maintenance should be covered by your landlord. However, townhouses in the suburbs can include grassy yards (fenced or not), so confirm that the front and back yard maintenance is not your responsibility. If it is, you’ll need to invest in lawn equipment (and invest time each week for doing yard work!). Apartments generally have no outdoor maintenance, and the complex takes care of everything. Just confirm the maintenance agreement before making your decision!
Townhouse communities can be built in rows of three to four houses, with many of the residents sharing one wall. If you’re renting a townhome, keep in mind that the upkeep will be a little higher than an apartment. You’ll also have to take care of the lawn, driveway and any other exterior areas within your property, aside from the interior.
In contrast, if you’re renting a condo, you’ll only be in charge of cleaning your home. Your landlord, who owns the condo, will be responsible for most upkeep within the unit.
Any communal spaces around the property, like a gazebo or pool, will be taken care by the community’s homeowner’s association (HOA), a separate fee that goes to the upkeep of the property.
The rules can be tricky, depending on the group leading the association. Make sure that you’re allowed to rent on the property as a renter before you sign the lease, as many don’t allow renters within the condo community.
In an apartment complex, the property management company is in charge of repairs and exterior maintenance. All rules apply to everyone across the complex, and if something breaks, management will take care of it.
HOA fees can quickly creep up, especially if your landlord requires you to pay them. If you’re required to cover the HOA fees at your condo or townhouse, ask what’s included in the monthly payment. Before committing, ask how often the fees change, how often extra charges creep up and what kind of restrictions you face as a renter.
One thing to keep in mind at a townhouse is landscaping. The service, while necessary, sometimes is not covered by your landlord in your rent, resulting in an extra expense to you.
Your one-bedroom rent at an apartment complex includes all necessary amenities, including access to mailrooms, parking, trash, gym and in-unit repairs. Luxury units may have additional fees like pet rent, package holding, dog walking, renting communal areas and more.
According to a 2018 study, three in four residents would pay more for a package of their top three smart home amenities. They see smart home amenities more valuable than a pool or an onsite gym.
But, if you love hanging out by the pool yet want to live in a smaller, tight-knit community, a condo is for you. Do you have a restricted pet breed? If so, rent that townhouse.
However, if you’re an all-inclusive person and don’t want to worry about extra amenities, then a one-bedroom apartment at a complex is right for you.
Think long and hard about your day-to-day and whether you have time (and money) to pay for extra amenities you may not use and choose your next home accordingly.
Square footage available
Townhouses are often two to three floors with extensive square footage for a living room, dining room and storage. You’ll have space to organize all of your souvenirs and seasonal clothing. As your family expands and you’re not ready to buy a home yet, this is a great alternative.
If you’re into Marie Kondo and your possessions could fit in a few boxes, a small condo or apartment could be right for you. Don’t only consider the inside square footage, think about outdoor spaces available like tennis courts, dog parks, pool gathering area and others as part of the space you may need.
Are you a person that likes to grill on the weekends? You’ll need a patio for that. While some apartment complexes have common areas to grill, they’re often occupied for events. If you’re aching for some outdoor space, a townhouse is the best option for you.
While taking on landscaping (depending on your landlord) may be a hassle, having a little rectangle of grass that’s just yours (for the lease duration) could be worth it.
Townhouses also offer a little more privacy than a condo or apartment as they only share a maximum of two walls, often soundproof. If you’re sensitive to noise, a townhouse with less noise pollution can work better for you.
Luxury condos will attract young residents looking for the latest amenities like dog walking, high-tech fitness studios and saltwater pools with a sauna nearby. Just know each of them is extra on your rent.
If you’re a hands-off, barely-home person, we suggest looking into an apartment complex with only the necessary amenities in order to pay just for what you use.
Location, Location, Location
One of the most important aspects of selecting a new apartment or townhouse to rent is the location. It can become more complicated in cities, especially if there is more than one adult and each has a job in a different part of the city. Living further away can cause wear and tear on your car, but living closer to work can make your monthly rent go up.
- Closeness to public transportation
- Availability of services nearby (mechanic, hospital, police station, etc.)
- Availability of stores (food, clothing, etc.)
- Distance from work
- Distance to family and friends
- Distance to school, college, or other educational centres
- Closeness to resources important to the tenant (volunteer work, game shops, etc.)
When selecting a place, it’s important to take all things into account. Speaking from experience, I have lived in places where I saved money by having a longer commute but remained close to important amenities or friends. I soon found that long commutes to work hindered other things and that the money saved wasn’t worthwhile. It’s up to you which factors are non-negotiable or which aspect is most important.
Which One Is Right For You?
There are advantages and downsides for each type of home. It all comes down to your needs and what amenities fit your lifestyle.
You may think you need upwards of 1,000 square feet on your own, but once you start looking at your daily activities, you may find you don’t need that much.
The costs differ as much as the square footage, but once you have your preferences narrowed down — pool, low maintenance fees, your commute — it will be easier to decide what you should look for. Finding the right Melbourne home builders is an important decision. Check out our range of the best home design constructions at MJS Construction Group.
Think of your short- and long-term expectations for your home, especially if you’re thinking of expanding your family or changing jobs, and you’ll find the right one.
So, which is better: the apartment or the townhouse? Making that decision may not be as easy as renting vs. buying, but after some careful consideration, you’ll come to the conclusion that is right for you. Whatever you rent, find it on ApartmentSearch and get a $200 reward when you sign your lease!
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 neighbourhood before you commit. Try to chat with a few neighbours before you sign a lease. The backdrop of your new lifestyle will help you decide if you’ve found your new home.