First-time homebuyers looking for the best real estate deal available often find themselves choosing between a single-family home and a townhouse. While each type of property offers distinct advantages and shortcomings, the buyer’s own needs and preferences can make one type of property considerably more appealing than the other.
Are you thinking of moving to a townhouse? For first-time home buyers and empty-nesters, alike, townhouse living provides the perfect alternative to owning a single-family home.
Townhomes, known for their unique architectural style, consist of an attached home with shared walls and multiple floors – typically, two to three stories. Townhouse residents usually share common spaces, such as a pool or driveway, with other neighbours as well.
Compared to living in a condo or an apartment, these occupants have more private space and their private outdoor entrance. In general, a townhome also requires less upkeep than a single-family house, making them perfect for those looking to live a low maintenance lifestyle. Despite the many desirable features of these attached homes, however, moving to a townhouse can have its drawbacks.
Townhome living may be the perfect choice for those interested in the feel of a single-family home without all the maintenance responsibilities. Typically townhomes are built on a small plot of land in neighbourhood development, with multiple floors, designated parking spaces or garages, and a shared wall with another home (or homes). And, in most cases, the townhome community is regulated by a homeowner’s association that sets the rules for the community and is responsible for maintaining some or all of the exterior and shared property. Each owner in the community is a member of the homeowner’s association and pays a monthly or yearly association fee to help fund these activities. Here are five advantages of living in a townhouse to consider before purchasing your next home.
What Is A Townhouse?
A townhouse, or row house, is a multistory home that shares at least one wall with an adjacent property. With a townhouse, you have your entrance and possibly even your basement, driveway, garage, and backyard. And that home will generally be part of a homeowners association or HOA.
Benefits Of Buying A Townhouse
In some cases, a townhouse can be a smart choice and investment. Here are some of the things you’ll benefit from:
- A lower purchase price
- Easier maintenance
- Common area amenities
- A sense of community.
A lower purchase price
Buying a townhouse isn’t always cheaper than buying a detached home. But if you’re comparing a detached house and a townhouse in the same neighbourhood with roughly the same interior and updates, then you’ll generally spend less to buy the townhouse. The reason? It’s cheaper to construct properties that share walls than it is to build them separately, and so that savings is passed on to you.
If you don’t have a huge homeownership budget, then a townhouse could be a nice, affordable choice. And if you’re looking to invest in an income property, it’s a good way to purchase a second home without having to come up with an as large down payment.
When you buy a detached single-family house, you’re responsible for a world of exterior maintenance. You need to maintain your property’s lawn, arrange for snow removal (or shovel yourself), and do the many other things owners of detached homes do. When you buy a townhouse, you generally only need to maintain your home’s interior because your HOA will often take care of exterior upkeep. And if you’re a first-time homebuyer, a townhouse may be a solid stepping stone if you’re unsure how much upkeep you have the patience for.
Common area amenities
Many townhouse communities offer common area amenities that could enhance your quality of life. As part of your HOA fee, you may be entitled to perks like a playground, swimming pool, gym, tennis court, or clubhouse, where you can entertain guests.
A sense of community
Townhouses, by nature, are close together, which means you may have an easier time getting to know your neighbours. That’s a good thing if you’re the social type who enjoys interacting with others.
Benefits Of Renting A Townhouse
If you’re looking to rent a home rather than buy one to live in, a townhouse is worth considering as well for these reasons:
- Lower rent
- Extra amenities
- A community feel
Because townhouses tend to be cheaper to buy than detached homes, owners who choose to rent them out will typically charge less rent. That could translate into serious savings for you. Renting a townhouse could be a good solution if you have a family and need more space than an apartment allows for. And if you want an affordable home with outdoor space, a townhouse could provide that.
When you rent a detached house, you may get access to a front lawn and backyard, and maybe a pool — but that’s generally about it. With a townhouse, you may get access to a playground for your kids, a gym to work out in, and other such perks.
A community feel
If you’re new to the area or are still feeling it out, a townhouse could help you better get to know some of the people who live in your neighbourhood. And if you enjoy being social with neighbours, the fact that you all share the same common areas will help in this regard.
Drawbacks Of Buying A Townhouse
There are lots to be gained by buying a townhome as opposed to opting for a detached home. But here are some of the downsides to consider:
- Less space.
- Less privacy.
- More noise.
- Expensive HOA fees
Townhouses tend to be more compact than detached houses. That could, in some cases, translate into less living space. Storage can also be an issue with townhouses. Many don’t come with garages or basements, and if you have children, you may find that you’re too cramped for comfort.
When you own a detached house, you can generally come and go as you please without seeing your neighbours all the time. With a townhouse, you and your neighbours are virtually living on top of one another, and so maintaining some degree of privacy could prove challenging.
When you own a townhouse, you’re guaranteed to have another home attached to yours on at least one side. And in many cases, you’ll have homes attached on both sides. Sharing those walls with your neighbours means potentially listening to their arguments, hearing their music or TV blasting when you’re trying to relax quietly with a book or being woken up at night to the sound of a screaming child.
Expensive HOA fees
In some cases, the monthly maintenance fees you’ll pay to live in your townhouse can be quite costly, thereby making your home less affordable. One reason many people buy townhouses is to save money. But if your HOA fees cancel that out, you’ll negate those savings.
Another thing: While you will benefit from common area maintenance by paying those fees, they won’t cover home maintenance for your interior. You’ll still need to put in the time and spend the money to keep your townhome in good shape.
Drawbacks Of Renting A Townhouse
Though renting a townhouse, as opposed to a detached house, is a good way to lower your housing costs, there are a few negatives to consider:
- Less space
- Less privacy
- Extra noise
The same space issues associated with townhouses exist whether you buy or rent one. If you’re looking for a larger home (as opposed to an apartment) to rent because you have a family, a townhouse may not suit your needs, as well as a detached house, could. And if your goal is not renting an apartment is to snag some private outdoor space, like a backyard, a townhouse may not provide it.
If you’re renting a townhouse for a limited period of time, you may not care about getting to know your neighbours. Your goal may be to pay a relatively low amount of rent for a year so you can save up and buy a place of your own. But if you’re not interested in socializing with the people who live around you, then moving into a townhouse could make for a somewhat frustrating experience.
Many renters choose not to live in an apartment building due to the noise factor. If that sounds like you, then a townhouse may not be a great solution. Although you won’t have to worry about your upstairs neighbour stomping on your head late at night, you’ll still be sharing walls with the people who live around you.
Reasons Townhome Living Is Better
Deciding where to live is one of life’s biggest decisions, and it’s important that you consider each and every factor when you set out to make that call. Every type of living option has its pros and cons and depends greatly on your particular lifestyle. Everyone knows about houses and apartments, but what about the perfect balance between the two?
Townhomes are an often misunderstood, but incredibly valuable option if you’re looking for something more than an apartment, but don’t quite want to commit to all the responsibility that comes with owning a single-family home.
A yard without the hassle
Have you ever wished that you could have a beautiful yard that you weren’t obligated to take care of? Well, that’s exactly what a townhome offers. While that space might not be huge, you generally aren’t responsible for its upkeep. Just imagine a summer free of grass cutting!
A community with everything you need
Have you ever wanted to get some exercise, but the gym was too far away? That’s not a problem in a townhome community. With access to things like a state-of-the-art fitness centre, a tennis court and a resort-style swimming pool, you can maintain your ideal lifestyle without leaving your neighbourhood.
A safe neighbourhood
By their very nature, townhome communities are shared by many people, and they all want to keep it safe and secure just as much as you do. You can live comfortably without the fear of intrusion when you know that so many people are devoted to that same interest.
If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, townhomes are designed perfectly for you. They’re built-in units that are next to, rather than on top of, each other. That means no one is living above or below you. You won’t have to deal with people stomping above you, and you’ll have way more privacy.
Besides the pools and the parks, townhomes come with a whole host of other common areas that allow you to meet other people and hang out. Whether that means hosting a book club or playing a game of billiards, get out and meet your neighbours and build some lasting friendships.
Nearby a great town
The best townhomes are situated just far enough from town so that you can get some peace and quiet, but close enough that you have access to whatever it is that you need. Whether it’s a latte from Starbucks, a new pair of heels from DSW or a manicure at Le Chic Nails & Beauty Salon, you can find everything you want right there nearby. If you’re looking for a community where you can live, work and play, look no further than Park Place at Garden State Park.
Suppose the townhome community you’ve chosen is designed with luxury in mind. In that case, chances are it features outdoor amenities like walkways and open space, as well as proximity to nearby parks and recreation. Park Place at Garden State Park features 44 acres of preserved open space and is just minutes away from Cooper River Park.
All the maintenance is taken care of
That point about not having to take care of your lawn doesn’t end at your door. You’re often not responsible for any of the upkeep in the common areas or your own home’s exterior. Roof repairs? Not your problem. Snow shovelling? Let someone else deal with it.
Unlike many apartments or condos, townhomes promise more than just one level to your living area. This is great not just to have more space — it also opens up more decorating options and can also provide some added privacy for households with multiple people.
Less costly than a house, but a better investment than an apartment
For the most part, townhomes are less expensive than single-family homes, but you still maintain an interest in the property — unlike an apartment. It’s hard to pass up on all these benefits when it’s also going to be less of a hit on your finances.
Townhome living allows you to have all the conveniences that come with a condo while also experiencing the benefits of homeownership.
For some, a townhouse’s lack of privacy can be a major deterrent. While some townhomes offer private balconies or patios, you won’t find many that offer a private outdoor yard. Townhouses that do have small backyards lack real privacy, as other townhomes and neighbours tower over the outdoor space as well. Proximity to neighbours can also be a concern for townhouse occupants. Given that you’re sharing a wall with your neighbours, you’re sure to see (and possibly hear) them throughout the day.
Are you looking for convenience? You’ll find it in a townhouse. These attached homes tend to be located within walking distance to everyday conveniences, such as restaurants, markets, coffee shops and parks. Living in a townhome also means not having to mow the lawn, clean the pool, resurface the driveway or landscape the yard. That’s because your HOA will take care of it for you. After all, you’re paying them for a reason! Many HOA fees will also cover your insurance and general maintenance needs, such as exterior painting, structural issues and possible storm damage. HOA’s may cost a pretty penny, but for many, it’s a small price to pay for the added convenience.
Finally, the community’s rules and restrictions are one of the most important considerations to make before moving to a townhouse. For better or worse, many HOA’s come with a long list of what you can and cannot do while living in your townhouse. From the pool hours to any changes made to your home’s exterior, your HOA should provide you with a list of dos and don’ts before you move.
Common townhouse HOA rules include:
- No alterations or additions to the exterior of the home.
- No hanging towels on the home’s patio.
- No loud or boisterous noises on the property.
- No parking in certain restricted areas. In many cases, an HOA will allow street parking with a decal on the car. They may also have a designated spot for movers to park their moving truck.
- No pets. Many times an HOA will either restrict pets altogether; limit the number of pets you can have; set restrictions on the type of pet allowed; or set a weight limit for the pet.
Every townhouse community’s rules and regulations are different, however. So make sure to read up on your neighbourhood association’s handbook carefully before relocating to your townhome. To find the right professional moving company for your next townhouse move, check Moving.com’s network of licensed and insured movers. Good luck and happy moving!