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Apartment vs. Townhome vs. House—What Should You Rent?


Deciding what type of place you should rent can be a head-scratcher. Do you save money and live in a smaller place? Do you pay more and avoid the crowded feeling of an apartment complex? We've broken the rental decision-making process down into three main groups—cost, space and neighbors. We've weighed the pros and cons of each type of rental unit, so you don't have to. 

Read on for some insight into which rental path is right for you.



Generally speaking, apartments are the most affordable option when compared to rental houses and townhomes. Because apartment complexes have so many units in a single building, the cost of maintaining an individual unit is drastically lower than the costs associated with larger single- or multi-family living situations. 


If you're looking to break out of apartment living and into something that offers more space without breaking your budget, a townhome may be the right choice for you. Because multiple townhomes can be owned by a single owner and connected as a single building, they benefit from some of the same economies of scale as an apartment, while offering some of the benefits of living in a single-family house.

Rental House

In some markets, you may be able to rent a house at a similar rate to a townhome or an apartment but, generally speaking, renting a single-family home is often the most expensive of these three rental options. Because single-family houses are independent buildings, the increased cost of maintaining them is often passed on to the renter.



Among apartments, townhomes and rental houses, apartments usually have the smallest amount of space. This style of housing is built to make efficient use of a limited amount of space. What does this mean for you? It can mean narrower hallways, lower ceilings and smaller amounts of storage space.


There is a night-and-day difference between apartments and townhomes in terms of available space. While apartments often offer communal laundry rooms, storage lockers and parking garages, townhomes generally include versions of all of these things in a private-home setting.

Rental House

In terms of size, rental houses and townhomes can be very similar. The major difference between the two is that townhomes generally range from small to mid-sized, whereas rental houses cover the full spectrum of sizes. In this respect, rental houses are ideal for large families or groups of roommates.



In an apartment, you can have neighbors above you, below you and to either side. If you're comfortable sharing multiple walls with your next-door neighbors, then there's no reason you shouldn't consider an apartment. If you're friendly and like the company, you might even view having so many neighbors in such close proximity to be a bonus!


Townhomes are nice, because they don't have the potential to share nearly as many walls with neighbors, but they still maintain a relatively low cost when compared to a single-family home. Depending upon the townhome, renters could share either one or two walls with their neighbors.

Rental House

For some people, privacy is king. Renting a house, though it may be a bit more expensive than renting a townhome or an apartment, comes with a potential level of privacy from your neighbors that is unmatched by other housing options.

Regardless of which rental route you choose, it's important to make the space your own. One of the biggest benefits of renting a property is that moving is a much simpler process. If you try out an option for a year or two and decide it's not for you, you can always move on to a different rental that better suits your needs.

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Topics: Renting

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