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Apartment Building vs. Single-Family Home: What's Best for You?

[Updated: Apr 08, 2020] Feb 18, 2020 by Maurie Backman
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If you're looking to rent a home, you have a couple of options to choose from -- most commonly, you can rent in an apartment building or you can rent a single-family home. Each option has its share of pros and cons, so let's dive in and see what's best for you.

Pros of renting in an apartment building

Apartments tend to be smaller than standalone homes. As such, you might pay a lot less money if you go for less square footage.

Some apartment buildings also offer a range of amenities that single-family homes don't. For example, you might find a building with a gym, full-size playground, and pool. You're less likely to find those things (or at least all of them together) when you rent a single-family home.

Another thing: You're more likely to find apartment buildings in urban areas and city centers. That's a good thing if you want to be within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and public transportation.

Finally, if you're new to the neighborhood, an apartment building could offer a sense of community. Living in a standalone home can be more isolating and make it harder to meet new people.

Cons of renting in an apartment building

An apartment building might offer cheaper rent than a single-family home, but you'll generally compromise on both space and privacy. When you rent an apartment, you're sharing walls with other people. That means you'll get noise from different angles -- and that could get aggravating, especially if you work from home.

Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, apartment buildings don't tend to pop up as much in suburban areas. Rather, you'll find them in cities, which will only increase the noise factor.

Additionally, apartment living can lend itself to forced socializing. That's not a great thing if you like to keep to yourself, or at times when you're just plain busy and not in the mood to chat.

Another thing: While some apartment buildings offer onsite parking, many don't. That could be problematic if you own a car and drive to work.

Pros of renting a single-family home

When you rent a single-family home, you get that entire space to yourself -- and your closest neighbors may be far enough away that you can blast your music at all hours without them being the wiser. With a standalone home, you'll generally not only get more space than you'd get with an apartment, but you'll also get outdoor space, including a driveway or garage.

Another thing: When you rent a single-family home, you usually have more storage space to take advantage of. That's huge.

Cons of renting a single-family home

In exchange for getting more living space and storage, you might pay more rent for a standalone home than an apartment. If you're on a tight budget, that could be a challenge.

Something else to consider is that when you rent a single-family home, you won't have an on-site super to tackle sudden repairs. As such, if something goes wrong with your home, it could take a few days for your landlord to address the issue at hand, whereas repairs might happen faster in an apartment building setting.

Furthermore, if you're the sole tenant renting a home, you're at your landlord's mercy with regard to staying long-term. Technically, this risk exists when you rent in an apartment building, too, but generally speaking, building owners buy those properties to rent them out for the long haul. On the other hand, people who rent out single-family homes don't always intend to keep them rented long-term. If you sign a one-year lease, for example, you may land in a scenario where your landlord wants you to move out once the lease has expired.

Finally, if you enjoy being close to stores and other amenities, a single-family home could put you farther away from businesses than an apartment building (though not always). And if that home is deep in suburbia, you'll spend money on gas to do everything from visiting a doctor to socializing to buying milk.

What's the right choice for you?

If you're not sure whether to rent in an apartment building versus a single-family home, consider the following factors:

  • Your budget.
  • Your family size.
  • Your family needs (for example, do you have young kids or a baby?).
  • Your willingness to be reliant on a car/your need for parking.
  • Your desire for peace and quiet.
  • Your desire to stay put for the foreseeable future.

Ultimately, either option could work out quite well for you. Just be sure to weigh the advantages and drawbacks before making your decision.

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