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What Is a Garden Apartment?

A garden apartment is a type of apartment complex that has several advantages.

[Updated: Feb 04, 2021 ] May 17, 2020 by Matt Frankel, CFP
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Apartment buildings and communities come in a variety of sizes and types, ranging from two- to four-unit buildings to massive high-rise communities. Garden apartments are somewhat in the middle of these two extremes, so here's a rundown of what a garden apartment is and what renters should know before deciding what type of apartment community is best for them.

What is a garden apartment?

The term garden apartment doesn't necessarily mean an apartment with direct access to green space. Rather, it typically refers to an apartment building that’s relatively low (typically, no more than three stories, but there are exceptions) and surrounded by green spaces such as lawns, wooded areas, and gardens. Garden apartments can be in rural, suburban, and even in some urban settings.

The apartment units themselves typically have some outdoor living elements in a garden- apartment community. Ground-floor apartment units often have patios, which are good choices for residents who want to do some actual apartment gardening, while units on the second floor or higher generally have balconies.

In a nutshell, a garden-style apartment complex is a low-rise apartment complex with abundant green spaces for residents to use. A garden-apartment community generally has several low-rise buildings that are spread out across the property. Some garden-apartment communities have amenities such as pools and clubhouses, playgrounds, community gardens, and lots of outdoor space, but this isn't a requirement to be considered a garden apartment.

To help put this into perspective, here's a quick reference guide to the four main types of apartment complexes, according to mortgage industry giant Freddie Mac:

  • High-rise -- This generally refers to a building that has at least nine floors and has elevators.
  • Mid-rise -- A mid-rise building typically (but not always) has an elevator and eight or fewer floors.
  • Walk-up -- An apartment building with four to six stories that does not have an elevator. Typically these are older apartment buildings located in urban areas.
  • Garden -- One-to-three story apartment buildings that may or may not have elevators.

It's also worth mentioning that although it isn't terribly common, the phrase garden apartment is sometimes used to refer to a ground floor or basement apartment with actual access to a garden. For example, a first-floor apartment in a high-rise building will sometimes be described as a garden apartment if it has a private patio or garden area.

Pros and cons of renting a garden apartment

Garden-style apartment communities tend to be quiet. Because of the spread-out nature of the housing units, garden-style apartments are typically less noisy than their high-rise counterparts. They're also easily accessible -- as mentioned earlier, most garden apartment buildings aren't more than two or three stories high. Ground floor units can be accessed without needing stairs or an elevator at all. Most garden-apartment communities have ample parking for residents within a short walk of each housing unit -- on the other hand, high-rise buildings typically have central parking facilities, or none at all. And because they tend to be located in suburban, non-dense locations, garden apartments are often cheaper than other types and also tend to have larger floor plans than apartments of the same bedroom count located in denser types of communities.

Most obviously, one major advantage to living in a garden apartment is the access to green spaces. If you like to walk your dog outdoors, exercise outside, and have generally attractive scenery, a garden apartment could be a good fit.

On the other hand, there are some potential drawbacks. If you want to be in the center of the action, a garden apartment community isn't likely to be the best choice for you. Because they require lots of land to be so spread out, garden apartments tend to be further from the centers of cities and main shopping districts than denser apartment complexes.

The Millionacres bottom line: Is a garden apartment right for you?

Obviously, there's no such thing as a perfect type of living arrangement for everyone. Garden apartments can be excellent options for people who like things spread out, want to park their car close to their home, and want to be able to enjoy the outdoors. On the other hand, garden apartments tend to be located outside of the busiest areas of cities, so if you want to be in the center of the action, a high-rise might be a better choice for you.

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