The age-old housing debate: townhouses versus standalone houses. Both offer unique advantages and have their own distinct charm, but how do you decide which one is the perfect fit for you? Is it the sense of community and lower maintenance of a townhouse that calls your name, or do you value the space, privacy, and autonomy that a standalone house offers?
Each option represents a different lifestyle and comes with its own set of responsibilities and perks. So, if you find yourself at this crossroads, don’t fret. We’re here to unravel the great housing debate, giving you the insight you need to make a well-informed decision.
Read on as we delve into the distinct characteristics, pros, and cons of townhouses and houses, and hopefully, guide you towards your dream home.
Townhouse VS House: What's the difference?
A townhouse shares boundaries with its immediate neighbors. It’s part of a row of uniform properties that offer a balance between community living and private space. They typically come with multiple floors and a small parcel of outdoor area.
A standalone house, on the other hand, doesn’t share walls or spaces with any other property. It stands alone, typically with more overall space, both indoors and outdoors, offering a greater degree of privacy and autonomy.
The main distinction between a townhouse and a standalone house hinges on these factors: space, privacy, and the extent of responsibility for maintenance.
Townhouse VS House: Key Differences
|Ownership||Townhouse owners own the land beneath their unit, but have shared walls with neighbors.||House owners own the land and the entire property, with no shared walls.|
|HOA and Fees||Townhouses often have HOA fees and regulations to follow.||Houses typically don't have HOA fees or regulations.|
|Amenities||Townhouses may offer communal spaces and landscaping services.||Houses usually don't offer communal spaces or landscaping services.|
|Maintenance||Townhouses usually require less exterior maintenance than houses.||Houses often require more exterior maintenance due to their size and property.|
|Square Footage||Townhouses usually have less square footage than houses.||Houses usually have more square footage than townhouses.|
|Privacy||Townhouses share walls with neighbors, potentially leading to less privacy.||Houses typically offer more privacy due to their size and lack of shared walls.|
|Resale Value||The resale value of a townhouse may be impacted by HOA fees and communal spaces.||The resale value of a house may be impacted by the amount of land and square footage.|
What is a townhouse?
A townhouse, also known as a row house or terraced house in some regions, is a style of housing where each house is built in a row and shares walls with the houses on either side. Each townhouse is a separate residential unit, typically comprised of multiple floors. The owners often have a small parcel of land, which can include a front and/or backyard.
While townhouses may share some characteristics with condos, such as Homeowner Association (HOA) fees and certain communal facilities, the main difference is that townhouse owners usually own the land their home sits on, including any yard or garden associated with it.
They offer a unique blend of shared community living and private space and are often found in both urban and suburban environments, providing a range of choices for potential buyers or renters.
Key Features of Townhouses
Let’s dive into the distinct features of townhouses and why they might make an appealing housing choice:
Shared Walls: Townhouses are architecturally designed to share walls with neighboring units. This can often lead to a strong sense of community but can also come with less privacy than detached homes.
Multiple Floors: Townhouses typically have multiple floors, often featuring a ground floor with living spaces, an upper floor for bedrooms, and sometimes a basement area.
Private Outdoor Space: Most townhouses come with a small piece of outdoor area. This could be a backyard, patio, or small garden space, giving homeowners a chance to get outside without having to leave their property.
Community Living: Given their close proximity to neighbors, townhouses often foster a strong sense of community. This can be a major selling point for people who enjoy a neighborhood feel.
Homeowner Association (HOA) Fees: Many townhouse communities have a Homeowner Association that manages communal areas and enforces rules. HOA fees are typically required and go towards maintenance and amenities.
Lower Maintenance: Since the HOA often takes care of the exterior maintenance and common areas, homeowners typically only need to worry about the inside of their home and perhaps a small outdoor area.
Cost-Effective: Townhouses can be a more affordable option, particularly in urban areas where standalone homes might be cost-prohibitive. According to a report by Redfin, in 2020, the median sale price of a townhouse in the U.S. was $259,000.
Design Uniformity: Townhouses in the same complex usually have a uniform design aesthetic. While this can limit customization options, it can also lead to a neat, harmonious look and feel in the neighborhood.
Parking: Many townhouses come with dedicated parking spaces or even a private garage, which can be a major benefit, especially in busy city areas.
Location Variety: Townhouses can be found in urban and suburban settings. In cities, they provide a more affordable option for homeowners wanting a spacious residence. In suburban settings, they offer a community-oriented lifestyle without the upkeep of a large yard.
Pros and cons of a townhouse
What is a house?
A house, often referred to as a single-family home, is a standalone residential structure that provides living space for one family or a single household. It’s typically built on its own parcel of land, separated from other residences, and does not share walls or utilities with neighboring buildings.
Who should buy a house?
If you’re wondering if a house is the right choice for you. Let’s break it down.
Houses are a great option for folks who crave space, privacy, and independence. So, if you’re someone with a big family or who loves to entertain, a house could be a fantastic fit for you. You’ll have plenty of space to stretch out and relax, and your guests won’t feel cramped either.
And when it comes to square footage, houses take the cake. You’ll have loads of room to store your belongings, from your book collection to your snowboarding gear. So, no more squeezing everything into a tiny apartment!
Another big advantage of houses is privacy. No more thin walls where you can hear your neighbors snoring at night. In a house, you’ll have your own space to unwind and relax, without any interruptions. So, if you’re someone who values alone time, a house is definitely worth considering.
Now, if you’re someone who works from home or has hobbies that require ample space, a house is a no-brainer. You can create your own home office, workshop, or studio without having to worry about bothering anyone else. And if you love spending time outdoors, having a backyard or patio can be an excellent place to relax and unwind.
Of course, there are some downsides to consider. Houses require more maintenance and upkeep than other types of housing, which can be a lot of work and expense. And, heating and cooling a larger space can be more expensive too. Plus, if you’re looking to buy a house in a desirable neighborhood, be prepared to pay a premium for that extra space and privacy.
Key Features of Houses
Houses, or single-family homes, come with a distinct set of characteristics:
Privacy: Houses provide more privacy compared to condos or townhouses as they don’t share walls with neighboring properties.
Space: Houses generally offer more living space, both indoor and outdoor. They often come with a yard, providing private outdoor space for activities, gardening, or pets.
Ownership: When you own a house, you own both the structure and the land it’s on.
Design Freedom: Homeowners have greater freedom to modify and customize their property, from paint colors to architectural changes.
No Shared Maintenance Costs: There are no HOA fees for shared services or common areas, as each homeowner is responsible for the upkeep of their own property.
Garages and Additional Structures: Houses often include a private garage and may also have the space for additional structures like sheds or guest houses.
Variety of Styles: Houses come in a wide array of architectural styles, sizes, and layouts, from quaint cottages to sprawling multi-story homes.
Location: Houses can be found in a variety of settings, from dense urban neighborhoods to suburban communities or rural areas.
Responsibility: With a house, the homeowner is responsible for all maintenance, repairs, and improvements, which can be both a burden and a benefit, depending on one’s perspective.
Pros and cons of a house
When it comes to the financial side of choosing between a house and a townhouse, there’s quite a bit to mull over. Let’s dive into the key factors that you really need to keep in mind.
Houses: Generally, houses are more expensive than townhouses due to the additional land and privacy they offer. However, prices can vary significantly depending on the location, size, and condition of the property.
Townhouses: Townhouses typically have a lower purchase price compared to houses, particularly in densely populated areas, making them a more affordable option for many buyers.
Houses: Homeowners are responsible for all maintenance and repairs, which can be costly. This includes yard upkeep, HVAC system maintenance, roof repairs, and more.
Townhouses: While there may be HOA fees, these often cover exterior maintenance, landscaping, and communal amenities, which can offset some of the maintenance costs.
Homeowners Association (HOA) Fees
Houses: Single-family homes typically do not have HOA fees unless they’re located within a specific community with shared amenities.
Townhouses: Owners are often required to pay HOA fees for the upkeep of shared spaces and amenities. These fees can vary widely, so it’s important to factor them into your budget.
Insurance and Taxes
Houses: Homeowners insurance and property taxes can be higher for houses due to the larger size and value of the property.
Townhouses: Insurance and property taxes may be lower compared to houses, but remember that you’ll need to add the cost of these to your monthly HOA fees when budgeting.
Houses: Standalone houses often have a higher resale value and can be easier to sell, depending on market conditions.
Townhouses: Resale can sometimes be more challenging, depending on the demand in your area. The value may also be influenced by the condition and appeal of the entire townhouse community, not just your individual unit.
Choosing the Right Property for You
When you’re weighing up whether to opt for a townhouse or a standalone house, here are some pivotal factors to consider:
What suits your way of living? If you’re after lower maintenance and don’t mind sharing some spaces with neighbors, a townhouse could be up your alley. On the flip side, if you value privacy, a larger yard, or enjoy DIY home projects, a house might be more your style.
Where you want to live matters. Townhouses are often closer to city centers, great if you value a shorter commute or being near the action. Houses can be anywhere from city neighborhoods to quieter suburban or rural locations.
Your budget will be a major decider. Houses generally cost more upfront, but don’t forget ongoing costs too. Townhouses may have lower purchase prices but often include regular HOA fees.
How much space do you need? Houses usually offer more living and outdoor space, while townhouses might be smaller but located in a more convenient, central location.
If you like a close-knit community feel where you know your neighbors, you might find this more in a townhouse complex.
Ultimately, here are some questions to ask yourself:
Tips for Evaluating Properties
When researching and evaluating properties, consider the following tips:
- Do your research: Use online real estate websites and apps to search for properties that meet your criteria. Pay attention to property details such as square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and location.
- Attend open houses and tours: Seeing a property in person can help you get a better sense of its layout, condition, and overall appeal. Attend open houses or schedule a private tour with a real estate agent. Some realtors have even started hosting virtual open houses after Covid-19.
- Get a home inspection: Before making an offer on a property, hire a professional home inspector to evaluate the condition of the home. This can help you identify any potential issues or needed repairs.
- Consider the neighborhood: Look beyond the property itself and consider the overall neighborhood – you can even make use of the many websites and tools out there for neighborhood evaluation. Factors such as crime rates, school districts, and access to amenities can all impact the value and desirability of a property.
Final Thoughts: Townhouse VS House
As we conclude our exploration of townhouses and houses, it’s clear that both offer distinctive benefits.
A townhouse can be your perfect match if you’re seeking a cozy, connected community feel, the ease of low maintenance, and an urban or suburban location that keeps you near the heart of things. With typically more affordable pricing and shared amenities, it offers an attractive lifestyle for many.
On the other hand, a house is your ticket to privacy, more space, and a slice of land to call your own. It’s a blank canvas for those with a DIY spirit or green thumb, and it usually provides more flexibility for customization.
Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all in the world of real estate. The best choice depends on your unique lifestyle, preferences, and financial capacity. It’s about finding the right fit for your needs today, while keeping an eye on your future. Whichever path you choose, may it lead you to a place you’ll happily call ‘home’.
A traditional townhouse is typically multilevel with each unit arranged side-by-side.
A stacked townhouse, on the other hand, has multiple units vertically arranged on top of each other, much like an apartment building. Each unit in a stacked townhouse typically has its own separate entrance.
The level of soundproofing in a townhouse can depend on the age of the building, the quality of construction, and the materials used. While modern townhouses often incorporate sound-damping materials and techniques to minimize noise transfer, some noise from neighboring units can still be possible.
If soundproofing is a major concern for you, it’s something you’d want to inquire about or investigate before purchasing a townhouse.