Apartment or House – Which is right for you?

Apartment or House – Which is right for you?

 

You’re buying a home of your own. It’s an exciting process. But there are things to think about before you start looking, and one of your main questions you’ll be asking yourself is apartment vs house

It’s an interesting choice, and a decision you’re going to enjoy making. Will you buy a gorgeous house or a beautiful flat? Which is best, what are the pros and cons involved in both, and what will drive your eventual choice? 

Read on to find out all about living in a house or apartment, the ins and outs of both, and what might affect your final decision. By the end of this article you’ll know where you stand around the exciting matter of buying a house vs an apartment, and you’ll know which you want.  

Living in a House or Apartment – Which is Best?

As a first time buyer it’s important to get your ducks in a row, and examine them all carefully before making your final decision. Yes, there’s a dilemma around choosing between buying an apartment or flat versus a house, but it’s a fun dilemma to be facing, all part of the enjoyment of becoming a property owner.

The first thing to recognise is this is a really big decision, especially for first time buyers. The second thing to realise is that it’s a subjective choice, intimately personal, so prepare to tick all the logical boxes… then fall truly, madly and deeply in love with the place you end up buying! At least, when you’ve understood all the implications, it’ll be a fully-informed choice based on facts and common sense. 

Let’s start by looking into the many factors to consider around living in either an apartment or a house.

 

Location

You’ll probably already understand the importance of location. You’ll want to be near your place of work, or at least near to the public transport links you’ll use to get there and back. If you’re driving to work you might want to think about the distance, the style of the journey – busy roads, backstreets, motorways – how busy the rush hour is, and how long your daily commute will take. You’ll probably also want to factor in how close you’ll be to friends, family, and amenities like parks, sports facilities, and entertainment. It’s useful to know most flats and apartments tend to be in city and town centres, rather than in villages or on the outskirts.

 

Neighbours

Apartment living often means you have neighbours on either side as well as above and below your place. On the bright side it’s a sociable, buzzy and lively place to live with lots of people coming and going. On the downside it can get noisy, your shared spaces will need to be looked after, and you might have problems with parking. Check the parking out before you view a place if you own a car. It’s always worth talking to your prospective neighbours as well, to see if you can get some insight into potentially disturbing noise from people, music, parties, pets or children. 

 

Interior Space

An apartment is often smaller than a house, offering less space. Apartments in older buildings tend to be bigger, simply because the original buildings were built on a more generous scale than modern, purpose-built blocks are. But while your rooms and overall floor space might not be as large as a house, it can be quite a lot warmer. Imagine being in a block surrounded by other flats above, below and to the sides. They’ll help keep the heat in, and as a result your energy bills could be noticeably lower.

 

Outdoor Space

Most apartments don’t have much, if any, outdoor space. If you’re lucky you might get a balcony big enough to sit out on, maybe add a few plants and a bistro table and chairs. A basement or ground floor apartment can offer more outdoor space, perhaps a patio or paved area, even a small lawn. But you’re a lot more likely to get a decent-sized garden with a house. Will your pets or children need somewhere to play outdoors? If not, is there a suitable park or play space close by? 

 

Security

Secure entry systems, close neighbours, and reception staff or even a concierge mean an apartment can offer really good security, whereas a house can require extras like an alarm system, seriously secure door locks, and ground floor window locks.

 

Costs

The ongoing maintenance costs for a house can be notably higher than for a comparable apartment. Because it’s all yours, you’re responsible for everything that needs doing maintenance and decor-wise. Apartment living is often easier, coming with a cleaning and maintenance contract for the common areas which you pay a proportion of. 

 

The building itself

The look and style of the building itself is important to some people, to others it really doesn’t matter. Do you prefer the style and appearance of a house, or are you not bothered about the outside, you’re more concerned about the living space? The age of the building matters, simply because older blocks of flats tend to need more maintenance. And what about the heating and cooling systems? A modern block will be built to take climate change and energy costs into account, with environmentally responsible, highly efficient systems built-in, whereas an older building is what it is – potentially including legacy heating systems, not catering for extra-hot weather, with no air conditioning.  

 

Then, of course, there are the purchase costs themselves, which we’ll look at next.

The Cost of Buying a House or Apartment

 

How about the apartment vs house cost?  The purchase cost always matters, whether it’s a house or a flat. Whichever you choose you’ll have to pay out for solicitors fees, mortgage fees, valuation fees, survey costs, Stamp Duty, removals and a deposit. But apartments are often sold on a leasehold basis rather than freehold, and you’ll also need to take into account the ground rent, service costs and the ongoing costs involved in maintaining the outside of the building, including the roof, and the common areas you share with the people in the other flats. Last but not least, while the purchase prices for houses and flats are usually reasonably comparable, it’s easier to track down ‘affordably priced’ apartments than it is to find lower-priced houses. 

 

Pros and Cons of Houses vs Apartments

 

Do you understand the benefits of living in a house vs apartment? Let’s explore the key benefits of purchasing a house rather than an apartment. 

 

  • Houses are often freehold – while apartments are generally leasehold. You can buy freehold apartments, and buy apartments on a lease that you can later convert to freehold as long as everyone in the building agrees, but it can cost a lot of money and take a lot of time to arrange it.
  • Freehold houses don’t have ongoing service charges or ground rent payments, which is a good thing, but on the other hand you’ll be wholly responsible for maintaining the entire building if you buy a house. Replacing a roof, for example, can cost a fortune, but on the bright side with a house it’s up to you when you replace it. The decision is yours alone.
  • Houses provide opportunities for property development – whereas apartments generally don’t. If you want to create more space without having to move, it’s a lot more of a challenge with a flat. 
  • Houses are more likely to have some outdoor space, crucial to many buyers. Modern houses usually have smaller gardens but it’s much easier to find a house with a generous-sized garden, front and back. While ground floor and basement flats sometimes come with gardens, a balcony will probably be the best you can do. 
  • More apartments are being built these days, making houses the premium option.
  • Houses offer a lot more versatility around how you can use the space. You might need to work from home, from a home based office, or build an indoor-outdoor room in the garden. And while you can extend a house into the basement and attic, a flat is rarely extendable, and it’s harder to split the smaller rooms you get in flats into two to give you an extra room.
  • If you want to go rural, a house in the country is always a possibility – but a countryside apartment is pretty rare.  
  • A house is usually quieter than an apartment because you’re further away from other people, in your own private space. 
  • A house offers more discreet living than an apartment, where you’re a lot more visible.

There are some disadvantages associated with houses, of course. They can be less secure than apartment buildings, house prices can be higher than apartments offering comparable internal space, and house maintenance costs can be significantly higher than for apartments, especially when you buy an older home. Houses are a less sociable way to live as well as more expensive to heat and insulate than apartments, and the insurance costs for houses also tend to be higher.

Pros and Cons of Apartments vs Houses

 

So how about the key advantages of living in an apartment? Here are some of the key benefits around the benefits of living in an apartment vs house

 

  • Apartments are often located in urban areas – close to amenities, town centres and workplaces, near to bars and clubs, with access to all the benefits of inner-city or town centre living.
  • The maintenance costs for flats tend to be notably lower than for houses.
  • Apartments and apartment buildings tend to be more secure than houses, with built-in security at the front door as well as at the door of your flat, an extra layer of protection. Some even have a person on the door. 
  • It is generally easier to sell an apartment than a house simply because there is greater demand, with so many first-time buyers choosing flats over houses.
  • The insurance costs for flats are generally lower than for houses. The buildings insurance element of the policy is shared between all the flats, paid for between you, leaving you with just your own contents cover to arrange.
  • Apartment life is a sociable life – you meet the neighbours, you hear them coming and going, and you’re always aware there are people close by. It can feel great when you’re living alone, reassuring when you’ve just moved to a new area where you don’t know anyone. 

 

On the down side while friendly, lively neighbours can be great, they can also be a noisy nuisance. If you don’t like someone else’s taste in music or dogs barking or children screaming, it might prove a bit much to handle. You might not get much privacy. Apartments don’t often have exclusive outdoor space, maybe balconies or a roof garden if you’re lucky enough to be able to afford a penthouse apartment. Some blocks are surrounded by private gardens but they’re relatively rare. As we’ve mentioned there’s usually very little or no flexibility to extend or develop an apartment. And when you buy a house there’s no chance you’ll be left with a short lease with very little time left on it. While most flats are leasehold, almost every house is freehold.  

 

 Now to make up your mind

 

Apartment vs house? Now you know the pros and cons of apartment vs house, you should find it easier to decide. You want to live somewhere sociable, cheaper to run, with little or no maintenance, in a town or city centre, and you’re not bothered about outdoor space, go for a flat. If you want more privacy and seclusion, a patio or garden, no lease to worry about, and the option to extend or change the way you use the property and outside space, pick a house. 

We hope you have a wonderful time finding the home of your dreams. Can we help you with your  apartment vs house decision, using our years of experience, giving you support and expert insight into the property market?  Feel free to get in touch.