Is it better to rent a townhouse, condo or apartment?

Whether you’re renting your own place for the first time or are moving again, you’re probably looking at various rental options. Perhaps your first thought was to rent an apartment. However, townhouses and condos are also available to rent. Now that you know what some of your options are, learn more about the differences and compare the advantages, disadvantages and costs.

What’s an Apartment?

The main difference between a townhouse and an apartment is its structural management and organization. Townhouses are free-standing and give the impression of being a traditional house. An apartment is a unit in a larger building that encompasses a community all inside the same walls. There are multiple tenants, all managed by the same entity with the same regulations for everybody. Most renters live in apartments.

The difference between a townhouse and an apartment

Advantages of Renting an Apartment

The biggest advantage of renting an apartment is cost. For several reasons, renting an apartment versus a townhouse or condo might be less expensive in the long run. Renting an apartment for the first time can be scary — more so when you learn that you should make at least 40 times the rent in annual wages. Yet renting an apartment as opposed to a condo or a townhouse can reduce the number of expenses you pay and the cost of those expenses you do have. Here are some of the other benefits of renting an apartment:

  • Maintenance: Low maintenance is one of the primary reasons to rent an apartment. Home repairs can be expensive, but when you rent an apartment, the owners and managers are responsible for maintaining the property. You might have to replace lightbulbs, but fixing a broken pipe or making sure the heater is running properly is the management’s job. These services are provided free of cost.
  • Utilities: Another pro of renting an apartment is that utilities could be included in your rent. If so, you won’t need to worry about other bills, and you might spend less than renting somewhere similar where utilities aren’t included.
  • Amenities: Some amenities are often available, such as laundry facilities or a community room. Amenities are usually included in the rent and could be less expensive than finding the same facilities outside of where you live. For example, you wouldn’t need to pay for a gym membership if your apartment has a fitness center. The location alone will save you travel costs.
  • No HOA fees: Because all the apartments at a particular property are owned by the same entity, there is no homeowners association (HOA) and, therefore, no HOA fees. While an apartment might have utilities and amenities, you’ll never have to pay for community repairs or upkeep. Rent is your only responsibility.

Advantages of Renting an Apartment [list]

Apartments are more systematic and usually more organized than other rental types, so this can take a lot of stress off your mind if you plan to rent long-term. They are generally less demanding for renters to manage, and many options are available. If frequent upkeep and budget are some of your primary concerns, then renting an apartment could be right for you.

Disadvantages of Renting an Apartment

Most of the disadvantages of renting an apartment relate to management’s rules. Apartments are, after all, part of a community, and property managers want everybody on the same page. 

  • Pet policies: No pets is a common rule in apartment buildings. Pets can be messy and may not like limited space, so many landlords don’t allow them at all. Others have a pet deposit or additional monthly fee. If you have a pet, be upfront about it and be prepared to pay a little extra for apartments that allow pets.
  • Limited customization: Renting an apartment typically means you are limited when it comes to customizing your space. Likely, you cannot paint or replace too many things. This might not seem like a big deal, but if you are a free spirit or DIY connoisseur, it could be.
  • Size: Apartments tend to be smaller than the average townhouse or condo. The living space is usually not very spacious in an apartment. You shouldn’t expect a formal dining room or a yard at an apartment.

Renting an apartment is good if you want to keep costs low and don’t spend much time at home. If you’re more of a homebody, renting a townhouse might be better for you.

The cost to rent

Average Costs of Renting an Apartment

The cost to rent an apartment will likely be less than the cost to rent a townhouse or a condo, but prices can be higher or lower depending on where you rent. Cities and urban areas typically have a higher cost of living, while suburban or rural areas are usually cheaper.

What's a townhouse?

What’s a Townhouse?

Fewer renters are interested in townhouses. There are many differences between a condo and a townhouse, but both are two of the least popular rental options. However, townhouses can be the compromise between wanting to live in a single-family home but not wanting to move to the suburbs. The architecture of a townhouse sets it apart from a condo or an apartment. They often include a small yard, a garage and at least two stories, but share at least one wall with the neighboring house. This shared wall is what distinguishes townhomes from detached single-family homes. They are sometimes called row homes because of this arrangement.

Advantages of Renting a Townhouse [list]

Advantages of Renting a Townhouse

The main advantage of renting a townhouse is the change in lifestyle. Renting a townhouse is similar to renting an apartment, except you may be responsible for HOA fees. Living in a townhouse is comparable to owning a home minus the mortgage loan. This means more space, fewer restrictions and a taste of suburbia, among other things.

  • Size: A townhouse is larger than an apartment. Townhouses can be two to three stories high, giving you lots of space for dining, entertaining and storage. Most townhouses also include areas for outside activities, such as grilling, barbecuing or playing games in the yard. 
  • Pets: Because a townhouse is meant to be more like a traditional home — and typically has a yard — they are more likely to allow pets. Check with the homeowners association or management to be sure.
  • Privacy: Townhouses offer more privacy than an apartment or a condo would. With apartments and condos, you typically share a ceiling and floor with other tenants in addition to the left and right walls. Given the row by row line-up of townhouses, tenants only have to share a wall on either side with their neighbors, and these walls will likely be soundproof. You may not want to throw a party mid-week, but playing some guitar in your room probably won’t stir up any complaints
  • Amenities: Like apartments, many townhouse communities come with amenities, including trash removal, swimming pools and gyms.
  • Neighborhood: Being part of a traditional neighborhood is another benefit of living in a townhouse. Townhouses often have a closer sense of community than is standard for an apartment or condo. It is normal to feel isolated initially, no matter where you move. Renting a townhouse might be right for you if this is one of your fears. In a townhouse community, you’re more likely to interact with neighbors and make friends. 

Consider renting a townhouse if you cherish traditional values, a relatively quiet home life and an ample amount of space, but you aren’t ready to commit to buying a house yet.

Disadvantages of Renting a Townhouse

The greatest disadvantage of renting a townhouse is dealing with the management of space. As townhomes offer the feeling of homeownership, you’ll want to consider a few extra things associated with maintenance and living space. For this reason, it is easier to rent an apartment than to rent a condo or townhouse. Renting a townhouse is only a good idea if you can handle something quite similar to a home and that neighborhood that comes along with it.

  • HOA fees: HOA fees often cover things like landscaping, exterior maintanence, insurance and storm damage repairs. This can be convenient or a nuisance. Often your landlord may include these fees in your monthly rent, but it is something to consider either way if you are concerned about your budget.
  • Responsibilities: Townhouses, unlike apartments, might include a backyard or front yard. While your landlord can cover maintenance in the home, you should inquire whether you are responsible for the yard and the exterior of the townhouse or whether an outside party handles it. Townhouse residents are sometimes expected to maintain a certain standard and uniform appearance for their townhome. You may be obligated to shovel your driveway or restricted in what kind of holiday decorations you can put up.
  • Restrictions: Because of the homeowner’s associations, you’ll be obligated to follow a set of rules for the neighborhood. There are often restrictions on parking, pool hours, renovations and any other change that can affect how the community is standardized. 
  • Utilities: Since a townhouse is more like a traditional home, renters are usually responsible for paying for utilities. Be prepared for higher utility bills than in apartments since there is more space to light and heat. The HOA may include some utilities in the monthly fee.

Renting a townhouse comes with many benefits, but replicating homeownership can be costly and comes with many responsibilities. Before you move into a townhouse, make sure you’re ready.

Average Costs of Renting a Townhouse

Renting a townhouse is usually more expensive than an apartment or a condo because you get so much more space. Again, actual rent prices vary based on location. Townhouses can also be more expensive because of the additional HOA fees.

What’s a Condo?

Wondering whether to rent a condo or apartment? There’s little difference. The only difference between an apartment and a condo has to do with ownership. Condos are privately owned by individuals. You as a tenant rent from that individual rather than a professionally managed corporation. Physically, most condos aren’t very different from apartments. A condo can be a promising alternative if you find that apartments are too restrictive and townhouses are too much effort. Very few renters rent condos.

Renting a condo vs an apartment

Advantages of Renting a Condo

The advantages of living in a condo are directly related to its management. Working with a private owner affects how issues are treated and how comforts are offered. Renting a condo is right for you if you favor a personal touch.

  • Style: Condos are inclined to have character. Your landlord likely lived in the condo at some point and may have decorated with a unique taste compared to the often generic setup of an apartment. Altering the interior of your space is typically less restrictive in a condo. Especially if you’re a long-term resident, your landlord may be willing to let you paint or make other adjustments that fit with your personal style.
  • Personability: This personal touch comes with a personal relationship with your landlord. Interacting with an individual rather than a management company can be rewarding. Making accommodations can be effortless with a compassionate person. It can be less unnerving than confronting somebody official who walks around with a rule book.
  • Care: The personability of the place might also prompt your landlord to take special care of it. You can get the attention of the owner without much trouble because your landlord cares about everything looking good and working properly just as much as you do. A private condo may have regular carpet and wall cleanings, for example. This surpasses conventional care.
  • Quality: A reputation for luxury follows condos. Condos were built to be owned, so appliances are high-quality, the walls have a neat coat of paint, floors are shiny. Renting a condo means these luxurious commodities are all available to you.
  • Amenities: Condos can also have amenities just like apartments do. Pools, gyms and community rooms are often available for tenants.
  • Deals: Condos come with a fixed advantage. The singular nature of condos gives prospective tenants a lot of breathing room when negotiating costs. Apartments have more availability than condos and are in high demand year long. Condos, conversely, are never in excess. Granted, some condos cost a little more than your average apartment, but if you have the funds and just want to go a bit lower, the owner may bargain with you if they are not looking to make a huge profit. Many people think that condos intrinsically cost more than apartments. However, in the same area, condo rates are typically similar. Finding prices that match what you can afford on an apartment is another reason to rent a condo instead.

Condos can be a great choice if you have a talent for compromise and negotiation and can effortlessly haggle with an individual landlord. Once you reach an understanding, you can afford some independence in your own living space, with less responsibility than renting a townhouse might allow for.

Disadvantages of Renting a Condo

The disadvantages of renting a condo stem from the same origin as the advantages of renting a condo — individuals. When working with individuals, there is not a set of foundational guidelines that condo owners are entrusted with to conduct business. Everything is case-by-case.

Although the free rein of condos makes them highly desirable among some renters, many of their advantages can easily become disadvantages. Without adequate research, renting a condo may be like tossing a coin.

  • Limited maintenance: In condos, there is not a corporate entity providing 24-hour supervision. If something goes wrong in your apartment, there is always somebody to take care of it. With a condo, you have to work with the schedule of the condo owner, if doing repairs is even a mutual agreement. Since condos are not regulated the same way as apartments, your landlord could decide not to be responsible for the maintenance or upkeep of the property. The owner is hopefully invested in the property, but often not without a price.
  • Lack of availability: Earlier we talked about homeowners associations. Your condo search may be disappointing when you find that the HOAs of many condominiums ban owners from renting out their property. Needless to say, this takes most condos off the market.
  • Cost: Owners want the rent to cover their costs for owning the condo. To break even, rent has to be higher than the monthly cost of the mortgage, insurance, HOA fees and taxes. Ideally, the owner will make a profit as well.
  • Level of professionalism: Your landlord may not have professional experience in renting out properties. This is the ultimate disadvantage of condos and why most people will choose to rent an apartment or townhouse. There is a dependability that comes with relying on a well-established company that excels at renting out property. Routine procedures and historical success are valuable virtues in any endeavor and are paramount in a rental search.

Average Costs of Renting a Condo

Average Costs of Renting a Condo

Condos often cost less than townhouses and, contrary to popular thought, can be similar in price to apartments. But it isn’t always so. The most significant factor after location is size. A condo downtown will cost more than one in the suburbs, and a larger condo will cost more than a smaller unit.

Find Your Next Home at Triple Crown Corporation

Deciding where to spend the next year of your life is not easy. You may be struggling to choose between a townhouse versus an apartment versus a condo. All three options come with plenty of pros and cons, after all.

Instead of asking, “What’s better?” ask, “What’s right for me?” An apartment for the budget-friendly. A townhouse if you need more space but hate the suburbs. A condo for a nice in-between. Think about what makes a home special to you.

If you think a townhouse or apartment could be right for you, check out our rental communities. Triple Crown Corporation has more than a dozen professionally managed properties, so you’re sure to find one that fits you. Many of our properties allow pets and include appliances such as a washer and dryer. Many of our luxury townhomes feature fireplaces and vaulted ceilings. See if renting one of our apartments or townhouses is right for you!

Find Your Next Home at Triple Crown Corporation

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