Deciding where to live is often the first major decision you’ll be faced with upon moving to a new city or country. In the U.S., there are several types of homes to consider, the most popular options being apartments, condominiums, or single-family houses.
To help you determine the best choice for your family and navigate some of the real estate lingo, we have outlined below some of the key characteristics of each housing option.
Apartments are typically units in low-rise buildings or high-rise complexes that house a large number of residents. Units offered may include studio apartments for single dwellers, or up to three bedrooms and full bathrooms for families. An apartment listing may indicate “half” or “full” bathrooms: a “half” bathroom only includes a toilet and sink, whereas a “full” bathroom includes a toilet, sink, and shower or bathtub.
There may be a single entrance to the apartment complex or individual entrances for each unit, though in high-rise apartment complexes, individual entrances are uncommon.
Services such as mail and package delivery, as well as fitness or business centers, are often shared within the community. Laundry rooms may be shared with other residents in a common facility located in the complex, or in some cases, washers and dryers may be provided in each unit.
Most major appliances, such as refrigerators, stoves, ovens, and air conditioning units are provided in an apartment. There are also few maintenance requirements in an apartment, as the building will often take care of any malfunctioning appliances. However, apartment renters are typically required to set up and pay for their own utilities.
In an apartment complex, parking may be limited or cost a monthly fee, and there may be restrictions on pets allowed in the building or additional charges for having pets in your apartment.
Condominiums or townhouses are multi-residential, connected units. Condos often come with the benefit of personal yard or garden space and access to garage or street parking.
Like apartments, condominiums have mail services and often—but not always—offer appliances in-unit. As there are fewer shared spaces in a condo, business and fitness centers are less common offerings.
Rental costs for condos or townhouses tend to fall between that of an apartment and that of a single-family house. Families may choose a condo over an apartment complex because they seek more privacy in their unit; condos typically have individual entrances and are designed horizontally rather than vertically, which may give them a more intimate feel.
Single-family homes are, as their name suggests, standalone residential properties. There are several varieties of single-family houses. They may be one or more stories with multiple entrances, and you may hear them described as “ranch-style” (with all rooms on one floor and lower to the ground); “colonial” (symmetrical in appearance, often with a chimney and garage); or “Victorian” (asymmetrical in style, often with rounded or textured exteriors and steeply sloping roofs).
Single-family houses, as would be expected, cost significantly more than an apartment or condo. They offer maximum privacy, personal garage and parking access, and outdoor yard space. They may also be located in closer proximity to local schools.
Along with these benefits, house owners are fully responsible for all property and utilities maintenance and, due to what is usually a more suburban location than you would find with an apartment complex, may face higher property taxes and overall costs of living.
For additional information on deciding where to live in your new home, contact CORE to request our downloadable Guide to Daily Living in the U.S.!