House vs. Apartment: The Pros and Cons of Renting a Single Family Home

by Steffi Cook | Updated: Sep 19, 2022

Everyone needs a place to call home. The type of living space can vary and there are lots of options to choose from. You’ve got lofts and apartments, condos, duplexes and single-family houses, to name a few.

Before you plan a move and sign a lease, it’s important to determine what type of space is right for you. We’re going to talk about the differences between a house versus an apartment so you can make an informed decision and turn your next rental into the perfect place.

What is a single-family home?

A single-family home is a detached, stand-alone building on its own plot of land with no shared walls. Typically, single-family homes will have their own entrance and yard. The home and the area around the home are for the renter only. You can rent or purchase single-family homes.

What is an apartment?

Comparatively, an apartment is a space to rent within a larger building. An apartment complex houses several units and the units share walls and other features. While renters will have their own doors to enter their apartment, they’re all housed within one large complex or building. Apartments are generally not owned by the occupant, just rented.

Key differences between a rental house vs. an apartment

While you can rent both apartments and single-family homes, there are some commonalities and differences.

Commonalities of houses and apartments

  • Houses and apartments are both rented from a landlord or property management company
  • You can choose your location
  • You can choose your desired amenities when house or apartment hunting
  • You sign a lease to rent both houses and apartments

Differences between houses and apartments

  • You can purchase houses whereas apartments are usually rented only
  • Apartments are part of a building complex with shared walls and entryways
  • Houses stand-alone and have their own yard, walls and entryway

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty and talk about the pros and cons of houses vs. apartments.

Pros and cons of living in a single-family home vs apartment

If you’re trying to decide between a house vs. an apartment, here’s everything you need to know to make the right decision for you and your family.

Pros of renting a house

Home with a fenced yard for privacy.

Privacy

Because house rentals are on their own plot of land, you’ll have more privacy. You’re not right next to another apartment building and it will generally be quieter compared to apartment living. You’ll have your own space compared to shared spaces, therefore, more privacy.

Space

Houses are often larger than apartment rentals. Usually, an apartment has one to two bedrooms and a combined living room and kitchen area. Houses often have more rooms and a backyard.

Houses are great rental options for families who need more room for their kids, additional bedrooms and a backyard for entertaining or playing. If you work from home, it’s smart to consider a house with more rooms, too, as you can use an extra room as a dedicated office space.

Fewer restrictions

Apartment complexes usually have strict rules and restrictions that apply to all tenants. When you’re dealing with hundreds of renters, it’s important to have a set of ground rules to keep peace and order in the buildings. These restrictions could include quiet hours, parking rules, decorative restrictions or pet policies, for example.

That being said, single-family lease agreements will likely have fewer restrictions. In a lot of scenarios, you can paint and decorate how you please, own a pet and host as many parties as you like given you’re in your own private space. Make sure to read the details in your lease agreement, though, so you don’t violate any restrictions that are in place.

Backyard dinner party at a single-family home.

Neighborhood and community

If you’re looking to settle down in a neighborhood with other families, single-family homes are a great choice. These rental houses are in neighborhoods where there are other owners or renters. You can choose your location, neighborhood and school system and settle down there.

You’ll have lots of opportunities to get involved in the community and become friends with your neighbors. Apartment renters can also feel a sense of community, but single-family housing is prime for sparking feelings of community.

Safety

Single-family homes are safer because you can install security systems for renters. With fewer restrictions, you can monitor your home and property with your own tools and resources instead of relying on apartment security.

Do your research to see what crime rates look like in your neighborhood so you can rent a home in a safe location.

Apartment complex caters to children with a playground.

Amenities

Amenities are features like parking spaces, gym access, playgrounds and pools included with the rental property. Single-family homes are great for amenities like space and guaranteed parking. Houses will have their own garages or driveways so you can always park your car and avoid the struggle to find a parking stall. Additionally, houses will have more space for entertaining and storing your goods.

Personalization

Generally speaking, you can personalize a home more than an apartment because you’ll have fewer restrictions. You can paint, hang art and buy furniture for indoor and outdoor spaces and arrange how you please. You’ll have more space to personalize in a house vs. an apartment.

Cons of renting a house

As with all things, there are cons to single-family houses, too.

Cost

Because you have more space and a bigger property, house rentals are almost always more expensive than apartments. You’ll pay more in rent and utilities. However, renting an older home is usually less expensive than a brand-new apartment complex. Do your research on pricing comparisons between apartments and single-family homes in your desired location.

Repairs may fall on you if you rent a home.

Maintenance and upkeep

It’s usually up to the renter of a house to maintain the property and yard. That means you’ll be in charge of mowing the lawn, shoveling the sidewalks and general landscaping duties. If you want that beautiful yard for backyard barbecues, you’ve got to put in the work to upkeep it.

When you rent an apartment, the landlord or property manager will be responsible for the facility upkeep, which is a bonus for people who don’t want to maintain the yard.

Amenities

Houses lack common apartment amenities like gyms, pools and community spaces. Apartment renters can receive gym and pool access as part of their rent, whereas homeowners may have to pay additional fees to go to the local gym.

Management resources

While single-family homes will have a landlord to rely on for major fixes and maintenance, you won’t have access to ad-hoc management and maintenance services like apartment dwellers. Usually, you’ll work one-on-one with your landlord as a house renter and that can mean slower timetables for getting repairs done.

Making the right choice for your housing needs

Neither option is right or wrong. It all depends on your stage of life, budget and needs. Houses vs. apartments have several pros and cons and it’s smart to create a wish list and a need list to determine the best housing option for you.

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