If you’re looking for your first (or second) place, the top thing to consider is your budget. It’s absolutely crucial to find something within a comfortable price range that won’t leave you strapped for cash. That said, if you have a little more to spend each month (or have extra roommates to split costs), you may consider renting a townhouse instead of an apartment.
Townhouses are attached homes, usually with 2-3 floors. Instead of spreading the space out over a large footprint like a traditional house or apartment, townhouses are built tall with multiple, smaller floors and the units are often attached to other townhouses, although each has a private entrance/front door.
As with everything, there are pros and cons of a townhouse versus an apartment.
Depending on your location, apartments are often a bit cheaper because they generally include less square footage. If your budget is tight, skip the townhouses and focus on apartments to keep it affordable. Even if your rent per month is comparable (and affordable), remember that other utility costs (water, electricity, and especially A/C & heat) will cost more per month in a townhouse, as you’ll have more space to light and climate control. If you have roommates to fill the extra space, costs may not be too much higher, but budget for these extras to make sure you can still afford the rental. If not, an apartment is likely the better fit for you.
Generally, townhouses include more square feet, more rooms, and stairs. That may be just what you’re looking for, especially if you have a handful of roommates or a pet. However, if you don’t need the space, it may be overwhelming to decorate and maintain, and extra space takes more time and effort to keep clean. Consider the stairs as well. If you’re not a fan, perhaps staying in an apartment is your best fit. If you like the idea of 2-stories of separate space, keep searching for a townhouses.
Amenities are one of the fun parts of having an apartment, and many apartment complexes include a complimentary gym and/or pool facility. In larger complexes, they also often include walking trails, dog parks, or park areas. If the townhouse you’re eyeing is standalone, in a smaller “neighborhood”, or not part of a complex, you likely won’t get access to amenities. Keep that in mind when you do your search, as you’ll have to pay for a pool or gym membership if you’d use them.
As a renter, most of your maintenance should be covered by your landlord. However, townhouses in suburbs can include grassy yards (fenced or not), so confirm that the front and back yard maintenance is not your responsibility. If it is, you’ll need to invest in lawn equipment (and invest time each week for doing yard work!). Apartments generally have no outdoor maintenance and the complex takes care of everything. Just confirm the maintenance agreement before making your decision!
What other factors are there when deciding between an apartment and a townhouses? There are pros and cons of both…which will you choose?