As a renter, one of the biggest questions you’ll have to answer is whether renting a house vs an apartment is the right decision for your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Apartment living and living in a rental home can be very different options, but overlap in many ways. So whether you’re renting in Boston, MA, or living in Raleigh, NC, you’ll have to decide which rental property fits your needs.
To help make the decision between these two options easier, we’ll outline the pros and cons of renting an apartment or a rental house.
Renting a house vs renting an apartment
There are many factors that go into the decision between renting a house or renting an apartment. Depending on the city you live in, this may be an easy choice. For example, there may simply be more apartment units available to rent than there are houses for rent.
However, in cities where the rental market is more competitive, you’ll have to consider your options carefully. Whether you’re sticking to a strict rental budget or you’re looking for a pet-friendly rental, there are many reasons why you may be considering renting an apartment or a house.
Pros and cons of renting an apartment
Apartment living is something that many people experience – especially if you’re a first-time renter. But apartment life isn’t for everyone and there are pros and cons to consider. Let’s dive into the common advantages and disadvantages of renting an apartment.
Pros of renting an apartment
Budget: Typically, renting an apartment is less expensive than renting a house. Budgeting for rent may be easier as these spaces are smaller and also generally are cheaper when it comes to utility costs.
Amenities: Apartment buildings often have additional amenities that many rental properties do not. These amenities can range from rooftop decks, reserved parking spaces, on-site gyms, or a swimming pool.
Less maintenance: In an apartment building you’re not going to be responsible for common outdoor spaces, cleaning the hallways, or exterior maintenance. In some places you may not even be responsible for in-unit repairs such as lightbulb changes, updating smoke detectors, or repairing an air conditioning unit. These repairs typically fall to your landlord to fix. You’ll also have a smaller space to clean each day compared to a house rental.
Location: Many apartments are often located in city centers or busy neighborhoods where there are lots of restaurants, shopping, and public transportation. There are certainly apartments in more suburban locations, but if you’re living in a big city, renting an apartment can get you closer to what the city has to offer.
Cons of renting an apartment
Noise: Living in an apartment community means that you’re likely going to hear noise from your neighbors. And depending on how the apartment is insulated and constructed, this noise may get quite loud.
Privacy: Yes, you’ll likely have neighbors in a rental home, but in an apartment, you’ll always have neighbors including those living above you. If you live in a tall apartment complex, your unit may even be visible from the street.
Lack of space: Apartments, especially those in major cities, can be quite small such as a flat or a pied à terre, which means you’ll have to get creative with your storage. It’s also unlikely that you’ll have an outdoor space, unless you’re living in a ground-floor or garden apartment.
Design limits: When living in an apartment you have fewer options to design your space. It’s unlikely you’ll be allowed to paint the walls and in some places, you may not even be able to use nails to hang pictures on the wall.
Lack of parking: If you’re living in a city center you may choose not to have a car since everything is at your fingertips. But if you do end up having a car while renting an apartment, there’s a good chance this will cost you extra and you may even have to deal with a tandem parking situation if the available space is limited.
Pros and cons of renting a house
If you’re looking for more space or you’re a more experienced renter looking to test out homeownership, renting a house can be a step on the path to buying your first home. But there may be other reasons why renting a house isn’t the right choice. Here are the common advantages and disadvantages of renting a home.
Pros of renting a house
Privacy: Unless you’re renting a duplex or home that has shared walls with neighboring properties, chances are you’ll have more privacy than an apartment. However, keep in mind you may still have noisy neighbors even in a house.
More space: In general, you’ll have more space when renting a house. Whether that’s added private outdoor space, more rooms, square footage, or extra space for your belongings, rental homes are often spacious compared to an apartment unit.
Freedom: As a renter, it’s likely you’ll have more freedom to make small design changes such as painting the walls. However, not all landlords will be flexible in what you can and can’t do or they may ask you to revert the home back to its original condition when your rental or lease agreement ends.
Potential to sublease a room: When renting an apartment, especially in a large apartment complex, it’s unlikely that you can sublease your unit. However, when renting a house, you may be able to sublease a room in the home, allowing you to reduce your monthly rent costs.
Cons of renting a house
More maintenance: With more space comes more day-to-day maintenance. In some instances, your landlord may provide landscaping services, but other times it may be in your lease that you’re responsible for this maintenance. Similarly, you’ll have more housework if you’re renting a three bedroom home compared to a studio or efficiency apartment.
Higher rent prices (on average): Typically, renting a home costs more than renting an apartment. However, depending on the type of home or apartment you’re looking to rent these prices can vary. Monthly rent prices will also vary based on the housing market and the area you’re living in. Make sure to take into account your financial situation when choosing the right place.
Landlord relationship: When renting a house, you’ll have to maintain a relationship with your landlord, like you would if you were renting an apartment. However, the type of relationship may be different. Some landlords rent out their homes as a personal investment, which means you may have more interactions with them than you typically would with a property management company. Some landlords may just check in more often to make sure there’s nothing that needs fixing, whereas a property management company will wait for you to contact them if something is in need of repairs.
Location: For the most part, rental homes will be located further away from city centers, public transportation, and are not necessarily within walking distance from shops and restaurants. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find rental homes in cities, they may just be more expensive.
Deciding between renting a house vs apartment final thoughts
Choosing between renting a house or apartment is largely up to your lifestyle and financial circumstances. If you have a more flexible budget, you’re looking for more indoor and outdoor space, and don’t mind being further away from the city center, a house rental may be the right choice. If you want to keep your budget under a certain price, want to live closer to the city, and don’t need as much space, then an apartment may be the better option.
How to find house or apartment rentals in your area
From luxury apartments, single family homes, to simple studios there are many home styles and different types of apartments you can rent. So whether you pick an apartment or rental home, Redfin can help you find a place that fits your needs.
1. Go to Redfin.com and click “Rent”. You’ll type into the Search Bar either the city’s name or the zip code (for example, Austin, TX) where you’d like to begin looking for an apartment or rental home. Press enter.
2. Near the top of the next page, on the right side, you will see “All filters.” Click on that.
3. From there you can narrow down your search by the number of bedrooms, home type, and price. Depending on your preferences, you’ll see apartments that meet your needs.
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