Townhouse vs. House: Find Out What’s Best for You

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You have many choices to consider when buying a house. How many bedrooms do you want? What key features are most important to you? Where do you want to live? And, what type of home do you want -- a townhouse or a free-standing house? Townhouses are like most other houses, except that they are narrow, multi-storied, and attached to other houses on the street. You might see a row of 10 townhouses attached to each other on a block. People who own townhouses pay homeowners association (HOA) fees that cover varying elements of the townhome or complex (like yard or community pool maintenance, insurance, etc.). Detached homes, on the other hand, are free-standing buildings that do not touch each other. The owner owns the home and the land on all sides of the building. They pay no HOA fees and are responsible for the entire property. When looking to buy a home, there are several things to consider if you are debating between a townhouse vs. house. Here are a few differences and factors that may sway your decision.  

What is popular in the area you want to live?

One of the biggest factors that you need to consider when debating between a townhouse vs. house is availability. Some neighborhoods are predominantly made up or townhouses, while other areas are mainly made up of detached houses. For example, urban areas are mostly made up of townhomes. You often have to travel farther out into the suburbs before you can find stand-alone homes that meet your budget. It may be better to look for an area that you want to live in and see what home types are available before deciding on the house type.

Is low outdoor maintenance a priority?

Along with considering location, also take into consideration how much time and effort you can put into home maintenance. Townhomes are often preferred by first-time buyers and people who do not want to worry about maintenance. The yards are typically smaller than in detached houses if they exist at all. Some homeowners associations cover the entire exterior maintenance costs of townhomes, so homeowners only have to worry about keeping up their interiors. Many homeowners say they want a big yard, a pool, and other outdoor amenities, but then don’t have the time and budget to maintain them. A townhouse is an alternative option for a low-maintenance house.  

How do you feel about nearby neighbors?

One of the main reasons people choose detached or single-family houses over townhomes is privacy and space. It is sometimes possible to hear your neighbors when you share a wall in a townhome, and you may run into them more when you step outside or sit in your backyard. A detached house provides you with space. You don’t have shared walls, and various trees or fences can block your view from your neighbors (and vice versa). While you might not have much more space in a detached house, you will have more than in a townhome.

Do you want to make changes to the exterior of the home?

The vast majority of townhouses are built at once, which means they are uniform. You will likely see a row of townhouses where the only differences are minor decorations on the doors and windows of owners. Houses, on the other hand, tend to provide more flexibility for design and improvements to the curb appeal. While HOAs can limit the types of additions you can make, houses within a neighborhood tend to be different and unique. Some people increase their shade by planting large trees while others build porches with overhangs for resting in the summer. If you want to embrace your inner HGTV fan and redesign your exterior, then you may want to look at a stand-alone house.  

How much interior space do you want?

One of the main deciding factors in the debate over townhouse vs. house is room. Some people amass large collections of holiday decorations that need storage throughout the year. Other people need a home office, garage, or workspace that a townhouse can’t provide. In this case, a single-family home is a better option. By opting for a stand-alone house, you can find a bigger living space or a living layout that works better for your needs than a narrow, vertical townhouse.   Additionally, even if you don’t have the space you need in a house, you can use your bigger yard to create space and storage. You can build an addition on the land or buy a shed for the backyard for various items and decorations. This flexibility helps you better plan your life.  

Townhouse vs. House: Have an Experienced Realtor® Help You Decide

You don’t have to put all of the pressure on yourself to pick the perfect place. If you’re still on the fence for whether you want a townhouse or a house, we’re here to help. Use Effective Agents to get paired with an experienced Realtor® who can listen to your wish list and help you find the home (or townhome) that will give you everything you want and need.  

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Our team of dedicated Content Specialists at creates insightful and engaging content about the real estate market. With backgrounds in journalism and a passion for helping people navigate the complexities of buying and selling homes, our writers bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to every article.

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