When searching for a new home, some of us have a hard time even knowing where to get started. Most listing sites will make you start with choosing what kind of property you’re looking for, whether that’s an apartment in a high rise, a unit in a multi-family home, a single family home, a condo, or townhouse.

Remember that each kind of property can come in a wide variety of styles. For example, a unit in a multi-family house could be anything from your own detached guest house to a couple rooms in the basement. Take a good look at each property’s listing, and don’t assume that just because it’s a single-family house, it will have all of the advantages that you’re expecting. However, this rough guide could give you a starting point, and some ideas for considerations you’ll need to think about with each kind of property.

Apartment or Condo in High Rise

If you change location frequently, and you want a really low-maintenance option, an apartment or condo might be the best way to go. The main difference between a condo and an apartment is in ownership. A condo is owned independently. Your landlord will be different from that of your neighbors. In an apartment, the whole building is owned and managed by the same person or group.

Pros

  • Good for temporary living, sometimes comes furnished
  • Often comes with awesome amenities, like a gym, parking structure, or even a pool
  • Lower cost for utilities, since you’re not maintaining a yard, and heating/cooling is kinda dispersed between tenants
  • Usually less space, which can be frustrating with kids or a large family
  • Often has on-site management and repair resources, so problems are taken care of quickly
  • Usually cheaper than other kinds of properties

Cons

  • You share walls with a lot of people
  • Less privacy, you’ll be sharing hallways and lobby and parking and any amenities with a lot of strangers
  • No garden or lawn space
  • Minimal storage

Townhouse

A townhouse is sort of a gradual compromise from the very temporary, shared-space feel of an apartment. In a townhome, you can expect to get your own entryway most of the time. YOu also sometimes have a little bit of a yard to yourself. However, you usually share walls with neighbors. This can cut back on energy bills somewhat, but it also means less privacy than a detached house.

Multi-Family Home

A multi-family home means that you’ll share a house with another family. Because these are often rented out by individuals who just have it as a side project, the standards are widely varied. You might have a lot of privacy, or hardly any. You might have access to the yard, or none at all.

Pros

  • Utilities are often included
  • You might have yard and garden space
  • You can live in a neighborly, residential area without the huge cost of getting a house

Cons

  • Inexperienced landlords can be stressful
  • Living cheek-by-jowl with strangers can be less than ideal
  • Depending on the situation, there might be minimal privacy

Single Family Home

A single family home is the situation that most people dream about. A house of your own, with a sweet little yard that you can do whatever you want with. You get total privacy, and flexibility and space to stretch out and take ownership of an area.

Pros

  • Plenty of privacy
  • Lots of space
  • Your own yard is great for kids and pets
  • Family-friendly neighborhood feel

Cons

  • More expensive
  • Utilities can get pricey
  • Repairs and help from landlord might be minimal

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