Apartment vs House: Which Should I Rent?

“Rent or buy?” isn’t the only choice when looking for a new place to live. Because once the decision to rent is made, there’s often one more decision that needs to be made:

Should you rent an apartment or a house?

The right answer for you may depend on your needs as they relate to the following five categories. If you’re weighing the pros and cons of apartments vs. houses, ApartmentSearch can help!

The Great Apartment vs. House Debate

1. Cost

Rent an apartment if:

You have to be budget conscious. Besides the costs savings provided by the general difference in square footage between the two, renting an apartment also means sparing your wallet the costs related to heating or cooling a larger space. Lawn care might not be covered in your rental agreement, further extending your expenses.

Rent a house if:

Your budget allows it, and you have pressing needs that call for a larger space. One such need would be family. A growing number of Gen X buyers host adult children and their own parents in their homes. That makes the additional space afforded by a house — as well as the yard and privacy — essential.

2. Maintenance

Rent an apartment if:

Time is at a premium and any maintenance beyond the minimum would be difficult. Irrespective of what your landlord is responsible for versus what you’re responsible for, a house has more moving parts than an apartment. Which means more maintenance for you, the tenant, is required. You might need to perform basic care to ensure nothing breaks down. That might require cleaning refrigerator coils and cleaning or replacing heating and air filters.

Rent a house if:

Maintenance requirements don’t give you pause. You might even be among those who enjoy working around the house. According to one study, 62 percent of home dwellers gave themselves a grade of A or B when it came to maintenance. (Fewer than 1 percent gave themselves an F.) If you’re an “A” student at home maintenance, it shouldn’t give you any pause at all.

3. Flexibility

Rent an apartment if:

Being nimble is important to you. Whether renting an apartment or a house, both offer the same freedom of movement that carrying a mortgage can’t provide. The difference is a matter of scale. If a new career opportunity presents itself, or a spouse receives a job transfer three states over, you’ll need less time to gather all of your belongings. In this sense, a weakness against apartments in the apartment vs. house debate — not having enough storage space — becomes a virtue.

Rent a house if:

You like to flex your design muscles a little. When renting a house, landlords are more apt to allow you to repaint, change light fixtures, and make other relatively subtle changes to make the place seem more your own. It’s a level of flexibility apartment living doesn’t typically afford you.

4. Amenities

Rent an apartment if:

Walking is your thing. The trend is irrefutable: walkable communities are popular. People want to be able to walk to local shops, community centers, and, if possible, their jobs. This often means apartment living. And apartment living comes with other conveniences, such as on-site gyms. For those in luxury apartments, it might also mean enclosed workspaces, cooking classes, and even bicycle repair stations.

Rent a house if:

You can supply your own amenities.

  • Already have exercise equipment? Then it’s easy enough to implement an on-site gym.
  • Do you find yourself doing laundry a lot? Few apartment buildings can compete with the ready access to a washer and dryer you’ll enjoy.
  • Is online shopping a big thing for you? Then not being readily near shops won’t bother you, since the post office delivers everywhere.

And the amenity a house offers that few apartments can? Privacy. Depending onyour sensitivity to noise (or nosy neighbors), this amenity may tip the scales toward a house in the matchup of houses vs. apartments.

5. Lifestyle

Rent an apartment if:

Your interests rely on the proximity or convenience that an apartment affords. Do you enjoy eating out? Attending major sporting events? Checking out art exhibits? Being close to such attractions — or at least being close to the public transportation or freeway that can get you there — means the more tightly compacted and affordable quarters offered by apartment living.

Rent a house if:

You can still eat out and attend cultural events if you rent a house, of course. But single-family housing is more concentrated in the suburbs, closer to schools and strip malls than to sports arenas and concert venues. Renting a house means more time on maintenance, and it might also mean living with family members vying for your time in one way or another, whether they’re young children, aging parents, or a partner. All that means less time spent out on the town. Being close to family and friends is a crucial factor in deciding where one lives; if you’re at a point in your life where a domestic lifestyle appeals to you, renting a house makes a lot of sense.


If you've weighed the pros and cons and have decided that an apartment is the right fit for you, turn to ApartmentSearch. We'll help you find the perfect apartment and reward you with $200 when you sign your new lease!

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