Thinking about buying a house or an apartment? Choosing what type of property to buy is no easy decision, especially for first time homebuyers. Weighing up whether to buy an apartment or a house depends on your financial situation, your lifestyle and your property goals.
For example, young single buyers and couples without children might be satisfied living in an apartment that’s close to the city, while families might prefer the space and flexibility of a house in the suburbs. If you’re buying a property as an investor, there are a whole lot of other considerations to make as well.
We’ve outlined the advantages and disadvantages of buying an apartment and a house, as well as key considerations to make before taking the plunge.
Pros and cons of buying a house
Depending on your circumstances and goals, there are a number of potential benefits and drawbacks to owning a house.
- More floor space – better suited to families or those thinking about starting a family
- Outdoor areas – houses usually have outdoor yard areas while apartments often do not
- Privacy – living in a detached house offers more privacy than being in an apartment
- Choice – if you own a house, you typically don’t have to worry about strata laws and you’ll have greater flexibility when renovating as long as you abide by council and building regulations
- Higher cost – as you’d expect, buying a house is usually more expensive at the outset and comes with higher maintenance costs and bills
- Upkeep – more space means more areas to be maintained, like lawns, windows, gutters etc.
- More responsibility – unlike an apartment where strata management likely takes care of certain aspects of repairs and maintenance, in a house this is all your responsibility
- May not be eligible for the first home buyer grant – buying a house above the value limit for your state may exempt you from receiving the first home buyer grant
Pros and cons of buying an apartment
For the right type of buyer, owning an apartment offers benefits than outweigh those of owning a house. Here are some of the key potential advantages and disadvantages.
- Affordability – apartments are generally cheaper to buy than houses, although there are exceptions to this rule
- Location – apartments are typically situated in closer proximity to the city centre, so they offer easier accessibility to transport, shops, restaurants etc.
- More facilities – apartment buildings often have amenities like a gym and pool
- Less maintenance – less space means less upkeep, and strata will often look after external maintenance and repair tasks
- Less flexibility – being in an apartment building means you have to follow the strata by-laws and rules of the owners’ corporation, which can include restrictions on renovations and owning pets
- Less privacy – living in close quarters in an apartment building offers less privacy than living in a house
- Fees – you will be need to pay fees to the owners’ corporation to cover shared maintenance costs
Buying a house vs. an apartment: What to consider
Choosing whether to buy a house or an apartment is a personal decision, so it depends on your situation and what you’re looking for out of a property. With that in mind, here are some of the questions to consider before making a decision.
Am I buying to invest or occupy?
If you’re buying a property to live in straight away, it makes sense to take into account your own lifestyle and requirements when choosing between an apartment and a house. On the other hand, if you’re buying an investment property, it’s most important to consider the state of the market and what other tenants and buyers are looking for in your area.
What can I afford?
You might dream of owning a spacious home, but the reality is that houses are usually more expensive than apartments, so doing so might not be financially feasible for you. Only borrow what you can afford, and if that limits you to an apartment, remember that it’s just a stepping stone to buying your ultimate home further down the line.
What are my future plans?
Think about your needs now and in the future. If you plan on starting or growing a family soon, it could make sense to buy a house that offers the space you’ll need, even if that means moving to a location further out of the city. Likewise, if you have older children or are moving into retirement, downsizing to a smaller house or an apartment could be a smarter move.
- How worried should home owners be about the housing slump
- Do you have enough money to invest in property?
- What the drop in housing prices means for first time home buyers
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