Housing Options 101

When it comes to housing options, there are more than you might think. Beyond single-family homes and apartments lies condominiums, duplexes, townhomes and multi-family houses. Each type of home has its various benefits. Choosing the type of home that fits your living situation depends on several factors, including:

  • Your budget
  • Your family size
  • Your location
  • Your credit history
  • Your financial situation 

Even in their respective categories, these housing options have many varieties. The best way to determine which type of home is right for you is to weigh your options. Learn more about these various types of homes to see which one might be right for you. 

Single-Family Homes

A single-family house is one that is independent of other houses. It can be as small as a one-bedroom complex to as large as a multi-level mansion. Either way, it is distinct from other housing types in that it features shared living quarters with separate bedrooms. Families or individuals residing in this type of home do not share the property with other families. 

Most single-family homes have their own private parking areas (generally a driveway) rather than a shared lot. They also usually feature a private yard or garden on the property. Residents in single-family homes are responsible for the entire mortgage payment as well as monthly utility, water, sewage and trash bills. 

Multi-Family Homes

Contrary to a single-family home, a multi-family home is one that is shared among separate families. These types of homes can range from two to four-family homes, depending on the size of the house. They feature completely private quarters, which means the families residing in the house do not share things like:

  • Bathrooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Living rooms
  • Closets

Most multi-family homes have shared parking spaces and/or lots. Oftentimes, multi-family homes feature shared yard space or grilling areas. Tenants generally pay rent while living in these types of homes, but many homeowners choose to purchase multi-family homes and rent out the remaining units to help cover the cost of the mortgage. 

Source: https://www.sapling.com/7940680/differences-family-homes-multifamily-homes 

Apartments

An apartment is a type of living quarter that is a small section of a larger building. Most are located inside a shared building and generally feature a dormitory-style grid of hallways. Some apartment complexes consist of a dozen or more buildings, and each room inside those buildings are separate living quarters. 

Most individuals residing in apartments rent, but there are options for purchasing as well. Tenants may see reduced rates for utilities and electric because they are part of a shared line. While many people view apartments as small or cramped, there are many options for large, multi-bedroom apartments (some of which may even be multi-level). 

Condos

A condominium is similar to an apartment in the sense that it is part of a shared community. However, the key difference between apartments and condos is that the latter is generally offered for purchase rather than rent. Anyone who purchases a condo is buying a unit inside of a larger association, and therefore must abide by association rules and regulations. 

Condos are ideal for residents who prefer living in a community with various amenities. Most condo associations provide one or more of the following amenities at the property:

  • Pool
  • Gym
  • 24-hour security
  • In-unit washer and dryer hookups 
  • Maintenance and landscaping 

While apartments and condos have similarities in size and structure, condos have many more amenities and capitalize off HOA (homeowners association) fees. These fees help condo associations improve and add amenities, pay for maintenance and landscape and cover the cost of regular updates. HOA fees range between $150 and $500 a month, depending on the association and the area.

Source: https://www.apartments.com/blog/difference-between-renting-an-apartment-or-condo 

Townhomes

A townhome looks more like a single-family home than an apartment or a condo, yet is still a part of a larger community of other domiciles. Some townhomes are freestanding, which means they sit on their own plot of land separate from the other homes in the community. Some are connected to one another like condos but are not typically offered in multi-level options. Most sit side-by-side and are built extremely close together. 

It is important to note that some townhomes are sold as condominiums, which means that buyers do not own the entirety of the property. In cases such as this, buyers are only legal owners of the inside of the townhome as opposed to the entire house. The wording in the contract divulges this information, so it is best to consult with a lawyer or mortgage firm to verify the type of mortgage.

Source: https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/what-is-a-townhouse/ 

Mobile and Manufactured Homes

One of the least expensive types of homes available are mobile or manufactured homes. A mobile home, otherwise known as a trailer or doublewide, does not sit on a foundation. Companies mass-produce these dwellings and transport them to the area on a flatbed. Those looking to own a home without a high monthly mortgage payment are the best candidates for manufactured homes. 

Contrary to popular belief, manufactured homes are not always tiny. In fact, many companies produce homes with as many as four bedrooms. Some will even custom-create a mobile home to fit the needs of the buyer. 

Unique Housing Alternatives

Thanks to recent creative trends, many homeowners are looking to make homes out of non-traditional things. For example, some individuals looking to downsize are jumping on the tiny home bandwagon. A tiny home is one that is generally less than 400 square feet. It may feature a bi-level design, though the top floor is typically a loft-style bedroom. 

Other housing alternatives on the rise are storage unit homes. With a bit of creativity and structural rehab, shipping containers transform into modern residences. In fact, there are dozens of manufacturing companies popping up across the United States, promising to deliver the unit directly to your location. 

Like a mobile or manufactured home, a storage unit home does not have a foundation. It can sit on any property that the tenant owns. Some may be as small as a two-room unit, while others feature four to six containers stacked on top of one another. 

Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/what-is-a-manufactured-home/