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If you’re looking at buying a home, chances are you’ve considered whether a house or apartment is the better option. While the answer is clear cut for some people, the jury is still out for others. And understandably so. As our lifestyles grow increasingly diverse, it’s no surprise that more people are investigating the pros and cons of each option to help make an informed decision. So, without any further ado, here’s what you need to know if the decision of buying a house or unit has got you completely stumped.
The pros and cons of living in a house
Space: One of the biggest benefits of living in a house is undoubtedly having more room to move. If you have the 2.5 kids and white picket fence dream, this is probably a better option for you.
Outdoor space: So many childhood memories are made in the backyards of suburbia, which is why many families choose buying a home over an apartment. There is also the added bonus of landscaping exactly the way you want, or having a pool or outdoor entertainment area. The possibilities are limitless and the freedom is yours.
Flexibility: Like to renovate? Good news if you live in a house! As long as you abide by council and building regulations or property covenants, you can pretty much carry out whatever upgrades or renovations you like.
Privacy: Is there anything worse than being able to hear your neighbour’s, err, ‘recreational activities’ directly through your wall? Sometimes people can live just a little too close for comfort, which is another reason why living in a house is so appealing. You’re generally not living in such close proximity to your neighbours, which also means you are free to enjoy life without having to worry if you are creating a disturbance of your own.
Maintenance: Lawns, gutters, landscaping, repairs, window cleaning… these all require work at some point. And as the homeowner, that responsibility falls upon your shoulders. For some it can be a labour of love, but for most of us, we’d really just rather someone else take care of those chores.
Higher costs: All that space in your home is great, but guess what? More space generally means bigger bills, particularly for gas and electricity.
The pros and cons of living in an apartment
More affordable: In most cases, apartments are generally cheaper to buy than houses. According to figures from Domain Group, when Sydney’s median house price passed the $1 million mark in June 2015, the median apartment price was $656,078. If financial constraints are holding you back from buying a home, there are plenty of quality, affordable apartments to choose from.
Less maintenance: Apartment living generally means lower maintenance. No lawns to mow, trees to prune, or gardens to tend to. A lot of the maintenance tasks can be taken care of by management, meaning you have more time to focus on the things you enjoy.
Low cost: Less maintenance also means lower costs. This also results from the fact that apartments have a smaller living space, therefore reducing heating and cooling costs.
Location: Apartments are generally closer to public facilities, such as schools, restaurants, transport services and shopping centres, and perhaps even your job. Living closer to a central hub can reduce travel times and costs, and provide all the convenience of urban living without the high-ticket price tag of a house in the same area.
Extra facilities: Some apartments have their own pool, gym, tennis courts, playground, or even a shared garden. Depending on your lifestyle, these extras could save you cash and offer facilities you could never afford in a house.
Security: Apartment crime is significantly reduced for the simple fact that entry to the building generally requires photo ID, a secret handshake and DNA sample… or something along those lines. And you’ll never have to worry about those pesky, unsolicited doorknockers ever again!
Owners’ corporation by-laws: Living in an apartment means abiding by the rules imposed by the owners’ corporation, such as not hanging washing over the balcony or not having pets in the property. If you want to renovate or upgrade your apartment, you may need to seek approval first.
Fees: You’ll also need to pay a fee to the owners’ corporation to cover shared maintenance costs. The initial property purchase may be cheaper, but make sure you have all the information about ongoing fees if you are considering this option.
Less space: Have kids, pets, or looking at starting a family in the future? Sadly, apartments just don’t offer as much living space as houses.
Less privacy: Just remember, if you can see or hear your neighbours, there’s a good chance they can see or hear you, too.
When buying a home, whether it be a house or unit, you should consider your needs and plan ahead. Take into account your lifestyle, finances, family needs, and future plans that may require you to upgrade or downgrade your home. Once you determine your needs for both now and into the future, the decision of whether a house or apartment is right for you should be an easy one.