Single-Family Home vs. Townhouse or Condo

When you’re looking for your next home, the single-family home vs. townhouse or condo debate may come up. Here are a few things to think about as you go through your options.

Single Family Home vs. Condo- Location

One of the first and most important things to think about is where you want to live. Are you looking for a home in the suburbs that lets you get more out of your hard-earned money, but you need to drive into the city? Or do you want something more urban, closer to downtown?

This matters, because in general you’ll find more townhouses and condos in urban areas and single-family homes in rural and suburban areas. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t find townhomes in the suburbs or detached homes in the city. But the overall environment is different. For example, single-family homes in the city either tend to be very expensive or in the bad parts of town. Likewise, the downside of having a townhome in the suburbs is you still (probably) need to drive anywhere you need to go. 

Single Family Home vs. Townhouse – HOA Fees

Another thing to consider is how much you’re willing to spend on Homeowners Association (HOA) fees. Depending on where you live, this can range from $0 per year to thousands of dollars. 

For example, a single-family home may be in a neighborhood that doesn’t have an HOA at all. That has benefits because you can basically do whatever you want with the house. But your neighbors can too, and if they don’t maintain their property it can drag down your property value. 

The flip side is townhomes and condos almost always have some kind of HOA fee. This usually pays for amenities including

  • Parking deck
  • Pool
  • Movie room
  • Coffee machine
  • Gym
  • Landscaping maintenance
  • Etc.

Obviously not every complex has these, but you get the idea. While it is nice that you don’t need to cut the grass yourself or maintain the swimming pool, you’re still paying for someone to do that for you. 

Some people don’t mind the high fees, because it gives them the ability to live in a nice community without having to worry about mowing the grass or buying a gym membership. But other people would prefer to keep that money themselves. It’s all up to you. 

Townhouse vs. Single Family Home – Space

How much space do you want? Do you have a growing family where at least 1 parent works from home and needs office space? Or are you okay with a small space, as you prefer to live a simple lifestyle without a lot of “stuff.”? 

Townhouses and condos will pretty much always have less space than a detached single-family home. This often makes them great starter homes for young families, or empty nesters who are downsizing. Single people or someone with a few roommates may also like it since it gives them what they need, but isn’t too much space. 

Obviously some big families still live in townhomes or condos, and some single people love having a whole house to themselves. But keep in mind the amount of space you want as you evaluate your options.