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Which Rental is for You? An Apartment or House?

Updated on November 17, 2015
Brian Fischer profile image

Brian is a student-athlete at his university in Indiana majoring in marketing and finance. Brian is also the owner of Fischer Web Solutions.

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Introduction

Odds are you’re probably a twenty-something year old, have recently been engaged, or both! As the millennial generation begins to age, there is an increasing demand for rental properties as the people in this generation move through college and the rest of their lives. Most people who rent properties are young and have moved out of the nest not too long ago. Unfortunately not every single one of them knows about renting, or what type of rental is best for them. This quick guide will give you an idea of the advantages and disadvantages of two of the most common housing types.

Apartments

You’ll be able to find apartments in every city, and for good reason too. They’re fairly affordable, offer just enough living space, and are usually located within an urban area. However, don’t be fooled, while there are good apartments out there, for every good one there are 5 more bad ones.

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Who are apartments good for?

  • The majority of apartments will suit the taste of most people and get the job done. People looking for living space close to night life will find many apartment complexes not too far away. Additionally if you plan on living alone or with only one other person, an apartment will typically offer you the flexibility of either. Be warned though, without a roommate you will most likely be paying more per month than if you were sharing a room.
  • An apartment is also a great option for those who will be living in an area for a short time. Maybe you plan on moving somewhere better within the next year or two, an apartment will put a roof over your head while limiting the amount of furniture and other items you might have to move.
  • Some people hate doing yardwork while others find it enjoyable. With an apartment you’ll never have to worry about starting the lawn mower up or trimming the bushes again.
  • Have a pet? Some apartments do allow pets, and this may be one of your only options especially if you can’t find a roommate or other type of housing that will allow your Burmese Python.

Who are apartments not good for?

  • If you’re not a fan of having a roommate or can’t tolerate sharing walls with neighbors, then avoid an apartment if possible. A lot of luck is involved with who ends up being your neighbor, as it’s really hit or miss. Some neighbors may seem like they’re never there, while others could be blasting music at 11:00 pm every night.
  • If wireless internet is provided by the complex, don’t expect it to be that good. With every resident doing anything from browsing the internet to watching Netflix, the entire bandwidth gets eaten up quickly.
  • Everyone has a certain tolerance of frustration with parking. I have seen plenty of apartment complexes with horrendous parking, which is sometimes enough to scare people away. You’ll be hating yourself when you have to walk half a mile in the rain with arms full of groceries.

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Pro Tips

  • Always check out the apartment complex BEFORE signing any papers.
  • Do some research. A quick Google search may pull up some hidden information that you need to know.
  • Ask current residents about it. Take a walk around one day and knock on a door or two and get some feedback. Who knows, you might meet a future neighbor!
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Property managers might be desperate to get new tenants in. Ask to see if you can get the first month’s rent free, or a lower monthly rate. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

Houses

Probably the second most common type of housing today, a house is a great way to make friends with neighbors and have enough space to have guests over. Over the course of several years I have found living in a house has been the most enjoyable since it’s given me the privacy and tranquility I like.

Who are houses good for?

  • People who find themselves very independent, but social, will enjoy living in a house the most. This being said, you almost have to be a people person as you’ll be living with at least one other person, or maybe even more! Statistically speaking there aren’t too many two-bedroom houses available so you’ll either have to shell out a significant amount or money every month of find a roomie!
  • Do you enjoy having that ‘at-home’ feeling, where it feels like this is your space, and not just a rental? I know I do and despite it being a rental house, it still gives you more a ‘home’ feeling than an apartment or other living space can.
  • Having a yard is an excellent feature too! I don’t mind doing yard work, and during the summer time it’s perfect for having friends over or cooking out. A yard doesn’t have to just be seen as a task, but should be seen as an extended part of your living space. You can have BBQ’s, bonfires, and other summer time activities in it!
  • With a house you’ll virtually never have to worry about parking. Depending on the house’s setup you’ll either have the driveway, or be able to park along the street. Regardless, it’ll almost always be better than fighting for a spot in an apartment complex.
  • If you’re someone who is loud or has loud roommates, a house may be perfect! You can be nearly as loud as you want and not have to worry about the neighbors complaining when you’re living in a house. Be reasonable with this one though, as your neighbors two houses down shouldn’t be able to name the song and artist at 2:00 AM.

Who are houses not good for?

  • If you prefer to live on your own, or have a preference for a single bedroom, an apartment may be the better way to go. It’s usually difficult to find a house with less than two-bedrooms that is worth living in.
  • Typically if you plan on living there for at least two years, a house is the way to go. If you’re living there for less than two years, it’s a bit of a hassle for both you and the landlord. For you, moving everything you have brought plus everything you’ve purchased over the course of year is not easy to transport. What makes matters worse is if you’re moving to a smaller living area and you’re not able to fit everything.
  • Hate yard work? Be sure to check with your landlord to see if they take care of the lawn maintenance or that if that is something that is your responsibility.
  • Unpredictable utilities. It sounds odd, but you’d be surprised how much the bills can vary during the seasons. Yes a large part of this is your area’s climate, however your roommates may have different preferences when it comes to the heating/cooling and their energy conservation habits.
  • If you can’t stand a little mess and are OCD when it comes to cleanliness, you may be better off living alone. You’ll find out quickly, regardless of your roommates, messes will be made and messes will be left. A lot of this comes down to picking good roommates and understanding differences, but in a larger living area there are more opportunities for messes to occur.

Pro Tips

  • Just like an apartment, do your due diligence. Check out the house beforehand, meet and ask the neighbors about the area, and research the property management company.
  • Online you should be able to find information about the average utility costs over the course of a year or two. These are typically public record and/or are provided by the energy company. This will give you an idea of the utility costs from month to month.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate. If you plan on staying there for two or more years, ask if you can get a lower rate for a longer contract.
  • If you go to view a house, take pictures! It’ll make it easier to compare later. Pictures online are meant to make the property look better than it may actually be!

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