Townhouse vs. House: How to Choose Your Next Home


Few decisions you’ll make will be as impactful as choosing your home. Whether it is for a short time or your forever home, you are choosing the place you will live for some time as well as making a huge financial commitment. With this process comes a lot of decisions, including the type of home you want- a condo, a mobile home, a townhouse, or a single-family home. There is no “best” option, but one may work best for you and your family. As you browse homes for sale in Winter Haven, FL, you can use some of the information below to determine if houses or townhouses are right for you.

Key Differences

Owning a townhouse is similar in many ways to owning any other home- you will have a piece of land and a structure to call your own. However, you will also share common areas with your neighbors who own townhouses in the same development. That development is usually under the leadership of a Homeowners Association, or HOA, which maintains those areas and sets rules in exchange for a monthly fee. In a single-family home, there is no fee and no one setting these rules, but you are responsible for all maintenance of the land you own.

Some other key differences may include the following.


Townhouses are usually multi-level homes that are attached by at least one wall, forming a row of houses. Most units will share multiple walls, though end units will only share one. The units usually look very similar to one another, though some are stylized to be more disparate, but even those will have a similar structure.


As a general rule, townhouses tend to be smaller than regular houses when it comes to the total area owned. The interior may or may not be larger in regular homes, but taking into account exterior spaces, land, and expansion possibilities, they will usually be larger.


Townhouses are usually part of a complex or development that offers amenities to its residents. These may include pools, gyms, basketball or tennis courts, and other common areas that all residents have access to as a part of their ownership. In contrast, houses do not have these common areas, and any amenities will either need to be added and maintained by the owner or sought out in the community.


When you own a house, all maintenance is your responsibility, from a damaged roof to weeding the lawn. With a townhouse, the interior will always be yours to maintain, and some exterior items will fall to you as well. However, the homeowners association generally has responsibility for some exterior maintenance and may even cover things like roof damage and structural issues.


Townhouses tend to be more affordable than single-family homes when it comes to the price and size of each home, though this, of course, depends on the property. However, it is important to take into account that townhouses will usually include a monthly HOA fee, which can range from small amounts of money to thousands of dollars. When you are determining how much you can afford for a mortgage, take into consideration this potential additional fee.


While a homeowners association has many benefits, they also usually set rules regarding each home in the community that some can find difficult. For example, an HOA may dictate what color exterior doors can be painted and what kind of holiday décor can be put up outside your home. There are rarely such rules in a freestanding home. You should also consider that townhouses share at least one wall with another home, so you may need to be careful when entertaining to avoid disturbing others or expect to hear some of your neighbor’s movements from time to time.

Townhouses: Pros and Cons

townhouseMany people choose townhouses because they offer relief from the maintenance associated with homeownership, especially when it comes to costly amenities and exterior damage. The lack of yards means there is less landscaping to take care of, and many other tasks may be covered under your HOA.

Townhouses can allow you to own a home without all the same responsibilities a single-family home entails while also giving you access to amenities you may not otherwise be able to afford. With a pool and other recreational areas in your complex, you can have easier access than that of a local gym or elsewhere. Some people also like the community that this creates, as you will likely see the same neighbors throughout the complex and form bonds in this way.

For some, the smaller area of a townhome could be a benefit as well. Many retirees are drawn to these homes as they downsize, especially in regards to outdoor space. However, if you are looking for a large area, this could be a downside for a townhome.

One of the primary complaints people share about townhouses is the HOA rules, which can be strict in some cases. The required upkeep can help your home retain its value, but many people prefer the autonomy of their own home and being able to make their own design decisions. These rules, coupled with HOA fees that can be exorbitant, mean some people are unhappy with the idea of an HOA and avoid townhomes for this reason.

Privacy is also a consideration- if you don’t want the community of a townhome or don’t like sharing a wall with neighbors, these structures may not fit your needs as well as a single-family home.

Single-Family Homes: Pros and Cons 

single-family-homeOwning a home that is not a townhouse allows you the freedom to do nearly anything you’d like. You may need permits or to adhere to basic safety regulations, but no one will tell you how or if you can decorate and renovate your home. This extends to the exterior of the home, which you have complete control over. Since homes are usually larger and include lawns, yards, and other exterior space, this is more area that can be totally in your control.

In addition to offering more space, these larger homes also offer more privacy, with a larger distance between you and even close neighbors. You can also choose to install a fence for even more privacy, and you won’t have to worry about sharing walls.

The primary disadvantage to a house is that all maintenance will fall on you, with no HOA to absorb any of the repairs. Upkeep can be costly and time-consuming, and you will need to determine your priorities without relying on anyone else. While you don’t have an HOA fee to worry about, you are often paying more for a mortgage and then maintenance in addition to that.

Deciding Between a House and a Townhouse

Ultimately, the decision as to whether a house or townhouse is right for you will be personal. You may even look at both and decide based on other factors, like the home’s interior or location. But there are a few questions you can ask yourself that may help.

How long do I plan to stay in the home? 

Either form of a home can be your forever home, but if you are planning to move in a few years, this may impact your decision. Townhouses hold value well, and you can avoid sinking a lot of your funds into home maintenance. You may also be less worried about space for a growing family if you plan to move out quickly, making a townhouse a good option. Depending on your stage of life, understanding how long you plan to stay can help you determine what is best for you.

How important is my privacy and autonomy? 

While some people feel very restricted by HOA rules, others don’t plan to make any exterior changes or feel the need to personalize a home. If you aren’t concerned about following these rules and guidelines, you may not be discouraged by the presence of an HOA.

Similarly, if you are comfortable with having neighbors in close quarters and don’t mind a bit of shared noise, a townhouse could be a better fit for you. However, if you value your space and would prefer not to hear anyone else, you may consider a standalone home.

Is maintenance worth the HOA fee? 

You can crunch the numbers to determine how much you may spend on a home warranty and upkeep, then compare that to the HOA fee for a scientific approach to this question. But you may also decide that peace of mind is priceless, and you are willing to pay a fee in order to not worry about certain repairs. Someone handier may not worry about this in a home, while someone who is physically limited or very busy may be willing to pay an HOA fee in exchange for that freedom.

This choice ultimately comes down to what about homeownership appeals to you and what is most important moving forward. Both houses and townhouses are available to fit your needs without compromising any of these important elements.

Posted by Florida Realty Marketplace on
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