Pros & cons of living in an apartment vs house

The debate over whether to live in a house or an apartment is nothing new. Apartment living has long been an attractive option for those who either can’t afford to – or just don’t want to – live in a full-scale house.

Comparing houses with apartments
Apartments can have a wide range of benefits and, in the midst of an economy that’s hard on those looking to buy a new home, they’re a more viable option for people with smaller incomes. And, ignoring the “home” in First Home Buyers, apartments are increasingly popular with younger buyers wanting to enter the market.

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Case Study 1:

First home buyers nz“I own and live in an apartment…I lived there by myself for 5 years however I have now lived there with my boyfriend and our dog for 3 years… It is cheaper to purchase than a house and the costs with building maintenance are shared between all owners (body corporate).

“You can also build up a great community atmosphere with your neighbours. The cons are the noise due to having neighbours so close and possible neighbour issues, and the amount of time it takes to get things done, as all requests have to go through body corporate and be approved depending on the request.  There is also a no pet policy in a lot of the older buildings, whereas newer buildings usually allow them (in some cases they have to be small enough to carry).

Depending on the building, there are also the body corporate costs, while mine is older – and cheaper –since it doesn’t have a pool/gym/lifts etc… Personally, I think that apartments are a great way to get onto the property ladder (especially in a place like Auckland where housing is so expensive and more apartments are being built in the suburbs).”


A few benefits of apartments compared with homes include:

  • Low maintenance

With nearly all apartments, maintenance is covered and taken care of by the landlord or the body corporate, making one less major worry for you when that leaky pipe finally splits.

  • Amenities

living in an apartment complex usually brings access to a large array of amenities that you might not get after buying a home. This potentially includes things like a common room, swimming pool, communal barbeques, a gym, covered parking, and a security system.

  • Perfect for living alone

For those who plan on living alone for the foreseeable future, the smaller space and simplicity of an apartment is ideal for those who want less space and smaller bills.

  • Bills and fees

Apartment living usually costs you less in terms of things such as heating, cooling, and other utilities such as water and electricity. This can help with budgeting.

Disadvantages of apartment vs house include:

  • Smaller living space

The first and foremost disadvantage of apartments is that they’re generally smaller than the average house. While this means you’ve got less space to clean, that’s only a small consolation for less living space. You also may not have access to a clothes line.

  • Privacy and noise

Due to the crowded nature of apartment buildings, the privacy afforded by apartment living is less than that of living in a house. You might overhear someone speaking (singing/shouting…) in the apartment next to yours, or they might hear you. This means that suffering from excessive noise from other tenants is entirely possible.

  • Personalisation

Because most apartments are owned or overseen by a landlord or body corporate, the extent to which you can decorate and personalise your apartment is potentially limited. Some common restrictions include being able to repaint, replace or change fittings, and the installation of air conditioning if the apartment doesn’t already have it. On the other hand, if you own a home, you can redecorate to your heart’s content!

  • Parking

Parking spaces can be at a premium in an apartment block, particularly if you don’t have allocated parking.

Case Study 2

First Home buyers - apartments


“In the apartment I live in right now, we struggle with having smokers in the other apartments. As they aren’t allowed under their leases to smoke inside their apartments, they blow their smoke off their balconies – straight into our open windows. Regardless of whether you live in an apartment or a house, you may always have the possibility of noisy neighbours to live with. But in an apartment, those neighbours share a wall with you.

But when I lived in a house that I cleaned by myself, I was exhausted from trying to keep it clean to my standards while studying full-time and working part-time and volunteering on the side. Now that I’m working full-time, I’ve just accepted that even in a small apartment, my standards have to slip to be realistic about the time I have on my hands and how clean it can be.”

So, while apartment living is perfectly suited to some, there are some notable disadvantages you might want to take into consideration in the apartment vs house decision process.

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