Townhouses vs. Houses: Which Is Right for You?

Townhouses are a cheaper alternative to single-family houses, but you’ll sacrifice space and autonomy.
Written by Bee Davis
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Updated on Sep 27, 2022
Townhouses offer an affordable option for first-time buyers, amenities, and low upkeep. But if you’re looking for privacy, autonomy, and the potential to improve your investment over time, a house might be the way to go. 
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In this article, we’ll cover the differences between townhouses and houses, the pros and cons of each, and how to decide which is right for you.
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Townhouse vs. House: What are the differences?

A house is a single-family dwelling with private amenities and its own property. When you own a house, you own the yard, the garage (if there is one), and all your amenities on-site. You may share a fence with your neighbors, but the property is yours to maintain and customize
Townhouses, like houses, are privately owned. But the on-site amenities are usually shared with the larger community. Townhouses also typically share a wall or two with homes in a row or block. 
Townhomes are also likely a part of a Homeowners Association (or HOA), an organization that oversees the preservation of the community. While an HOA might not be responsible for the upkeep of individual properties, they generally charge fees for trash and snow removal. Some HOAs also enforce community guidelines to maintain the neighborhood. 

Pros and cons of owning a townhouse

When hunting for a new place to live, it’s important to weigh your options appropriately. Here are some of the pros and cons of owning a townhouse.


  • Lower maintenance: While your upkeep will vary depending on your community, your Homeowners Association may cover certain costs of amenities and maintenance, like landscaping, lawn care, and trash removal. You’ll pay an HOA fee, but for many homeowners, the convenience is well worth it.
  • Lower cost: According to national averages, townhomes are usually around half the cost of a single-family home. This is a huge upside for first-time homebuyers who are looking for a cheaper alternative to a house.
  • Community support: As part of an HOA, a townhouse may give you access to certain community amenities, like pools, playgrounds, and basketball courts, all maintained by the HOA. An HOA can also provide support if something breaks or needs repairs in your townhome, either fixing the issue themselves or recommending contractors they trust to do the job.


  • Regulations: With the support of an HOA, you’re also beholden to the rules and restrictions of community ownership. HOA regulations may restrict how much you can decorate and customize the exterior of your property. 
  • Lack of autonomous ownership: Along with exterior customizations, an HOA will restrict the amount you’re able to remodel and renovate, even down to painting and fixtures. If you’re looking to improve your property overtime with renovations, a townhouse might not be for you.
  • Lack of privacy: With a townhome, you’ll be sharing a wall or two with another property, which may not be your jam if you’re looking to throw crazy parties. While some people enjoy living in close proximity to others, some people find it too close for comfort. 

Pros and cons of owning a house

Here are some pros and cons of owning your own single-family property.


  • Autonomy: When you own your house, you can pretty much do whatever you want to the property as long as you follow zoning laws. If you’re looking to invest in and improve a property over time, a house is the way to go.
  • Space: Houses generally have more storage, more rooms, and a larger front and backyard.
  • Privacy: Privacy is also a big draw for a house. You won’t have to share amenities with a community or be beholden to the regulations of a Homeowners Association. 


  • High maintenance: Owning your own house means you’re responsible for all the upkeep. That means repairs, lawn care and landscaping, and utilities. 
  • Cost: Houses can be twice as expensive as townhomes, meaning your real estate investment will cost a lot more upfront. 
  • Location: Buying a house will also limit your location options. Houses in cities tend to be a lot more expensive than those in the suburbs, so if you’re a big city person, your home buying options may be limited by price, location, and the number of homes that suit your needs. 

Choose a townhouse if… 

When is a townhouse the right choice for you? It really depends on your needs, budget, and what stage of life you’re in. If you’re a first-time home buyer, a townhouse is an affordable option that will get you started in homeownership. 
You’ll get to try your hand at maintaining your own unit without the higher-demand upkeep of a larger house.
Retired people also tend to favor townhouses for accessibility and low maintenance upkeep. A smaller space means less work cleaning and staying organized. The community support is also a huge draw for older people because it provides access to community events and amenities. 

Choose a house if…

People with unique visions for customizing their living space (a dream kitchen, the perfect remodeled basement, etc.) should consider homeownership if they have the means. Owning your own home allows you the freedom to do what you want with the property without rules and regulations (aside from zoning laws, of course). 
Those looking to grow and raise families also tend to lean towards homeownership for the space, comfort, and flexibility. Not only can you expand or remodel your home to fit a growing gaggle, but your house can be your home base for hosting holidays, parties, and other family events. 

Finding affordable home insurance

Whether you’re living in a townhome or a house, you need quality
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