Townhouse vs. Condo vs. House: Which is Right for You

Buying a house is a big step, one that cannot and should not be taken lightly. There are many different types of accommodation choices and it can get overwhelming trying to figure out the right one. The choice depends on the needs of the homeowner and their lifestyle. Whether the decision is being made by a first-time buyer or someone looking to move, the decision-making process is never easy.

Between the three main types of residences, condos or condominiums, townhouses and houses, prospective buyers often find themselves being puzzled about what they mean and which one best suits their needs and lifestyle. Here’s our guide at Zumbly for choosing the kind of home for you.

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What is a Condo?

To begin with, condos or condominiums refer to a form of ownership rather than a physical structure. Condos are a part of a condo complex, similar to apartments. The difference is the community approach that comes with it along with private ownership. There are some stand-alone condo options available but the majority ones are in a condo complex.

Most complexes have shared amenities such as gyms, pools, cleaning and maintenance facilities for which a common board is responsible. The fees and maintenance are divided among the residents of the complex. Most condos are found in urban localities, where land is hard to come by and living costs are higher.

What is a Townhouse?

Townhouses or townhomes is the mix between a condo and a home. Townhouses are single-family homes that are part of a community where each townhouse describes the vertical physical structure of at least two floors. In most townhouse units, owners own the interior, exterior, roof, and lawn along with the driveway but have no ownership of any communal areas.

They are often row houses where in most cases, there is at least one shared wall. People who live in townhouses have to be a part of the Home Owner Association or HOA and follow their rules and pay the HOA fees which are partially responsible for maintenance and upkeep of certain areas.

What is a House?

A house of a single-family home is the most independent option between these three types of dwellings. A house sits on its own land with no shared walls. Free-standing buildings that don’t come in contact with each other are classified as single-family homes. Because of the independent nature of a single-family house, owners are responsible for all the upkeep and repairs and are free to make any modifications that they want without having to seek permission from any committee.

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Difference Between a Townhouse a House and a Condo

There are many distinguishing factors when it comes to these three types of dwellings. From ownership, maintenance to community and even the area they’re in, all three residencies are different from one another and have varying levels of pros and cons.

Condo vs Townhouse

The main difference between condos and townhouses is ownership. In a condo, the ownership is limited to the interior of a unit, while in a townhouse it can extend to the exterior as well.

Pros of Condos and Townhouses

  • Community

Condos and townhouses have a similar community structure, where there are shared or common amenities which provide an opportunity to socialize and interact with other members.

  • Maintenance

Because of the fees associated with condos and townhouses, there are benefits when it comes to maintenance and upkeep. The condo committee and HOA for townhouses are responsible for repairs and maintenance.

Cons of Condos and Townhouses

  • Fees

Owners of condo units pay higher fees than those residing in townhouses. This is because there are more amenities and facilities that come with living in a condo unit. For both condos and townhouses, the fees, more often than not don’t provide the expected level of maintenance and service.

  • Reliability

Those residing in condos and townhouses have to be reliant on the HOA or the committee to carry out any repairs and have to trust their capabilities and organizational skills. Any change or modification has to be approved by these committees and cannot be done independently.

Townhouse VS House

Both the townhouse and house give ownership to its residents of their individual units. The main differentiating factor is the presence of shared walls in townhouses and the standalone feature of a single-family home.

  • Homeowners Association or HOA

Homeowners Association or HOA is mandatory for those living in a townhouse, while for single-family homes, it depends on whether or not the neighborhood has an HOA.

  • Freedom and Flexibility

Those living in a single-family home are free to change, repair or modify their homes as they see fit. With the absence of an HOA, they don’t need to abide by a common set of rules of that particular neighborhood.

  • Fees and Repairs

Any repairs and maintainence required in a townhouse are covered by the HOA fees, which is often paid on a monthly basis. When it comes to single-family homes, the owners are responsible for all structural repairs and expenses that come with any damage.

  • Community

Townhouses emphasize the importance of community, any decision is made by keeping the benefit of the entire community in mind. Right from allowing a certain pet breed to even the age of residents, all these are dictated by the association.

It goes without saying that all these restrictions are absent in single-family homes and homeowners are free to do as they please.


In the end, it comes down to the following factors while deciding between a condo, a home or a townhouse:

  • Affordability
  • Lifestyle requirements
  • Importance of community
  • Comfortability with maintenance payments
  • Area of residence

All these factors combined with the differentiating characteristics of condos, townhouses, and homes should be considered before deciding, because they all play an important role when it comes to a long-term accommodation situation and differs from person to person.

A single-family home in a non-HOA neighborhood is more suitable for those looking for freedom from fees and require a large space, while a condo is best suited for those who want to live in an urban environment and want access to multiple amenities without having the burden of repairs and upkeep. Check out Zumbly to find your next home.

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