Apartment vs. House: Which One Should You Rent?

Updated: Apr. 08, 2024

Consider cost, privacy, amenities and lifestyle needs when you're trying to decide between renting an apartment or a house.

A house or apartment should provide a safe, secure and habitable space for you and your family or housemates to live in. But each type of home offers different benefits and drawbacks, depending on your way of life.

If you’re deciding between renting an apartment vs. a house, consider the following pros, cons and similarities so you can make the choice that works best for you.

Pros and Cons of Renting a House

Houses typically give you more of everything — space, flexibility and privacy. But that can come with a higher cost and more responsibilities. Here are some of the top things to consider when deciding if a house is the best rental option for you.

Benefits of renting a house

  • Houses often have larger rooms and more of them, giving family members or housemates greater privacy. It also allows conflicting activities to happen at the same time, like one person watching TV while another takes a nap.
  • Most houses have backyards, which can be great for gardening, keeping a dog or cat (if the landlord allows pets) or hosting barbecues.
  • Private driveways and garages are also common, offering ample space for cars, bicycles and anything you need securely locked up.
  • Many houses have sheds or basements that can be used as workshops, workout rooms, art studios or hobby spaces.
  • Houses, with more windows, usually let in more natural light and cooling breezes than apartments.

Drawbacks of renting a house

  • House rental prices are typically higher than apartments in the same location, but not always. You might get lucky if you search around.
  • Utility costs are typically higher than apartments, especially for heating and cooling.
  • Though the landlord is responsible for maintenance, some things will be up to you, like snow clearing, taking out the trash and keeping the yard tidy.
  • A house will likely need repairs more often, which means you may have workers on site more than you’d like.
  • Rental houses are often owned by individuals instead of management companies. That could mean less formal communication and less chance of solving problems in a timely fashion.

Pros and Cons of Renting an Apartment

Apartments, on the other hand, often come with less of many things — living expenses, chores and space. Here are several things to consider when deciding if an apartment is right for you.

Benefits of renting an apartment

  • Stores, restaurants and coffee shops are often close by because apartments tend to be built in dense, commercially zoned neighborhoods.
  • Many apartments feature shared amenities like pools, fitness centers and gathering spaces.
  • Socializing with neighbors is convenient because they live on the same property, often in the same building.
  • Responsibilities for landscaping, trash pickup and snow removal are taken care of by building maintenance pros.
  • Fewer square feet means less time spent on cleaning and upkeep. Find out if you’re allowed to paint a rented apartment.

Drawbacks of renting an apartment

  • Apartments almost always offer less privacy, particularly because the front doors and windows usually face shared spaces.
  • Most apartments have no bonus rooms for a home office, laundry room, basement or den.
  • If parking is available, you’ll probably pay extra each month for an assigned spot. Limited parking can be tough when guests come over.
  • You’ll share walls with noisy neighbors.
  • Apartments typically have little storage space, although onsite storage rooms, closets or cages are usually available for an additional monthly fee.
  • Activities that create excessive noise, messes or hazards are typically prohibited, so don’t expect to do things like woodworking or car repair.
  • Many apartment buildings feature shared laundry rooms instead of a washer and dryer in each apartment.
  • A balcony or small patio would likely be your only private outdoor space, if you have any at all.

Other Factors To Consider

Sometimes the important differences have nothing to do with the type of housing you’re looking at.

Take renter’s insurance. According to Ryan Barone, CEO and founder of RentRedi, “The cost of renter’s insurance tends to depend less on whether you’re living in a house or an apartment, and more on the type of coverage you sign up for.” He says security deposits are typically equivalent to a month’s rent, regardless of whether it’s a home or apartment.

Availability can vary widely by housing type and neighborhood, but Barone mentioned a common trend. “In urban areas, there tends to be more availability of apartments due to the way the cities are laid out,” he says. Conversely, you may have an easier time finding houses to rent in suburban or rural communities.

Laura Adams, a senior real estate analyst at Aceable, pointed out another factor. “Short-term rentals, such as Airbnb and Vrbo, can reduce the number of homes for rent, especially in hot housing markets like Austin, San Francisco and Miami,” she says. In some communities, this merely increases rent prices. But in others, it may make it difficult to find places to rent at all.

Ultimately, because each apartment, rental house and neighborhood is unique, do your homework and compare the actual units you’re interested in to determine what’s best for you. But the following rules apply in most situations:

Rent a House If…

  • You have a big family or want to live with several roommates.
  • Your hobbies or recreational activities take up lots of space.
  • Spending time outdoors at home is important to you.
  • You like to host big social gatherings.
  • You have several vehicles or lots of stuff to store.
  • Privacy is one of your top priorities.

Rent an Apartment If…

  • Having lower living expenses is your top priority.
  • You like to be around a lot of people.
  • Proximity to amenities is important to you.
  • You want a low-maintenance place to live.
  • You don’t have any big, messy hobbies.
  • You prefer hustle and bustle over peace and quiet.