Townhouse vs House: Everything You Need to Know

Townhouse vs House: Everything You Need to Know

Justo Team | April 12, 2022

There are many things you have to keep in mind when looking for the perfect family home, starting with the type of property. A lot of the time, the decision comes down to townhomes vs. houses — so you need to know the advantages of each one to make the best choice for your family.

Townhouses and homes share some similarities, but you need to understand the distinct elements in order to make the best choice.

Modern townhouse design

In this article, we’ll share the townhouse definition and explain the difference between this type of property and a traditional house.

We’ll also go over a few tips to help you choose the best option for your family.

What Is a Townhouse?

What is a townhouse?

In simple terms, it’s a type of single-family home that often features multiple floors and is part of a row of at least three houses of a similar style.

Townhouses are usually smaller, in terms of square footage, and narrower than traditional houses, which is the reason why they have at least one additional floor on top. There’s no set number of floors, but most townhouses tend to be two or three stories tall.

It’s important to understand that townhouses are sometimes located in communities that have their own rules and regulations. Many communities also have a homeowners association or HOA, which is in charge of developing and implementing the regulations that property owners have to follow.

That being said, older townhouses may be integrated into cities and have either less restrictive HOAs or no associations at all, which means less maintenance or no fees altogether.

Townhouses may also feature a small patio, a front yard, and/or a backyard. But, some townhouse communities also include access to common areas with shared amenities.

For example, a townhouse community can have a tennis court, pool, recreational area, and other communal spaces. These spaces require both maintenance and supervision, all of which are covered in the HOA fee.

HOA expenses are yearly or monthly fees that townhouse owners have to cover. This gives the HOA the resources it needs to perform exterior upkeep, ensure that every communal living space is safe, and develop new common areas.

What Is a House?

Simply put, houses or single-family homes are residential buildings that can vary in shape, size, and style.

When compared to a townhome, a single-family house usually features more space indoors and on the exterior due to the lack of a common area. The reason for this is that a single-family house can include front and back yards, but it won’t share any common spaces within its immediate community.

While it’s true that many houses don’t have to follow local HOA regulations, this type of property can still come with some limitations. Houses that are located within gated or private communities may have to follow similar strict requirements, or sometimes worse, to those of townhouses.

If you buy a house listed as a heritage building, you can run into a similar problem. In these cases, homeowners may not be able to remodel the outside of their houses or use the materials they want.

First-time homebuyers usually like the idea of getting a house because they can choose from a wide range of architectural styles. Not only this, but owners may also be able to perform repairs and improvements without having to worry about community regulations.

A detached house

House owners don’t usually have to abide by any rules or cover any HOA fees, but all homes require maintenance. Now, homeowners don’t have control over the urban areas surrounding their properties. But, the increased square footage both indoors and outdoors makes houses feel bigger, even without the tennis courts or other amenities.

Difference Between Townhouse vs House?

Now that we understand the definitions of both, let’s go over the difference between a townhouse and a house. 

While they share some similarities, townhouses and houses have different building types, room dimensions, amenities, maintenance requirements, costs, and independence. Let’s explore these exact differences.

Building Style and Type

Unlike apartment buildings, townhouses are usually built in a row of similar single-family structures, all with a similar number of floors. Townhouse units can have different colors, but their overall structure and appearance are very similar.

As we mentioned earlier, houses can vary in shape, size, and layout. Free-standing houses, for example, are completely detached and tend to have a unique appearance. It’s also common to find semi-detached homes, which are properties that share only one wall with an adjacent neighbor.

Size and Room Dimensions

Townhouses and houses can both vary tremendously in size. You can find townhouses that contain four or more bedrooms, in addition to all the shared spaces within the house.

The difference is that houses usually have a lot more space both indoors and outdoors. Remember, townhouses could have access to communal areas, but this type of property usually has a small front or backyard, if any.

Houses can usually be expanded and remodeled with more ease than townhouses, which makes them a better type of investment property.

Amenities and Features

When we refer to amenities and features, we don’t mean basic services like trash removal or type of internet coverage.

In this context, amenities consist of all the additional features that homeowners have access to based on their property type. For instance, some townhouse developments provide shared amenities like sports facilities, a pool area, a fitness center, snow removal during winter, and access to additional features.

In most cases, houses can have as many amenities as the size of the property and budget of the owner allow. But, also note that all maintenance and future costs from these amenities also have to be covered by the homeowner.


A townhouse owner may have land ownership over the property immediately outside of his or her home. In case the landowner owns the surrounding property, its maintenance will be his or her responsibility.

If the area around your townhouse is part of the community’s shared areas, the townhouse development is responsible for its maintenance.

Maintenance of townhouses

House maintenance, on the other hand, falls completely on the shoulders of the homeowner. Owners are responsible for both the structure and exterior maintenance of their homes, even if they are limited in other capacities.


One of the biggest factors you have to weigh when buying townhouses vs houses is the short and long-term costs of each type of property. 

According to our observations, the upfront cost of a townhouse is usually lower than the upfront cost of a house of similar size. However, like condo owners, every townhouse owner may have to pay HOA fees on a monthly basis. 

While the HOA fees contribute to things like the swimming pool and outdoor space maintenance, this doesn’t necessarily increase the property resale value in the open real estate market.


Townhouses located in strict communities have to follow the HOA regulations, which limits what owners can do. Not only this, but shared walls may also result in more noise. 

Houses, on the other hand, are usually completely under the owner’s control. If you own a free-standing house outside of a private or gated community and obtain all necessary permits in advance, you should also be able to make any changes and improvements to your indoor and outdoor space.

Which One Is Best For You? Townhouse or House

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself: 

Should I buy a townhouse or house?

Every family is different, so there is no exact answer to this question. You need to learn about your family’s requirements, keep your personal finances in mind, and compare townhouse vs. house equally.

Modern house design

If you notice that one type of property is consistently catching your eye, it means that you’ve answered this question by yourself.

Townhouse Owners Usually…

It’s worth noting that property owners who are more suited to townhouses tend to:

  • Be first-time buyers
  • Prefer low-maintenance homes
  • Like the idea of having amenities without having to maintain them

House Owners Usually…

Households that thrive in houses usually prefer to:

  • Choose properties based on quality, not price
  • Think about all properties as investments
  • Value privacy and prefer to have their own amenities

Final Thoughts

Townhouses and homes are both amazing options that cater to families with different needs. Make sure to consider your family’s requirements, budget, and long-term plans in order to make the best choice. If you need help finding the best house or townhome, get in touch with us today.

By Justo Team

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