House vs Townhouse — Which is Better?

Thinking about buying but wondering if you should opt for a house or townhouse?

Check out our pros and cons to help you make the right decision for you.

Buying a property is all about making choices, and one of the first you will face is what type of property you’re going to buy. 

Standalone homes are certainly among the most popular, but before you drop a decent chunk of change into the property market, consider your options. Townhouses are becoming increasingly popular as owner occupiers and investors look for properties that are more practical and tailored to those that don’t necessarily need all the work and expense that come with buying a house. 

With all of this considered, it begs the question: are townhouses better than houses? Read on for a full rundown of house vs townhouse — which is better?

Houses

The age old Aussie dream, a standalone house is often the first thing buyers picture in their minds when considering their buying options. Involving the purchase of the land on a single title, it offers the most flexibility and privacy. When you own a home, you can pretty well do what you want when you want, with minimal need for seeking anyone’s approval. 

The good ol’ house also comes with a whole sweep of other pros that most buyers find appealing:

  • Space: Not only do standalone houses tend to have larger floorplans, but they’re set on defined allotments that provide more space outside as well. 
  • Outdoor entertaining: Many homes — modern ones especially — come with generous outdoor entertaining areas that allow you to enjoy all the benefits of your increased outdoor space.
  • Finance options: Most lenders prefer to provide loans on houses. This means you’ll have more finance options and often more money to play around with.
  • Resale value: The resale value on a house is often higher than other alternatives, which is great if you’re thinking longer term. 

As good as houses are, they aren’t without their faults. Depending on what you want and your expectations of homeownership, these cons are definitely worth a second thought:

  • Expenses: Not only does it cost you more money to buy a house, but they also come with a list of bills that are often more expensive than other property types. From maintenance to utilities, the costs of running a house can really start to add up.
  • Location: You might have heard that buying a house is all about location, location, location! Well, the most desirable locations often come with considerable price tags and major competition. 
  • Maintenance: You’re solely responsible for the work and money involved in the upkeep of your new home. This may come as a bit of a shocker, particularly if you’re used to living somewhere with a property management team who take care of maintenance requests.

Townhouses 

There’s no denying that townhouses are becoming more and more popular for both owner occupiers and investors. These house-alternatives often come as multi-storey buildings that offer the look and feel of a house but are purchased on a multi-strata title. Simply put, you buy the property and share the land. 

As mentioned, houses and townhouses have a lot in common, which means purchasing one comes with many of the same pros that a standalone house has. This includes space and privacy — perhaps not as much as a house, but definitely more than an apartment. They also offer:

  • Lower cost: Townhouses are cheaper than houses, which is great news if your budget isn’t as big as you’d like it to be. Even better, maintenance and utility bills often tend to be lower than standalone houses. 
  • Location: If buying a house in the inner city is simply out of the question, it’s well worth looking into townhouses. Because they are cheaper and take up less space than a house, inner city living may just be an option.
  • Added freedom: Body corporate bylaws are still a thing, but they’re more relaxed than those that come with apartments. 

Similar to houses, it’s not all roses when you buy a townhouse. There are some drawbacks that you should think about carefully before making any purchasing decisions: 

  • Outdoor space: While gardens and yards are becoming more common in modern townhouses, they’re not going to be as generous as those that come with a house.
  • Noise and neighbours: You’re closer to your neighbours when owning a townhouse. In fact, you’ll probably have to share a wall. This cuts down on some privacy and can add additional neighbour noise from time to time. 
  • Stairs: If you’re not one for climbing a flight or two of stairs, a townhouse may not be the right choice. In order to offer added space, these properties are often built up. Not out. 
  • Resale value: If long term planning is big in your decision making process, you should know that the capital growth on townhouses is not nearly as strong as standalone houses.  

Which is better?

You’ve read the pros. You’ve read the cons. Now you’re probably wondering, so … which is better? There is no short and easy answer here. It all depends on your personal circumstances. 

Before you buy any property, it’s important to consider your current needs and your future plans. Ask yourself a few key questions: 

  • How much space do you need?
  • Are you planning on starting a family or adding to your family?
  • Do you have pets?
  • Is outdoor space important to you?
  • Can you compromise on location and convenience for space?
  • Do you want more or less home maintenance responsibility?
  • How much can you realistically afford?

The best way to decide which is better for you, is to evaluate your situation and do your research. Choose a few properties to walk through and see which one feels like the right fit for you.