In real estate, the term single-family home applies to a freestanding house, not attached to a neighbor, as is a duplex or condominium dwelling. As its name implies, it is a domicile intended for one family or group of people, as opposed to multiple families, as in an apartment building. Single-family houses tend to be built on larger lots. The advantages or disadvantages of living in a single-family house might vary, depending on if you are a renter or buyer.
Renting vs. Buying
Single-family houses typically require more maintenance than living in an apartment building or condominium. If you are renting, the additional maintenance may not be a significant factor, depending on the responsibilities of the property owner. For example, if you live in an apartment or condominium with a swimming pool, you can use the pool without the trouble of pool maintenance. If your house has a swimming pool, you can swim in privacy, yet must maintain the pool. Yet, if you rent, your landlord might provide a pool service. Single-family houses typically have larger yards, which require additional maintenance, regardless of if you rent or own.
A reason many people decide on a single-family house is for a fenced yard. While not all single-family houses have fenced or enclosed yards, they normally have a yard area larger than that of a condominium or mobile home located in a mobile home park. For many pet owners, a yard is a significant factor when selecting a home. A yard also provides other possibilities, such as expansion for the house or a place for a pool or spa. Even if you don’t own the house, many rentals have sufficient yards to install a portable spa or above-ground pool.
Garages and Parking
An advantage to most single-family homes is better parking than multi-family complexes. There is usually a driveway and or garage, always giving you somewhere to park vehicles. While garages are available in many condominium and apartment complexes, they tend to be more conveniently located in a single-family house.
Single-family homes tend to give you more space and privacy. There is typically more freedom to host parties, a place for the garage band and a comfortable distance from the neighbors. Yet, for some people, living in a single-family home provides too much isolation. For example, an elderly senior citizen or single college student might be happier living in a complex where he has nearby neighbors, providing a social network.
Ann Johnson has been a freelance writer since 1995. She previously served as the editor of a community magazine in Southern California and was also an active real-estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University, Fullerton.