Deciding on a Townhouse

Author: Alecia Pirulis


If you don’t like the idea of having people living above and below you in an apartment or condo but you don’t want to take on the expense and responsibility of a single-family home, then a townhouse may be the perfect solution.

Townhomes are attached on either side, so you’ll share at least one wall in an end unit and two walls in a center unit. Townhomes sometimes offer a small attached garage, and unlike a condo (where you own only the square footage inside the unit) you actually own the land your townhome rests upon. Because townhomes tend to be narrow, they are often at least two stories, so there will be a lot of stair-climbing living in a townhome.

The benefits of not having anyone above you include no footsteps or loud bangs overhead. If you have children, living in a townhouse means you won’t have to worry about disturbing the people below when your child is dragging toys across the floor or jumping around. But, sharing walls means close neighbors and limited privacy.

Having such a tiny yard will solve the dilemma of wanting a yard but not having the time to put into maintenance – the small parcel that extends from your townhouse probably won’t even need a lawn mower. You’ll be able to do some planting and maybe even have a small garden, and the only yard tools you’ll most likely need are a weed-whacker and a trowel.

Many townhome communities have similar amenities to apartment buildings or condos, such as a pool, an exercise room, a clubhouse, or tennis courts. Having these amenities readily available can be a major benefit – just be aware that most townhome communities have homeowner’s associations, or HOAs. To live in the community, you’ll have to agree to pay a monthly fee to the HOA and abide by their rules, which may include pet restrictions, paint colors, and remodeling or building restrictions. The HOA maintains the amenities and provides other services, such as trash collection.

Finally, consider the layout of a townhome community. Since the homes are attached horizontally instead of vertically, if you have lawn in the front as well as in the back of your middle unit, you may find yourself having to walk to the end of the units and around to mow the other half of your lawn. Also, your small yard is connected to other small yards, so it isn’t exactly a private space.

Choosing a townhouse may be the ideal compromise between an apartment and a house. It is less expensive than buying a house, but contains the amenities of an apartment community. It has a yard – but not one that will take much time and effort to maintain. And, while the rules and fees of the HOA may take some getting used to, the sense of community and safety that comes with living in a townhome community make it a great option.