The main difference between apartments and houses is that the latter is single unit on its own while the former is a unit among others in the same building. It would be impossible to advise against one and advocate for the other without considering the person’s status and needs. Some people prefer and are well suited to apartments while others go for the alternative. Some crave the space and privacy that comes with a house but also yearn for the meager maintenance demands that come with apartments. Below are factors that could help you decide.

1. Space

Space is important if you would like your privacy or if you have many family member living in the same house. You will require some breathing space as well as enough room to accommodate everyone. Most houses will usually come with a compound that could be used for parking or as play space for the children.

In the case of an apartment, the amount of space you get will really depend on how economic your landlord was with the land. Some landlords build units with very spacious rooms while others will squeeze so many units on a small piece of land that they threaten to spill out of the building. Since there is no compound to speak of all your belongings will need to be within the four walls of your rent.

You could get the best of both worlds by finding a building with spacious units. This way you are not bogged down with the responsibilities of a house but you still get lots of room to dance.

2. Expense

Some expenses like rent and garbage collection are common regardless of the type of dwelling you choose. However, a house may also require a maintenance budget. This will especially be true if the compound has a hedge that has to be trimmed. You will also find that the security fee in a house will be higher than in an apartment, at least in most cases. The power bill could also be higher because of more bulbs and more people in the house. If you prefer to use a cleaning lady as opposed to live in help then you will spend more on cleaning as the house is bigger than the apartment.

If the apartment is a big one with say four bedrooms then you could expect the expenses to be more or less the same. The location of the apartment will also matter in terms of expenses and fees for things like security.

3. Freedom

Are you a smoker? Do you have pets? Do you like tom blast loud music at whatever time of the day whether it is dark outside or not? If you have a house, you can do all these things without concern for your neighbors. If you can blast music loud enough for your neighbors to be bothered then you are probably working to render yourself deaf. Your pet has the freedom to pee on the lawn and sleep by the gate. You would also have the freedom to turn your lawn into a small kitchen garden. While living in a house, there will be a higher chance of approval to make changes like painting and tiling.

In an apartment, you would have to consider your neighbors if you need a smoke and do not have a balcony. You would also require approval from your landlord to bring in a pet. If you could get away with growing spinach in sacks, where would you set it up? The stair case?

4. Privacy

In an apartment, as soon as the bed post knocks on the wall a few times the neighbors perk up for a show. As soon as your cousin of the opposite sex visits for a few days, suddenly people need to walk by your door often. You buy a huge TV and everyone is striving to peep through the curtain for a look.

In a house, you can whoever over to your house. You could buy a 370 inch Titan Zeus TV and watch it from the floor. No one would know or care that you own a very expensive electronic but no couch.

5. Maintenance Demands

Apart from the occasional deep clean and sweeping the area outside your door, there will not be much to do about your apartment. Most of the maintenance responsibility lies with your landlord. However, in the case of a house you will be responsible for keeping things in shape both in the house and the compound. Rarely will the landlord take the initiative to repair things for you. Some barely even visit for inspection of the building status once you have moved in. 

6. Suitability

Then there is a question of suitability. This is determined by the point you are in your life and the demands of that particular station. An example would be if you are a leader in your industry and you have at least three children as well as two relatives who live with you. This case might warrant a house. This way everyone would be comfortable. The house would be fitting for a person of your stature and age in addition to serving that functional need.

Another example is if you are a person who moves often maybe due to work demands or whatever other reason there might be. Or maybe you are only living in Nairobi temporarily. An apartment could be easier to wrap up when moving time rolls around. There is a lot less stuff and it will be easier to pack up.

In some cases, choosing between a house and apartment will lie squarely on personal preferences as opposed to the above. However, it is important to understand the implications of each before committing. Truth is, there will be an opportunity cost despite the choice you make. As has always been advocated, do your research before you sign on the dotted line of any rental agreement. Here is to choices!