These days, owning a house on a quarter-acre block isn’t necessarily everyone’s vision of the Australian dream. For many people, an apartment may be a more desirable alternative.
House versus apartment can pose a dilemma for home hunters. Which one is right for you will depend on your financial circumstances, lifestyle and plans for the future.
Living in an apartment means abiding by the rules of your owners’ corporation. Bylaws may prohibit, for example, keeping pets or hanging out washing on your balcony. You may also need approval before you make changes such as installing new flooring or air-conditioning.
Owing a house, on the other hand, can give you the freedom to renovate as you wish, subject to council regulations.
Apartment living can also offer ease of general maintenance, as well as potentially being closer to work, public transport, work and the cafes, restaurants and bars that are often found in the inner-city suburbs of capital cities.
Some apartment blocks also come with sought-after amenities such as gyms, pools, access to shared gardens, playgrounds, rooftop terraces and more.
Before deciding which style of property is best for you, think about your current lifestyle needs and your future plans, such as whether you’re looking to start a family, or if you have children who'll soon be leaving home.
It’s also worth considering your ongoing costs. Houses tend to have higher maintenance costs, as everything on the property – including the garden – is the owner’s responsibility.
Apartment-dwellers are typically responsible for most repairs and maintenance within their apartment, and may pay an owners’ corporation or strata fee to cover repairs and maintenance on ceilings, boundary walls, common areas and services.
This fee also covers building insurance (you may want to take out contents insurance separately), administration costs and a sinking fund for future works. Owners’ corporation fees vary depending on the number of facilities in the development.
Apartments tend to be more affordable to buy than houses. So choosing an apartment could save you money and saddle you with a smaller mortgage.
They may also, however, offer less potential for capital growth than a house, particularly if you buy in a very apartment-dense neighbourhood.