Two renters into their new apartment or house.

Renting a House vs. Renting an Apartment

Updated February 4, 2024 . AmFam Team

Are you on the hunt for a new place to live? Deciding whether to rent a house or an apartment can be tough — both have plenty of benefits and drawbacks. But before you rush out and plunk down a deposit on the first place you see, check out our tips for deciding which type of rental is best for you.


Woman doing her finances


Know How Much You Can Afford

First and foremost, you need to know just how much you can afford to pay per month on rent for your new place. Here’s how you can gauge your spending limits when you search for a new home:

Use a budget. Aside from finding your perfect home, using a budget can set you up for financial success in the short- and long-term. And when it does come to picking a place to live, your budget can help you specify just how much rent you can afford to pay every month. Check out our specific rules for setting the maximum amount you can spend on housing.

Factor in utilities. Some landlords will include utilities such as water, heat, internet and television into your rent, while others will leave the responsibility to you. Take these costs into consideration when putting together your monthly rent limits. Keep in mind that it typically costs more to heat and cool a home — and water costs will likely be higher, too.

Split it up. Having a roommate to split costs with can help your finances tremendously. If you’re considering living on your own but don’t want to have to settle for the smaller space of a studio or one-bedroom apartment, having one or more roommates can allow you to look for bigger, higher-quality living spaces.


Parents playing with their daughters using moving boxes


Figure Out How Much Living Space You’ll Need

Gauging how much space you’ll need for you and your belongings is a great first step in figuring out what type of rental property you should pursue. Consider these things and make your new home fit your specific needs.

How many people are you living with? If you’re living with your spouse, children or a roommate, you’ll need and want more space. Apartments are great choices for those living by themselves and with limited budgets, whereas a family stands to benefit more with the extra space of a home.

How much stuff do you have? Homes will likely offer a lot more space for storing your stuff — both indoor things like furniture, and outdoor items like garden tools and lawnmowers. But if you don’t have a need for the extra space, or you’re looking to get rid of a chunk of your possessions and downsize, an apartment can be a great and possibly less-expensive alternative.

Do you have any pets? A home can offer extra room for a litter box, dog toys or a bird cage — and more comfort for you and your animal friends! And while apartments often have designated areas for you to take your dog outside to do their business and walk, a home might give you a more natural and private area for those activities. But no matter if you’re moving into an apartment or house, make sure you check with your landlord’s policy for pets.

How much time will you spend outdoors? If you find yourself outdoors hanging around the fire pit or grilling out, a house might offer more space than the sectioned-off areas that come with an apartment. Again, check with your landlord to see what kinds of things you’re allowed to have or store outside of your place.


Family playing with their pet in the backyard


Know What You Want

After setting your spending limits and figuring out what you’ll absolutely need in your next home, it’s time for the fun part of the process — finding a place that has the qualities and benefits you’re looking for. Consider the following tips while you look for your new place:

Location, location, location. The kind of places you’ll be able to rent will depend highly on where you plan to live. Looking for a place in the bustling part of a major city? You’ll almost certainly be limited to apartments. Want to immerse yourself in the camaraderie of a tightly-knit small neighborhood? You’ll probably find more houses than apartments there.

You’ll also want to consider your new place’s proximity to amenities, especially if it doesn’t come with a washer or dryer. Your distance to laundromats, grocery stores and gas stations should factor into your decision.

Set your privacy preferences. Do you mind having your neighbors literally a wall away, or do you want a place where you can come home after work and enjoy some peace and quiet by yourself? Some people love the family-like feeling that an apartment complex can offer, while others want more isolation from their neighbors.

Who will handle the handiwork? If you live in an apartment, it’s more likely that your landlord has hired someone to handle basic maintenance and upkeep, like mowing the lawn, replacing lights in common areas, and more. Renting a house may put some of the basic maintenance tasks on your plate. Talk to your landlord about what you’ll be responsible for as a tenant.

Deciding between renting a house or apartment is a tough decision — but deciding to protect your future home and everything in it isn’t. Get in touch with an American Family Insurance agent and ask them about the peace of mind renters insurance can offer. From property protection to liability coverage, it’s got everything you need to protect what’s uniquely yours.

This article is for informational purposes only and based on information that is widely available. This information does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. You should contact a professional for advice specific to your situation.

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