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Every rental home is different, just as every renter is different. As a renter you could opt for an apartment in a large complex right in town, or go the completely opposite way and rent a house in the country. Of the many considerations we have to bear in mind when making rental choices, perhaps none of them are as important as the type of home we select. The place you choose to live in should be a reflection of the way you live and of your lifestyle. Your family should be a great fit in your rental home. The type of home you end up in will have a large influence over your comfort level at that home. The simplest way to have a discussion of rental homes types is to go over the most common types one by one.


A house is the quintessential American home. Many renters consider houses their first choice when they go shopping for homes, and for good reason. Living in a house means having more privacy than you would have in an apartment or an attached condo or townhouse. It offers more space than a loft, and gives renters their own back yard and often a garage as well. Houses are great choices as rental for families for several reasons. First of all, they offer you the space you need to accommodate a growing family. Some even have basements, meaning the toys and tools and all the other stuff that might just pile up in an apartment has a place it can go.

With this being said, basements do not clean themselves. And that back yard needs to be maintained. Most of the time the renter is responsible for lawn and yard work when renting a house. The same is usually true of snowplowing and shoveling sidewalks in the winter months. Maintenance is more of an issue in a house than in almost any other rental.


A condominium offers some of the great features of a house without all the work. For example, you still usually get back yard space for grilling or playing with the kids, but in a condo, the outside maintenance is typically hired out by the association, so as a tenant of this type of home you probably will not have to cut the grass or keep up with the landscaping. Inside, many condos are stylistically similar to houses, with many of the same great features. Basements are common in newer condos.

But all that work being done for you has its cost. Living in a condominium development, you have to pay association dues. And the owners of condos renting them out to tenants generally require their tenants to take care of these dues on top of the normal rental payment each month. In some associations these dues can be a few hundred dollars per month or even more, so it is wise to get the full report on the cost of a condominium before opting to rent one.


Many renters across the country start out in apartments, and some live there for life. Apartments have a few tremendous advantages. First, there is no outside responsibility for upkeep. From shoveling and salting the walk to plowing the parking lots to trash pickup, the apartment management takes care of all outside work. This includes maintaining common areas renters can use for playing sports or picnicking. Apartments also tend to be a bit cheaper to rent than houses or condos of similar location and square footage, so they are a good option for the budget conscious.

But many apartment dwellers tell horror stories about paper thin walls or unresponsive landlords. And some apartment buildings are several stories tall, so things like bringing in the groceries become a much more difficult task in some apartments. Privacy is definitely an issue in some apartments, so renters have to assess all of the positive and negative aspects of apartment living to decide if it is right for them.


Townhouses are structurally similar to attached condos in that there is no side yard in between them. They are usually located where space is at a premium, so their back yards are sometimes small as well, and their front door sometimes opens up directly to the sidewalk in front of a major street or road. Townhouses are normally two or three stories tall. Inside they are set up similar to houses or condos.

In a townhouse, there is sometimes less yard work than in a house, but this depends on the situation. Townhouses are not always the best choice for families with young children because of their proximity to busy roads. But each townhouse is different, and this is one type of rental home in particular about which it is quite difficult to generalize. There are some great features to certain townhouses, and they might be appealing to a lot of renters depending on their location and price. Better to take a look and see a townhouse listed for rent than to write it off.


A loft is a popular choice for single renters or for couples who do not yet have any children. A loft apartment usually has an open floor plan with no separate rooms, other than a bathroom. In many cases lofts are situated on the top story of businesses or converted industrial buildings. Lofts are great for renters who want to live close to town, because in the vast majority of cases they are located right in town, walking distance from many different sights and sounds. Renters who like to enjoy the nightlife in a city love lofts because when you walk downstairs and hit the pavement outside, you're already next door or down the street from anywhere you might want to go.

Lofts are a great choice for singles but not so much for growing families. The architectural setup usually precludes privacy for individual sleepers at night. They normally are not all that large in terms of square footage, although the open floor plan makes them seem bigger because virtually the whole area is the living room of a loft. They do not include access to yard space in most cases, either.

Choosing the Right Rental Type

There is no one perfect rental type for all renters. If there were, we wouldn't have such an abundance of choices. Yet this abundance is exactly why any renter can find a great place to live with a bit of effort and a little background on the different types of rental homes and the potential pros and cons of each.

It is impossible to know for certain ahead of time exactly what you are looking for in a home. It is highly advisable to look at a few places of types different than what you think you want just to be sure you're on the tight track in your thinking. You may even stumble upon some hidden gem. One of the joys of home hunting is the thrill of the chase. The moment you find the right place, you will know it. But take the time to look.

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