Apartment vs Independent House: How to make the right choice

Apartment vs Independent House

Apartment vs Independent House

Buying a house, for most families, is not just an investment or just a random activity that needs to be carried out. Buying a house, for most families, in fact, is an emotion. It is not only one of the most important decisions but also a once-in-lifetime event. Having said that, buying a house, for all the dilemmas and restrictions it comes with, can never be as simple as it looks or sounds.

If you are looking to buy a house in a metropolitan city, especially, one of the biggest dilemmas is having to pick between the old good independent house v/s a high-end apartment in a skyscraper. In order to help you out with this rather monumental decision, apart from the obvious restraint – money, we have listed a few additional identifying factors that you should be considering when you choose between an apartment house and an independent house.

Budget

The primary defining and determining factor is usually the cost or the budget of the house options in question.

  1. Independent houses typically tend to cost more because there is a lot of customization and preferability involved. When you micro-manage the design/ construction of your house, you are more inclined to spend more, trying to make every element meet your imagination.
  2. Another reason why independent houses turn out more expensive as compared to apartment houses is that they involve a lot of subhead costs like government approval and clearance charges. If you buy an apartment house, not only do these costs go down as they are divided amongst hundreds of people but also the stress of getting the clearances and approvals are not for you to be bothered about.

Your family dynamics

The number of people who would be inhabiting the new house majorly affects the favorability of the type of house.

Joint families

If the family in question follows a joint family set up with more than 4-5 people living under a roof, buying an independent house usually makes more sense because so many people in a flat may make the house seem rather congested. For joint families, having an independent house offers a lot more space to freely move around without making the house feel chaotic.

Nuclear families

The priorities and the requirements of a nuclear family differ largely from that of joint families. While a joint family may look for a spacious house, nuclear families are usually more inclined to having a suburban lifestyle in a community setup that offers open spaces for activities. Lifestyle and convenience win over in nuclear families as against the space requirement in joint families. Hence, an apartment house may make much more sense to nuclear families or couples wanting to start a life on their own.

A couple of other factors which are equally affected by the family dynamics include living space and amenities as discussed below.

Living space

Apart from just the general lifestyle, the living space requirements of families are also usually different. Even some joint families may not have more than 5 people living under a roof (who can very well adjust in three different rooms), but some nuclear families, with only the parents and kids, maybe 5 people (parents + three kids) in total who’ll need 4 rooms for all to have their own private space. Hence, you need to ask yourself what exactly is the floor space/ number of rooms you need before you invest in a house.

  1. While apartments are more compact, independent houses tend to be spread across a larger floor plan and so, are spacious
  2. Apartments follow a fixed floor plan that does not give you the opportunity to decide your design or structure. Independent houses, on the other hand, can be designed, engineered, and structured as per one’s own fancies. For example, you can always build an extra small ancillary room in the given free space if you’re investing in an independent house. In an apartment, however, you cannot break down walls to make extra rooms.

Access to amenities

Another major distinguishing factor between a house in an apartment v/s investing in an independent house is the availability of amenities.

Independent houses: There are only so many amenities one can build/construct for themselves because each amenity will come at an added cost. You could very well build a mini home theater or even a swimming pool and a garden in your independent house but again, the scope is always restricted.

Apartment houses: In an apartment house, on the other hand, a huge array of amenities like 24×7 security, huge gardens, play areas, recreational areas, in-community retail spaces, maintenance staff, etc are offered by the builder by default. These amenities are usually selling propositions because they offer families so much more convenience and an elevated lifestyle in general.

Maintenance

While home loans and savings may help you comfortably deal with the one-time short terms costs of having your own house, the maintenance cost is another factor you need to consider before making a decision between an apartment house vs an independent house as they are crucial to the long-term inhabitation of the house.

Independent houses: Independent houses are the prime responsibility of the owners/residents and hence, the maintenance and upkeep responsibility are also directly dependent on the sustained efforts of the owners/residents.

Apartment houses: Apartment houses are offered as one unit in a community of multiple similar houses where the maintenance is taken care of by the community builders.

Having said that, there are pros and cons to both still because independent house owners can invest in durable materials at the time of the foundation of the house itself, they can save up on multiple long-term costs. On the other hand, while the maintenance of flats may be done by the builders, lowering the effort required from the owners, flat owners may end up spending a lot of money year on year as added maintenance costs. It really comes down to convenience and one’s preference here.

Summing up: A quick glance at advantages and disadvantages of an apartment vs independent house

Point of comparisonIndependent housesApartment houses
Budget

a. Usually more expensive because of customizations 

b. Additional subhead costs such as plot cost and taxes, government clearance and approval costs

Usually cheaper because most costs are divided into multiple residents or are taken care of by the builder
Family dynamicsMore suitable for nuclear families who prioritize a high-end lifestyle and access to amenities More suitable for joint families who prioritize an open-space house 
Living SpaceSimilar floor plans across houses, usually compact The freedom to customize lets you decide your living space
Access to amenitiesReady access to a whole range of recreational (play areas, gardens, clubhouses), security (24×7 surveillance), as well as a convenience (in-house retail spaces, ATMs) amenities. This reduces the need of traveling to another area to fulfill day-to-day needs.Access to amenities depends on how much you can spend to build in-house amenities as well as the location of the independent house.
Long-term maintenance
  1. Maintenance costs dependent on the kind of materials used at the time of constructions
  2. The responsibility of the sustained efforts of the residents/owners
Miantainece typically taken care of by the builders which reduces the efforts or time required by the owners/residents, albeit against year on year maintenance costs
Miscellaneous points of comparison
  1. Multiple dwelling options
  2. Gated communities offer the opportunity of building lifelong relationships and friendships with co-inhabitants of the community
  3. Safer owing to complex-living
  4. Responsible garbage segregation
  5. Selling and buying easier, quicker 
  6. Very low possibility of cheating/fraud
  7. No control on the quality of construction material 
  1. Flexibility to make your home look exactly like you want it to 
  2. You are your own king
  3. No dependency on anybody else to make decisions 
  4. It may not be sustainable unless you have established financial viability as the construction costs as well as long terms maintenance costs may escalate unknowingly

Apartment vs independent FAQs

1. Why is living in an apartment cheaper?

Apartment living, in some cases, maybe a better option as it is typically more cost-effective than individual living. This is because a lot of common maintenance costs like day-to-day upkeep, water costs, plot clearance costs, taxes, etc can be divided amongst multiple people.

2. What is an independent house?

An independent is a house that is built exclusively by the owners for their own living purposes or for renting out. The piece of land an independent house is built on belongs exclusively to the owners and hence the responsibility of attaining the plot as well as long-term maintenance lies on the owners.

3. Why is a house better than an apartment?

Living in an independent house gives the owners a lot more freedom and control as there in 'association' you are answerable to. For example, you may be able to host a party with multiple guests in your independent house. In an apartment, however, the noise of such a party may bother others living in the building and may create trouble for the party hosts.
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