When looking through listings, one of the unit types you will probably come across is the duplex. These unique living spaces are known for their versatility, sharing some similarities with both apartments and houses, which often results in arguments on whether they should be categorized as the former or the latter. Read on to find out exactly which category a duplex falls under, and the features that come with this unit type.
Is a duplex a house or an apartment? Although duplexes share some similarities with a traditional house, they are categorized as apartments. This is because one or both of the units in a duplex are usually rented out to tenants, which is the essential defining feature of apartments.
Another apartment-like characteristic of duplexes is the shared wall (or more rarely, shared floors) between neighbors. Traditional houses, on the other hand, are more likely to be standalone. In a duplex, there are usually rules and regulations to be followed, just like you would if you lived in an apartment complex, and you also have to share outdoor spaces such as driveways and backyard with your neighbor.
Duplexes units combine the privacy offered by traditional houses with the convenience of living in an apartment. Despite the similarities duplexes share with houses, they are categorized as apartments for a variety of reasons.
Features that make a duplex an apartment
1. You pay rent
Just like any other apartment, you are expected to pay rent on a monthly basis when you live in a duplex. The amount you will pay for rent will typically vary depending on your location, but they may be slightly more expensive than a conventional apartment within the same area since they are generally bigger in size. In addition to paying rent, you can also expect to pay other costs associated with apartments such as a security deposit, utility bills, first month’s rent, and even last month’s rent in some cases.
2. You share a wall with your neighbor
A duplex unit comprises of two units that share a wall. This automatically means living in close proximity to your neighbor, just like you would in an apartment building, albeit on a much smaller scale. Consequently, you may have to deal with noise potentially filtering into your unit from next door.
3. You have a landlord
Unlike in a traditional house, you don’t have ownership over the property, renting it from a landlord instead. In some cases, the landlord may opt to live in one of the units of a duplex, which will require for both the tenant and landlord to set boundaries so as to avoid potential conflict in the future.
4. There are some rules and regulations to be followed
When you live in a traditional house, you have the freedom to use your property as you wish without having to worry about the rules and regulations that are usually in place in apartment buildings. On the other hand, in a duplex, a landlord will usually have specifications on how you can use his/her unit, and you may encounter limits such as the number or breed of pets that you can keep in the unit, or regulation of noise.
5. You share common areas with a neighbor
When you live in a duplex, you have to share outdoor spaces such as the backyard and the driveway with your neighbor since you live in the same building. In a traditional house, these spaces are usually private.
Similarities between a duplex and a traditional house
1. They are spacious
Duplexes are among some of the biggest rental units that you will find in the market. Consequently, they are more spacious than most conventional apartments, with many of them being just as roomy as traditional houses.
2. The layout
Duplex units typically have a two-story layout, with the two floors of each unit being connected by a private staircase. Like in most two-story houses, the private spaces of a duplex are found on the upper floor while the entertaining and living areas will be found on the lower floor.
3. They are relatively private
When compared to living in an apartment building or complex, living in a duplex offers more privacy. This is because the two units have separate entrances that tenants can use, and even though the outdoor spaces are communal, you only have to share them with one other resident or family.
4. House-like amenities
The amenities that you will find in a duplex are more common-place in traditional houses rather than an apartment complex. Some of the conveniences that you may come across include in-unit laundry, driveways, backyards, porches and patios, and even garages on some occasions.
5. You may be able to customize your unit
Even with the rules and regulations that you are required to abide by in a duplex, chances are they are not as stringent as those that you will find in an apartment complex. Unlike duplexes, units found in an apartment complex are typically under the management of a property management company which tend to have a variety of rules and regulations that they expect tenants to follow without compromise. On the other hand, when you live in a duplex, you will be dealing with a private landlord. This means that it will be easier to approach him/her regarding modifications you may want to make to the unit. In the end, you are more likely to get the go-ahead to paint the interior walls of your unit or garden in a section of the yard when you live in a duplex.
6. Likely to be located in the suburbs
While most apartment types are associated with urban areas, duplexes are more likely to be found in the suburbs. They are generally not as widely available as smaller apartment types within the city due to the limited space, with most of them found in the outskirts.
A duplex is a type of apartment that shares some similarities with a traditional house. You may have access to house-like amenities, a semi-private backyard, and live in the suburbs, but you will still have to pay your rent on a monthly basis, deal with a landlord, and share a wall and common areas with your neighbor. Nevertheless, a duplex is a viable living option that is worth your consideration.