Are you in the market to purchase a new home? If you’re ready to put down roots, then you may wonder how to choose the best type of house for your needs.
Should you purchase a single-family home that’s big enough for you and your loved ones? Or, should you invest in a multi-family property with enough room to comfortably contain more than one generation?
It can be difficult to make such a big decision on your own. Today, we’re breaking down the differences for you. Read on to discover the key differences between a single family home vs multi family home and how to decide which one is right for you.
What Is a Single-Family Home?
A single family home is a type of residential structure that stands on its own. It does not share any walls or living spaces with any other building or residence.
These types of dwellings are designed to accommodate only one family. This might be a couple, or a couple and their children. Though the amount of acreage can vary greatly, single-family homeowners do own the land that their structure sits on.
Most of the time, a single-family home will only include the amenities that one family would need. This will include:
- One kitchen
- One set of appliances
- One set of utilities
- Bedrooms and bathrooms
What Is a Multi-Family Home?
As its name implies, a multi family home is a structure that contains enough space to accommodate more than one family. While this is usually limited to a personal residence, it can also include buildings that blend commercial and residential spaces.
Instead of simply being one large house, this type of home is typically divided into multiple, separated living spaces that allow each family to live independently of the other. In this case, each living space may function as its own unit, complete with a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and entertainment area.
A lesser-known fact is that each unit will also have its own address, as well as its own utility meter. It will also have a designated entrance, so residents can enter and exit without disturbing the other people who live there.
Most multi-family homes contain between two and four units. They can be called duplexes, triplexes, or quadplexes depending on their specific layout.
Usually, one person owns the entire property. In this way, multi-family homes differ from condos or apartment complexes, where each homeowner owns their own unit.
Each unit in a multi-family home can be joined together either vertically or horizontally. Usually, they will all share a single heating system, as well as public utilities, including water and sewage.
Single Family Home vs Multi Family Home: Main Differences
When it comes to single-family homes and multi-family homes, both types of structures can offer your family a comfortable, safe living environment.
However, it’s important to choose one that will meet your expectations. Let’s take a look at the core differences between these two properties.
Level of Privacy
As you might imagine, a single-family home will give your immediate family a greater degree of privacy. This is because you will be the only ones living within it. You do not have to share walls with other family members.
If privacy is a major concern, then it’s best to stay small. The more space you introduce, the more people you can accommodate. While this can be an incredible benefit at times, it can also make it difficult to establish much-needed seclusion.
As you browse single-family homes, pay close attention to the total square footage. This will give you a good idea of how much space you will have once you move in. While multi-family homes tend to have a larger overall footprint, each individual unit is usually much smaller than you’d find in a single-family dwelling.
Many real estate investors are particularly interested in multi-family homes. This is because they can rent the individual living units out, one at a time. By following this strategy, they can usually earn a greater monthly income than they could earn by renting out a single-family home.
Even if you aren’t interested in navigating the real estate market, you could still earn money from your multi-family dwelling. To do so, simply choose the unit that you would like to occupy. Then, you can rent out the remaining spaces to friends, family members, or acquaintances.
In turn, they will pay rent to live there. This can be a great way to earn a side income, especially if you already own the multi-family property outright.
When building a multi-family home, there are different construction elements to consider than with a single-family structure. This is especially the case if the multi-family home includes both residential and commercial spaces.
For instance, a mixed-use building can also be considered a multi-family home. One example is a small retail business downtown with a loft space above it.
During the construction phase, contractors must make sure that the right zoning measures are in place for the structure. In addition, they must also check that there are enough parking spaces available and that all requisite common areas are incorporated into the structure.
The materials used during this stage must also be stronger and capable of withstanding heavier loads. Lastly, most owners will also invest in landscaping around the building, especially if it’s open to the public.
Most nuclear families prefer single-family homes. This is because they tend to have more lawn space and square footage designated just for their family. This means there’s more room to spread out, and you don’t have to worry about anyone else being too close.
However, this isn’t always a deal-breaker. Many multi-generational families will steer clear of single-family homes because there isn’t enough separation. With a multi-family property, they can all reside under the same roof but will have their own living spaces to retreat to at the end of the day.
Next, let’s talk utilities. In a multi-family unit, the overall supporting systems tend to be much larger. These include plumbing systems, as well as HVAC systems.
You need more powerful output and machines that are capable of keeping each unit comfortable around the clock. Once you have them in place, keep in mind that they will also require more extensive maintenance and upkeep. Moreover, if one of the systems conks out, the price and labor required to repair it could be substantial.
Due to this amount of power usage, multi-family homeowners are usually required to purchase oversized, heavy-duty systems that are up to the task. Though they might be effective, these machines are rarely efficient. In fact, their prolonged use could significantly raise the carbon footprint of any property.
If this is a concern of yours, then you can research eco-friendly utilities and machines that are designed to draw as little power as possible when not in use. It might not offset all of the damages, but it can make a small difference.
No single family home guide or multi family home guide would be complete without mentioning the cost differences between the two. In most cases, a single-family home will cost less. This makes it best for a family with a smaller budget.
In addition, it’s also easier to secure a mortgage for these types of properties, as well as finance them for the long term. The only exception would be if you were a real estate investor looking to purchase a mixed-use property. In that case, the ROI on a multi-family unit can be impressive, as long as you invest in the right location.
No matter which type of home you choose, keep in mind that owning your own residence is usually much cheaper than renting over the long term. If you’re ready to buy or sell in the Windy City, you can check it out today!
In terms of ongoing costs, you will usually spend less on maintenance and upkeep for a single-family home. You only have to worry about the building and property that your residence sits on. With a multi-family home, that acreage could be higher, and there could be more issues with utilities, plumbing, and other household appliances.
Which Type of Home Will You Choose?
Now that you know the key distinctions between a single family home vs multi family home, is your decision a little clearer? Rather than rush into a move, take the time to weigh the factors that matter the most to you.
If you want to put down roots just for your nuclear family, then a single-family dwelling is usually the most appropriate and affordable option. If you plan to live with multiple generations or you want to invest in mixed-use property, then a multi-family dwelling might be ideal!
Once you’re settled, keep checking our blog for more helpful guides!