Which is Cheaper: Townhomes or Single-family Homes?

aaronThis is a question that has bothered me ever since I bought my first home. I must have looked at single-family homes and townhomes (plus condos) for a good year or so before settling on a townhome.

And, this is not an easy question to answer. I wrote down and thought about the pros and cons of each before buying – and I want to share what were some of my thoughts then as well as some things I've learned being a homeowner for several years now. You may come to a different point of view – and I would welcome hearing it and the why behind it!


Pros Cons
Little to no outside maintenance Monthly association dues
No large-scale outside repairs to budget Occasional assessments
Often house older residents (quieter) Sometimes management or board slow to move
May have pets Need to stay within rules/regulations
Lower cost to own Limit on pets
Easy to maintain Can hear neighbors through walls
Lower utility bills Bad management or board
No mowing or shoveling Don't appreciate as fast as single-family homes
No landscaping Exteriors must be “uniform”
Board/management company can assist with repairs Not as much house
Chance to meet more residents Sometimes harder to sell
Opportunity to be involved on the board
More community feel


Pros Cons
Home is stand-alone Need more tools
Yard is yours Have to manage exterior
Can make loud noises in house High-cost repairs (roof, siding, doors, etc)
No limit on pets Often higher utility bills
Do anything to your landscaping Lots of hours to keep up
Add on – remodel without approvals from board Must mow, shovel, paint, water…
Appraise faster – sell easier Harder to just leave if traveling a lot

Of course, not exhaustive – but pros and cons are always a good step in making a decision. For me, the townhome was just more attractive of an option.

But, now, let's consider costs. And, this isn't as easy – because every place is different. For the sake of argument and consideration, I'm going to do rough estimates about what things might cost in my area.

Monthly Costs





Dues  $         181.00 Maintanence  $            100.00
Utilities  $         200.00 Utilities  $            250.00
Cable  $         0 Cable  $            0
Taxes  $         150.00 Taxes  $            183.00
Mortgage  $      1,100.00 Mortgage  $         1,500.00
TOTAL  $      1631.00 TOTAL  $         2033.00

Updated 5/13/2016

Of course, these costs are pretty simplified and ball-park. But, we can assume that most single-family homes are going to pay higher taxes (depending on location), higher mortgage (larger home) and will likely pay more in utilities (larger home).

Our tallies do not take into consideration the idea of deferred maintenance on things such as roofs, siding, etc. Whereas a townhome owner's dues go towards “reserves” for the association – the single-family home owner does not have this luxury and will end up paying a lump sum in one sitting when repairs need to be made. Associations do impose assessments from time to time to get caught up on reserves or to pay for a capital project (which just happened to us) – all in all though – it's up to the single-family owner to be saving for the large future expenses.

I'll let my hypothetical numbers speak for themselves. There are probably more scientific and better cost-analysis ways to go about this – but this has been good enough for me.

What are your thoughts? Do you live in a townhome or single-family home? Which do you feel is the cheaper one?

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  1. Tried both and I would never live in a town house again

    • Why is that G?

  2. I totally agree when you said that every place is different, so the comparisons between these two types of houses can vary. I got curious about this because I heard that my best friend is having a difficulty in deciding whether to buy a townhome or a single-family home. From what I know, she will actually buy not until next year because she is still waiting for her incentives which might be released at the end of this year. Thanks!

  3. Yep, there’s lots to factor into a home purchase. Overall, it’s a good comparison and a good reminder of things to factor into the decision. Nice work Aaron.

    • Thanks Jeremy

  4. Good comparison, although people have to keep in mind that the costs will vary a lot from home to home and from townhome to townhome. For example, an older house will probably require more maintenance costs as things are more likely to need repair or replacement. With townhomes, the monthly dues can vary a lot too. Some townhouse associations may not be careful enough with spending or may not keep a large enough reserve.

    You really need to carefully look into whatever type of home you plan on purchasing. Each home in unique in its associated costs. There is a lot more to it than simply a mortgage payment.

    • Good points Jeremy! There is definitely a lot more here we didn’t cover that folks want to be researching when comparing the two.

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