Apartment Renters vs. House Renters: Who’s Happier?

House Renters make up 43 million households in the United States, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC). They have different options when it comes to the type of home they rent — apartments, houses, condos and town homes.

Apartment

So, how do renters in houses vs. those in apartments differ? Our recent Rent.com survey explores the sentiments, challenges and plans of apartment renters and home renters across the U.S.

  • While there’s room for improvement regardless of where renters are living, apartment renters are slightly happier. However, only 42 percent of apartment renters and 39 percent of house renters say they’re satisfied with their current living situation.
  • People renting apartments are more likely to rent again compared to people renting houses. While less than half of house renters (47.8 percent) say they’ll rent again when they move, most people renting apartments (68.5 percent) say they will.
  • The cost of living does seem to impact renters’ happiness. Just more than one-quarter of renters in houses (27 percent) and apartments (26 percent) say they can’t afford to rent in their desired neighborhood or city.

Where renters are living

Almost half of the renters surveyed (48 percent) currently live in an apartment. Another 40 percent rent houses and the remaining 11 percent rent other places like townhomes or condos.

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Which renters are happiest?

Apartment renters edge out house renters slightly, with 3 percent more of apartment renters (42 percent) saying they’re happy with their living situation. Those living in townhouses report the highest satisfaction (50 percent), and condo renters report the lowest satisfaction at 28 percent.

Renters near the Great Lakes (East North Central) region and the Mountain region also report the most satisfaction when compared with other renters around the country with 46.3 percent and 45 percent living satisfaction.

The Midwest boasts some of the lowest rents overall in the U.S. According to Rent.com’s 2019 National Apartment Rent Price Analysis, rents in the Midwest were significantly below national averages. However, the region still had significant year-to-year increases, with studios up 3.9 percent, one-bedrooms up 4.9 percent, and two-bedrooms up 4.7 percent.

What’s irking renters?

While most renters aren’t happy with their current living situation, there are a variety of things likely causing that lack of satisfaction. Some renters feel like they’re paying too much for their housing. More than four in 10 apartment renters (43 percent) and almost one-third (31 percent) of house renters say their rent is too high.

Apartment renters are less stressed about the cost of utilities, though. Almost one-third of house renters (30 percent) feel like their utility payments are too high, while only 16 percent of apartment renters said the same.

Renters in houses can have higher utilities because often the square footage is higher, so there’s more space to heat and cool. Additionally, an apartment may have a communal dumpster, whereas, in a house, you likely need to arrange with the city or local trash collection service. Water and sewer costs can vary widely, too, and may cost more at a home.

he cost of living can cause renters to feel unsatisfied. Just more than one-quarter of renters say they can’t afford to live in their desired area because of cost (26 percent of apartment renters and 27 percent of house renters). This can also include not being able to afford to live near work or school because the rent is too high. Although fewer renters noted this issue, it does impact 13 percent of apartment renters and 14 percent of house renters.

Not surprisingly, the least satisfied renters are those who indicate they can’t afford to live in their desired city or neighborhood. Only 6 percent of renters who agreed with that statement say they’re satisfied with their living situation.

Planning to buy?

While more apartment renters say they’ll rent again compared to house renters when they move next, most renters say they plan to buy a house and get a mortgage. Just how long it’ll be before they do so depends, though. There isn’t much difference in the desire to own a home in the future, but in the near term, more apartment renters (68.5 percent) say their next home will be another rental, compared to 47.8 percent of house renters.

Having someone else in the rental (to share the down payment and mortgage) seems to impact what renters say is next for them — only 25 percent of solo renters who live alone say they’ll buy something when they move next whereas 54 percent of renters living with a significant other say they’ll make a purchase next.

Why rent an apartment vs. a house?

There are likely a variety of factors that go into a renter’s decision on which type of home to rent. Availability in a particular area can impact your type of home. Some metropolitan areas just don’t have many single-family homes available, making apartments a more approachable and available option.

Your situation as a renter may also impact your decision, such as if you have pets. While some apartment complexes may have strict policies on the number and size of pets you can have there, when renting a house you’ll likely just need to confirm if the landlord allows pets and if they require any additional rent or deposit for them. Learn more about some factors to consider when looking to rent a house vs. apartment.

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The bottom line

Renters in apartments and houses face many of the same challenges — including balancing the location they want with their budget and availability. While the city you’re looking to rent in determines many of the specific concerns you may need to address, ultimately, you’ll have to decide if renting a house or apartment is right for you. Finding the right place to rent is a process, as well, that often involves lots of researching locations, checking reviews and visiting several potential rentals.

Methodology

The Rent.com survey included collected responses from 679 respondents from current renters ages 18 and up. Of these respondents, 55 percent were female and 45 percent were male. Most were ages 18 to 60, with 90.3 percent of respondents falling in this age range. More than 90 percent of respondents were from renters with less than $100,000 in annual household income, with 69.9 percent reporting a household income of below $50,000.

Survey results were self-reported and are, therefore, subject to response biases, such as, but not limited to, social desirability and acquiescence biases.

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