The difference between a townhouse and a duplex (SURPRISING Answer!)

Who does not want to live in a posh and beautiful house? If you are planning to buy a property and want to look beyond the regular apartments, then this is the right time to do so. Let’s take a look at popular types of housing: townhouses and duplexes.

The difference between a townhouse and a duplex

A duplex is a single structure with two houses that are placed either side-by-side or upstairs and downstairs. Two families can live in a duplex house comfortably, however, the ownership cannot be in the name of both parties.

A townhouse (also known as a row house) are separate living spaces that share walls but are owned independently by citizens.

In a duplex, there are only two home units that are attached to each other, whereas in a townhouse, there are multiple houses sharing the same wall.

Some of the main features and nuances to consider before you plan to buy either a duplex or a roughhouse.

1. Privacy concerns

You will get more privacy in a duplex as there will be separate entrances for both the dwellings. In a duplex, you will share one wall or roof with another occupant, however, in a row house, you will share walls with neighbors on both sides. You can think about installing soundproof walls to maintain your privacy, however, needless to say, it will be an extra cost.

2. Maintenance and homeowner association fees

Whether you buy a row house or a duplex, you will have to pay for property maintenance for both. In a duplex, you will need to maintain the shared outdoor spaces and keep the landscaping clean.

Typically, if you live in a townhouse, you will have to pay homeowner’s association (HOA) fees, which is similar to the one if you buy an apartment in an apartment complex. Keep in mind the HOA is a committee that is made up of inhabitants of the area. They can be notoriously hard to deal with in some instances. It will cover the following fees-

  • City services- Fees for trash collection, water and sewage is included in the HOA fees.
  • Community facilities- If your row house community has a gym, sauna bath, swimming pool, tennis court etc. then the charges for maintaining them will be included in the HOA fees.
  • Reserve funds- Most HOAs collect a reserve fund or emergency corpus from the residents to take care of situations. This may include faulty plumbing and leakage, any major electrical fault in the circuits, water clogging due to some faulty drainage, etc. Hence, there are regulations about how many times the association can charge the homeowners, hence read the manual properly before deciding to buy a townhouse.

Benefits and pitfalls of living in a duplex house

Example of a Duplex. Image by Mark Ludwick


It can be more comfortable to live in a duplex as there are fewer people living around you. People can make noise or make things dirty. This is why having fewer people around can be an advantage.

The cost of buying a duplex will be higher than buying a townhouse. However, if you factor in the rental income which will flow in even in the years to come, the ROI (return on investment) will be much higher.


As discussed, there are fewer people in a duplex house. This can make the area less cozy though as there might be fewer shops and restaurants nearby that serve the community. This is why a lot of students prefer to live in a townhouse over a duplex. It allows them to see their friends more often and hang out together.

Most people start out in a townhouse and once they start to have kids, they tend to move to a duplex. The heating costs in a townhouse are often lower as you can use the heat of your neighbor to heat your home as well.

Benefits and pitfalls of living in a townhouse


2020 Homeowner Satisfaction Survey indicated that most people living in townhouses talked about their experience as positive.

You will have your own yard space, minus the hassles of having to maintain everything yourself. The privacy factor in a way will be more as you will not have to share the common areas with anyone. The community facilities will be taken care of by your HOA and you can relax and enjoy the benefits of living in a detached family home.

Photo by Aman Kumar on Unsplash


Ensure that your HOA does not restrict you from putting the townhouse on rent or doing certain repairs. In the future, if you plan to move out of that place and want to rent it out, it might be proven cumbersome then. Since the walls are shared, if you have noisy neighbors or crying kids, it might disturb your peace and tranquility.

If your neighbor likes to hang pictures on their walls, it might end up disrupting yours. Since you will share plumbing pipes, if your neighbor throws stuff in the kitchen sink, it might clog the entire drainage system. You might have to pay for the plumber’s fees while it wasn’t your fault. A good relationship with your neighbors is essential as you can impact each other’s life. Some people are just impossible to deal with and this is a big disadvantage of a townhouse.


There are clear differences between a townhouse and a duplex. While a duplex offers more privacy as there are fewer homes nearby, it is also more expensive. Most people start out in a townhouse and move to a duplex over time as it is more comfortable to live in the latter.

We would suggest you to do proper market research before buying a property. Since it is a long-term investment and you will be paying a mortgage on it for a long time, you need to be absolutely sure before you sign on the dotted lines.


Difference Between Townhouse and Duplex