Should you buy a house or a flat?

Recently I was browsing through our lovely Propertybook site checking out the prices of various properties for the research I am doing and I noticed something that seemed a little odd. The asking prices for flats and garden flats in Harare’s CBD were on par or even higher than the prices of houses in upcoming middle-density suburbs in places like MadokeroAspindale and Arlington Park. Which begs the question, if you have the money, which one should you buy a flat or a house?


Today I will attempt to answer just that question. As already pointed out the prices for flats be they normal flats or garden flats/units is pretty similar to that of houses in mid-density suburbs so here price differences are not a factor. When presented with such an option most would-be homeowners tend to be confused and do not know what to do. But there are other factors to consider viz:

  • Your lifestyle and how it fits with either choice - this includes looking at things like distance from the CBD for example. Is this something that would be important to you or not? If you are someone who works in the CBD and you’re always getting caught up in traffic while driving to work, then living in the CBD would be an advantage. However, if you are someone who cares about privacy a house might be just what you need you can for example buy one with a durawall and fence yourself in.

  • Freedom to alter your property-houses give you the freedom to make alterations such as extending your house and doing other extensive alterations without having to consult anyone. You actually own the house and yard surrounding it and you are pretty much free to do whatever you want with it provided you get council approval. With a flat, your freedom to make alterations is often limited. You will have to seek approval from others which might not be forthcoming.

  • Flats do come with added services that would be costly if you were to acquire them on your own. Take for example things like security and the internet. Most flats do come with a fibre connection to the building already installed. You getting internet might just be a matter of paying a small monthly fee or at the very least having fibre installed from a very short distance away. Most flats already have a guard or some sort of security arrangement. For a house, you are on your own. Also because you are a single customer you don’t get to enjoy economies of scale for these services.

  • Just like with the internet you also get to enjoy economies of scale on insurance payments. It tends to be much cheaper to pay for insurance in case something happens to the flat building as there are more of you. For homes, insurance is so expensive that most people skip it all together.

  • Maintenance costs are higher for houses as they tend to come with some sort of yard you have to tend to including planting a garden. Talking of gardens, have you read our awesome guide on how to install a keyhole garden in your backyard? With flats, you don’t have a yard to tinker with. That may or may not be an advantage depending on your preference. Also, houses tend to have higher rates compared to flats. For large houses, you end up paying more in maintenance fees than you would pay to rent an average house!

  • If you want a forever home you need to buy a house, if you do not mind having the rug pulled from off your feet then a flat is the way to go. With a house, you get to decide when you want to rebuild or sell with a flat it comes down to what the majority think. If the majority wants to sell to some developer you will have no choice but to accept the offer.

These are just some of the factors you will have to consider before settling on a flat or a house. I hope that helps you to come to a decision.

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