A renter's guide to different types of apartments
Last updated: January 1
If you're a renter (or looking to become one), it's a good idea to understand the different types of places that may be available to you. Here's a breakdown of some common apartment types to help you learn how to identify the differences between them.
Different types of apartments
Understanding the different types of apartments, including size and layout, can help maximize your use of time when deciding what places you should tour.
A studio apartment consists of one room that serves as an open living space, says Realtor.com. This means your living space, kitchen and sleeping area are together in one space with a separate door that leads to a bathroom. According to Apartment Guide, studio apartments tend to be between 300 and 600 square feet.
An alcove studio is similar to a traditional studio, except it includes a separate nook (or alcove) for a bed, says Apartment Guide. Since alcove studios allow for separation of the sleeping area, it can create more privacy.
According to Apartment Guide, a convertible apartment has extra space that you can wall or curtain off to create another bedroom or separate space. It may require you to divide the living room into two rooms, so that one can be a bedroom.
A micro unit typically has less than 300 square feet, which usually includes a fully functional kitchen, says Realtor.com. Even though these units are smaller, they typically include high ceilings or flexible living spaces — for example, a bed that can fold up into the wall to create open living space during the day.
A loft is typically a large room with high ceilings, few walls and large windows, says Apartment Guide. Like studio apartments, lofts have full kitchens and sleeping areas, but are much larger and often built in old factories or warehouses that have been changed into residential space.
A standard one-bedroom apartment contains a true bedroom, according to Apartment Guide. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) explains that a bedroom is typically required to be 70 to 80 square feet, has a way to be heated (such as a vent from a central heating and air system or a window unit), includes an openable window and door, and typically has a ceiling height of at least seven feet. However, ASHI notes that local codes may differ in terms of ceiling or window height and square footage.
A duplex is one structure composed of two separate living units, says Apartment Guide. Duplexes have separate entrances to each unit, which are similar in size. A triplex is similar to a duplex, which means there are three homes within one building.
A housing cooperative ("co-op") is shared housing where a group of people own an entire property together, according to Zillow. Purchasing a "share" gives owners exclusive rights to a living unit at the property and a vote in how the co-op functions, says Zillow. However, keep in mind that because owners of a co-op own the entire property together (rather than a specific unit), the rental process may be more tedious, says Apartment Guide.
A garden apartment occupies the ground level of a building, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. These units are typically found in a single family home.
High-rise apartment unit
Apartment Guide states that a high-rise apartment unit is typically found in a building that has at least 12 stories. A high-rise apartment building will typically have access to elevators, adds Apartment Guide.
Mid-rise apartment unit
A mid-rise apartment unit is typically found in a building that is five to 11 stories high, according to Apartment Guide. These buildings usually have one elevator and are commonly found in urban areas.
Low-rise apartment unit
A low-rise building has no more than four stories, and sometimes doesn't include an elevator, says Apartment Guide.
A railroad apartment is one in which a hallway runs from the front to the back of unit, with rooms located off the hallway on one side, explains Rent.com. The layout is similar to the format of a railroad sleeping car.
A walk-up apartment is found in a building without an elevator, says Apartment Guide. This type of apartment is also typically found in a smaller building with few tenants.
An in-law apartment is a smaller, separate unit sharing the same lot as a single-family home, says Realtor.com. In-law units may be converted rooms of the main house with its own, separate access, or detached from the main house. They are sometimes known as "accessory dwelling units" or "secondary suites," according to Realtor.com.
A "flat" is typically the same thing as an apartment, according to Rent.com. In the U.S., the word "apartment" is more commonly used than "flat." Sometimes, the word "flat" is used when tenants in an apartment building with several units share communal areas, adds Rent.com.
Knowing the differences between types of housing that are available to you is key when searching for a rental. Take time to understand your options so you can find the right place for your situation and budget.