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Introduction to Townhouses and Duplexes

When looking for a new home, potential buyers often come across two popular types of multi-family housing: townhouses and duplexes. Both options offer unique benefits and drawbacks, depending on the needs and preferences of the homeowner. In this article, we will explore the key differences between these two types of housing, helping you make an informed decision when searching for your next home.

1. Number of Shared Walls

The most significant difference between a townhouse and a duplex is the number of shared walls. Townhouses are typically part of a larger complex, with multiple units connected in a row. As a result, townhouse owners may share walls with multiple neighbors, potentially leading to a higher noise level and less natural light due to limited external walls. On the other hand, duplexes consist of only two connected homes, meaning each owner shares just one wall with a neighbor.

2. Condo Fees and Homeowners Association Fees

Another important distinction between townhouses and duplexes is the presence of condo or homeowners association (HOA) fees. Townhouse complexes often have a governing board responsible for overseeing the maintenance of common areas, such as landscaping and snow removal. This maintenance is funded through monthly fees paid by townhouse owners. In contrast, duplex owners typically do not pay any fees, as they are responsible for maintaining their own property and coordinating with their neighbor for shared expenses.

3. Size

In general, townhouses are smaller than duplexes, with sizes typically ranging from 1,000 to 1,400 square feet. This makes townhouses a popular choice for first-time homebuyers and young families. Duplexes offer more space, with sizes usually ranging from 1,200 to 1,800 square feet. Additionally, duplexes may have larger yards and garage spaces than townhouses.

4. Price

When it comes to price, townhouses are generally more affordable than duplexes. Prices for townhouses can range from the high $200,000s to the mid $300,000s, while duplexes tend to start in the high $300,000s. However, prices for both types of homes can vary depending on factors such as location, lot size, and amenities.

5. Privacy

While both townhouses and duplexes offer more privacy than apartment buildings and condos, duplexes generally provide more privacy than townhouses due to having only one shared wall. However, well-constructed shared walls in both types of homes can help minimize noise and provide adequate privacy for homeowners.

6. Exterior and Yard

Duplex owners typically have more freedom to make changes to the exterior of their homes, while townhouse owners are often restricted by community guidelines. Duplexes also usually have larger, more private yards than townhouses, providing more outdoor space for homeowners to enjoy.

7. Maintenance

Finally, maintenance responsibilities differ between townhouses and duplexes. Townhouse owners often enjoy the benefit of having exterior maintenance tasks, such as snow removal and lawn care, covered by their condo or HOA fees. In contrast, duplex owners are responsible for their own maintenance, providing more control over their property but also requiring more time and effort.


Ultimately, the choice between a townhouse and a duplex will depend on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. By considering factors such as shared walls, fees, size, price, privacy, exterior features, and maintenance responsibilities, you can determine which type of multi-family housing is the best fit for you and your family. To explore available townhouses and duplexes in your area, visit Jessica Fulk’s search page for a comprehensive listing of available properties.