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Understanding the Difference Between Townhouses and Duplexes

When it comes to choosing a home, many potential buyers find themselves weighing the options between townhouses and duplexes. Both offer unique benefits and drawbacks, making it essential to understand the key differences between these two types of multi-family housing options. In this article, we will discuss the main factors that set townhouses and duplexes apart, helping you make an informed decision about which is right for you.

1. Number of Shared Walls

A significant difference between townhouses and duplexes is the number of shared walls. Townhouses are multi-family housing complexes that can include multiple units in a row, with each unit sharing one or two walls with its neighbors. On the other hand, duplexes consist of two connected homes, with each owner sharing just one wall.

The number of shared walls can impact noise levels and natural light, with more shared walls often resulting in less natural light and potentially higher noise levels. However, well-constructed party walls can help reduce noise and provide a comfortable living environment.

2. Condo Fees & Homeowners Association (HOA) Fees

Another factor to consider when deciding between a townhouse and a duplex is the presence of condo or HOA fees. Townhouses often have governing boards that oversee the upkeep of the property and collect fees for maintenance. In contrast, duplexes typically do not require such fees, as the two homeowners can make decisions about property upkeep without the need for a governing board.

It’s essential to inquire about any potential fees during your home search, as they can impact your overall housing costs and budget.

3. Size and Space

Townhouses and duplexes also differ in terms of size and available space. Townhouses generally range from 1,000 to 1,400 square feet, making them ideal for young families or first-time homebuyers. Duplexes, however, offer more space, with sizes typically ranging from 1,200 to 1,800 square feet.

Additionally, duplexes often come with single or double garages and shared yards, while townhouses may have limited garage and yard space.

4. Price

Price is another critical factor when choosing between a townhouse and a duplex. Townhouses tend to be more affordable, with prices ranging from the high $200,000s to the mid $300,000s. Duplexes, on the other hand, usually start in the high $300,000s price range.

Of course, prices will vary depending on factors such as location, lot size, and available amenities, so it’s essential to carefully research and compare your options.

5. Privacy

While both townhouses and duplexes offer more privacy than apartment buildings and condos, duplexes generally provide slightly more privacy due to sharing only one wall with a neighbor. Townhouses, with multiple connected units, may result in more frequent encounters with neighbors. However, both types of homes can offer adequate privacy if constructed with a well-designed party wall.

6. Exterior Design and Yard Space

Duplexes often provide more freedom for homeowners to make changes to the exterior of their homes, such as paint colors or other aesthetic choices. In contrast, townhouse exteriors are typically maintained by the community and do not allow for individual alterations.

Yard space is another consideration when choosing between a townhouse and a duplex. Duplexes usually come with larger, more private yards, while townhouses often have smaller outdoor spaces. If having a spacious yard is essential to you, a duplex may be the better option.

7. Maintenance Responsibilities

Lastly, maintenance responsibilities differ between townhouses and duplexes. Townhouse residents typically pay condo or HOA fees that cover grounds maintenance, such as snow removal and lawn care. Duplex owners, however, are responsible for their own exterior maintenance.

This difference in maintenance responsibility can be an essential factor for some homeowners, particularly those who travel frequently or prefer a low-maintenance lifestyle.


Ultimately, the choice between a townhouse and a duplex will depend on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. By understanding the key differences between these two types of multi-family housing options, you can make an informed decision that best suits your lifestyle and requirements. When you’re ready to explore your options, be sure to buy a home near the area that best fits your needs and preferences. Happy house hunting!