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Understanding the Differences Between Townhouses and Duplexes

When it comes to multi-family housing, townhouses and duplexes are popular choices for families seeking affordable and convenient living arrangements. While both options involve sharing walls with neighbors, there are key differences to consider when deciding which type of home is right for you. This article will discuss the main differences between townhouses and duplexes, including factors such as the number of shared walls, condo and HOA fees, size, price, privacy, exterior, yard, and maintenance.

1. Number of Shared Walls

Townhouses typically consist of multiple units connected in a row, sharing walls on either side. On the other hand, duplexes only have two connected homes, meaning each owner shares just one wall with their neighbor. The increased number of shared walls in a townhouse can lead to higher noise levels and less natural light. However, well-constructed party walls can help reduce noise and improve overall comfort.

2. Condo Fees & Home Owners Association Fees

Townhomes often include a governing board to oversee the maintenance and upkeep of the property, resulting in condo or HOA fees. Duplexes, in contrast, typically do not have such fees, as there are only two homeowners involved in decision-making. However, both types of homes may still be subject to community or developer-imposed HOA fees, so it is essential to research this aspect when choosing a home.

3. Size

Townhomes generally range from 1,000 to 1,400 square feet, making them suitable for young families or those seeking a smaller space. Duplexes offer more room, with sizes ranging from 1,200 to 1,800 square feet. Additionally, duplexes often have single or double garages and shared yards, while townhouses may have limited garage and yard space.

4. Price

Townhouses are typically more affordable, with prices ranging from the high $200,000s to the mid $300,000s. Duplexes, on the other hand, tend to start in the high $300,000s. Factors such as location, lot size, and garage options can influence pricing for both types of homes.

5. Privacy

While both townhouses and duplexes offer more privacy than apartment buildings and condos, duplexes provide slightly more seclusion due to sharing only one wall with a neighbor. Well-constructed party walls can also contribute to a sense of privacy in both types of homes.

6. Exterior

Duplex owners may have more freedom to make changes to their home’s exterior, as long as they cooperate with their adjoining neighbor. In contrast, townhouse owners typically cannot make architectural or aesthetic alterations to the exterior, ensuring cohesive curb appeal throughout the community.

7. Yard

Townhouses often have limited outdoor space, while duplexes generally have larger, more private yards. This factor is essential to consider for those who value outdoor living, gardening, or play space for children and pets.

8. Maintenance

Townhouse owners usually do not have to worry about exterior maintenance, as it is covered by condo or HOA fees. Duplex owners, on the other hand, are responsible for their own maintenance tasks such as snow removal and lawn care. This aspect can be a deciding factor for those who prefer less responsibility or those who enjoy the freedom of managing their property’s upkeep.


In summary, townhouses and duplexes offer unique advantages and disadvantages for homeowners. Consider factors such as shared walls, fees, size, price, privacy, exterior, yard, and maintenance when deciding which type of multi-family housing is the best fit for your needs. By carefully evaluating these aspects, you can make an informed decision and find the perfect home for your family.