Are you searching for a furnished rental? If you are, you might envision yourself settling in a townhouse in Cambridge, MA. Alternatively, you might see yourself coming home to a chic studio in the Upper East Side. While these types of rentals may well be available, they are just a small corner of the furnished rental industry. Furnished rentals today come in every residential property type. This includes, but isn’t limited to, traditional homes, condos, cottages, in-law apartments, regular apartments, duplexes, flats, and townhouses.
With so many properties to choose from, it can be difficult to decide where to stay. What are the fundamental differences between the various types of furnished rentals? What's the difference between renting a house, a condo, or a flat? And, most importantly, which option is right for you?
If you find yourself asking these questions, don’t worry. We'll go through and underline some of the important pros and cons for each property type. With our guide, you should have no problem finding the perfect rental for your next trip.
The Pros and Cons of Each Property Type
The Property Type: House
- What You're Getting: When you rent a traditional residential house as a furnished rental, you are essentially renting a single-family home. Sometimes, families will decide to rent out their homes while they travel the world or spend seasons in other parts of the world. Other times, real estate investors will buy houses in top tourism markets to get involved in the furnished rental scene.
- The Pros: Houses tend to be spacious and fully appointed with essential features like kitchens, multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, laundry, onsite parking, and more. If you are renting a property for a long-term stay or need space for family and friends, renting a house is the ideal option. Moreover, houses provide their tenants the maximum level of privacy, so you can party or relax all night long.
- The Cons: When you rent a house, your landlord could be on the other side of the country. In other words, you don't have an onsite contact. This means that you're more or less on your own if an emergency arises. You will also pay more for the extra space and privacy that houses offer.
The Property Type: Apartment/Flat
- What You're Getting: In the major cities such as Chicago or L.A., apartments are much easier to come by than houses. Instead of renting from an individual owner, renting an apartment usually means renting from a property management company or a building supervisor. Meanwhile, if you are looking for rentals and flats start appearing, it's probably just a matter of where you're traveling. For all intents and purposes, a "flat" is the British term for an apartment. With no other major differences to speak of, you’ll find the same pros and cons of renting an apartment whenever you book a flat.
- The Pros: The biggest advantages of renting an apartment or a flat are the drawbacks of renting a house. If you are visiting a big city and want to stay close to the vibrant downtown area, then an apartment is your best shot. You will also probably have a property manager or landlord onsite to help you with any questions or emergencies you might have.
- The Cons: Apartments and flats are less spacious than homes and usually less well appointed. There are exceptions, but you might have to sacrifice a kitchen appliance or two if you choose to go the apartment route. You’ll also experience less privacy than in a house, so you’ll have to keep noise to moderate levels.
The Property Type: Condo
- What You're Getting: Both condos and apartments are individual units that exist in a shared building with multiple other tenants. The core difference between condos and apartments, though, is one of ownership. Apartments and flats are often run by property management companies that look to serve specific markets. Condos, on the other hand, are all owned separately by the various owners.
- The Pros: Condos tend to be better cared for than apartments, thanks to the factor of individual ownership. When booking a condo, you can typically expect fancier furniture and more modern appliances. You’ll also find more personality in the interior design, and you can enjoy amenities that you wouldn’t normally find in ordinary rentals. In other words, if you want your creature comforts, condos are the way to go.
- The Cons: One of the big advantages of renting an apartment is that the building supervisor is there to provide maintenance or help you with your questions whenever you need. Condos are more like homes, in that they have one individual owner. As such, you'll be responsible for any maintenance or emergencies that occur during your stay.
The Property Type: Cottage
- What You're Getting: A cottage is typically a small house usually situated in the countryside or near the water. While modernized cottages do exist, they typically offer a more traditional experience, with rustic architecture and design.
- The Pros: Cottages are known for being comfortable, intimate, and cozy. Moreover, cottages are usually located off the beaten path, meaning you’ll never have to deal with noisy neighbors. If you are looking for a relaxing time where you can turn off your phone and enjoy reading on the porch or take walks along the beach, then a cottage is probably ideal.
- The Cons: Cottages are small by definition, which means they might not be the best option if you are traveling with a group. They may also lack amenities that you would receive in modern furnished rentals, such as cable or internet. Staying in a cottage might also not be convenient for people looking to visit tourist attractions.
The Property Type: In-Law Apartment
- What You're Getting: In-law apartments are exactly what it says on the tin: apartments meant for in-laws when they come to visit. These apartments are usually attached to a full residential house. However, these apartments are legally required to have their own entrance, bathroom, kitchen, and living area. As a result, you'll never have to worry about sharing appliances with your landlord.
- The Pros: In-law apartments tend to be on the cheaper end of the rental spectrum. This is because you’ll be staying in close quarters with the property’s owner. The owner is always on hand to answer questions or help with maintenance issues. He or she can also share tips on what to do in the area as well as places to eat and drink. Living in an in-law apartment can be fun for those looking to socialize with landlords and other locals.
- The Cons: Because in-law apartments are usually over the garages of homes, they aren't terribly spacious. These rentals work fine for one or two people but aren't a feasible option for larger groups. In-law apartments also offer less privacy than other rentals. This can become a problem if you don't get along with your landlord.
The Property Type: Townhouse
- What You're Getting: Also known as "row houses," townhouses are conjoined and designed all in a row. This means that tenants usually share at least one wall if not two. The general idea with townhouses is that you lose space horizontally due to the design of the units. However, townhouses often have three floors, meaning the vertical space you’ll get will more than make up for it.
- The Pros: Townhouses are very similar to condos in most ways, save the design. As such, they feature many of the same pros, including the creature comforts that come with individual ownership. Because of their vertical reach, though, townhouses often have more bedrooms and more space than condos.
- The Cons: In condos, you will often have someone above or below you. In townhouses, however, you’ll be sharing walls with your neighbors. Sharing walls tends to be more invasive of privacy. This is because sound usually bleeds through walls more than it does through floors and ceilings. As a result, people sensitive to noise might find this bothersome. Likewise, people looking to host parties might have trouble keeping the noise down.
The Property Type: Duplex
- What You're Getting: When you rent a duplex, you’re essentially renting half a house. Duplexes can take multiple forms and layouts. Some duplexes are houses where one unit is on the ground floor, and one is on the upper floor. Other duplexes have separate units on the right and left sides of the house. Much like in-law apartments, duplexes have their own entrance, kitchen, bathroom(s), bedroom(s), and living spaces.
- The Pros: You get a lot of the advantages of a house (a comfortable living space, onsite parking, a relaxed residential feel, etc.) in a smaller and more affordable package. The duplex arrangement is also perfect if you're traveling with another couple. One group can take one unit, and the other can take the second unit. That way, you maintain privacy while still being together during your stay.
- The Cons: The big drawback of a duplex is sharing a wall or floor/ceiling with someone else. As we discussed above, this arrangement is perfect if you are traveling with another family or couple. However, it can be a problem if your neighbors are loud, disrespectful, or keep different hours from you.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you figure out which property type is right for you. By knowing each property type's pros and cons, you'll know how certain types of rentals can enhance your experience in a new city. If you're wondering whether to stay in furnished rentals, check out our short-term housing guide. You can also check out our eleven favorite fall activities in New York as well as RentCafe's list of free things to do in Los Angeles.