My First Property

Pros And Cons Of Living In A Flat

For many people, their first property is a flat. For those who have been in larger properties before, for instance the parental detached house, then moving into a flat can be quite a surprising and different experience. Here we look at the pros and cons of living in a flat:

The main 'pro' is to do with cost. When you buy a flat as your first home as opposed to a house, then it will almost certainly be cheaper than buying a house in the same location, and possibly the only thing within your price budget as a first-time buyer.

However, there are other significant pros too. For those who are not certain where they want to live, or where they will be living in the future, then there is added flexibility with a flat: for instance if you are a young professional who may well move around with a new company or with the job, then a flat can be more flexible and easier to furnish (particularly if it is smaller) than a house would be. Since there is less space in the flat, there is less space to fill with furniture!

When buying a flat remember the con of the ground floor flat - which is perceived as having worse security compared to the rest of the building - although there is the benefit of no stairs. You will typically find that the price of a ground floor flat might be around 20 percent less than the price of the upper floors. That said ground floor flats can be great for those who have mobility problems, as there are no stairs and the whole of the flat is of course on one floor.

There are various potential cons with buying a flat: you will have more neighbours, and people tend to turnover more quickly than in houses, so you might have dream neighbours when you move in then quickly get noisy people. Particularly noise from the flat above can be very annoying, for instance loud music as you are about to sleep, which is not an issue in the same way if you buy a house where there will typically only be one or two neighbours whose noisiness can affect you.

With a flat it is unlikely you will have any green space to yourself, although this is not impossible. For some this is a positive though not a negative, as there is also no grass cutting to do in the summer. In a flat, typically your bills and insurance and council tax will be less than in a house.

Flats tend to attract a younger demographic, on average, with people moving out to houses when they get a bit older. Therefore if you are (relatively!) old and move to a flat as opposed to a house, then be prepared to be surrounded by younger people.

Another con with buying a flat that most people are wary of is all the associated fees, such as a mandatory building maintenance fee for the year or the very generic sounding "service charge" - to cover ground keeping and building upkeep. There might also be a fee for a parking space, and there may be very few or even none available in some cases. Great care needs to be taken too with how long is left on the leasehold, as you want to be able to get a mortgage and sell in a few years without the length of the lease stopping anyone from buying at a decent price.

In summary, there are many pros and cons to living in a flat as opposed to a house, and the balance that works for you will come down not just to money, but a variety of other factors too, such as how much flexibility you want and how long you anticipate living there.

Last update: 04 Apr 2015

More first-time house buying articles:

  1. Will I Be Able To Get A Mortgage
  2. All about building refurbishment
  3. Living in Central London Pros and Cons
  4. Be Careful How Long Is Left On A Lease
  5. Learning From Buying Your First Home


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