What is a Duplex?

What Does it Mean to Live in a Duplex?

What is a duplex? Moving to a new location can be complicated by real estate terminologies such as multi-family homes, single-unit apartments, and efficiency apartments.

What is a Duplex?

In New York City, a duplex is a single two-story apartment, not a traditional duplex building.

Duplexes are becoming increasingly popular for extended families, and landlords in major cities are taking advantage of this trend.

Here’s what you should know about how duplexes work, how to profit from them, and when it’s a good idea to sell one.

What is a Duplex Apartment?

A duplex is a type of multi-family residence characterized by a structure containing two separate living units. 

These units are situated side by side or stacked on different floors, sharing a common wall. The layout may vary, with each unit occupying either one or two floors of the building.

Each duplex unit has its distinct entrance, and there is no direct internal connection between them. 

Outdoor spaces are either shared between the residents or partitioned for exclusive use if they are available.

The owner can rent out one or both units to occupants. Similar multi-family housing options include triplexes and fourplexes, It feature three and four units within the respective buildings.

Is this Type of Home Right for You?

Renting a duplex instead of another type of home can be tough. 

A duplex has many benefits similar to a regular house, such as a yard, garage, and privacy. 

One advantage is that duplexes are often more affordable than single-family homes because you’re renting only part of the building.

Duplex rentals being more affordable may allow you to secure a better place in a preferable location than you initially considered.

The only catch is that you’ll have a neighbor right next to you, either above or below. 

However, if you value outdoor space and the cozy feel of a home, having a neighbor close by might be a trade-off worth making.

What are the types of Duplexes?

There are several types of duplexes, each with its unique design and layout. Some common types include:

1. Standard Duplex House

This design has two floors connected by stairs. 

The lower floor usually has the living room and kitchen, while the upper floor contains bedrooms and kids’ rooms.

2. Ground Duplex House

These duplexes are on the ground floor of apartment buildings. 

The lower floor faces a garden and has bedrooms, while the upper floor has a living room and kitchen. Good for those who like gardens and have pets.

3. Low-rise Duplex

This type of duplex has spacious balconies and an attic on the second floor. 

These are built over a smaller area compared to other duplex types, and designing them requires careful consideration by architects.

Factors Affecting the Rooms in Duplex Houses

The number of rooms in a duplex house is influenced by a few key factors.

1. Location

Duplex houses in busy city areas are usually smaller compared to those on the outskirts. Smaller houses tend to have fewer rooms.

2. Layout

Duplex houses have a common layout with bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, and a living room on one floor, and a master bedroom on the other. However, some designs allow for more rooms if each room has a smaller area.

What are the Advantages of Living in a Duplex?

What is a Duplex?

Here are some key benefits:

1. Desirable Location at a Lower Cost

Duplexes often provide a more affordable housing option while placing residents in prime locations. 

The shared expenses between the two units contribute to a lower overall cost of living.

This allows individuals or families to access areas that might otherwise be financially challenging.

2. Cost-Effective Maintenance

Living in a duplex comes with the benefit of dividing maintenance costs with neighbors. 

Sharing responsibilities for tasks such as yard work, maintenance, cleaning, and renovations makes property upkeep more cost-effective and efficient. 

This promotes a sense of belonging and accountability.

3. Proximity to Neighbors

In a duplex, you share space with neighbors, which can be advantageous, especially if you have close relationships with them. 

This fosters a sense of community and neighborly support.

This makes it an ideal living arrangement for people who value connections with others.

4. Shared Amenities

Duplexes include shared amenities, which improves the overall living experience. 

Gardens, driveways, and recreational areas are examples of shared spaces that add value and enjoyment to both units. 

This communal use of facilities fosters a sense of community while also contributing to a more enriching way of life.

5. Growing Popularity

Duplex living is gaining popularity compared to more compact housing options like efficiency and studio apartments. 

The appeal lies in the balance it strikes between affordability and space.

This makes it a preferred choice for individuals or families seeking a comfortable and economically viable housing solution.

Disadvantages of Living in a Duplex

Although residing in a duplex has its merits, there are certain drawbacks that some individuals may find less appealing. 

Here are some of the potential downsides:

1. Privacy Concerns

One notable drawback of living in a duplex is the potential for privacy issues. 

In larger duplex buildings, where units are stacked or closely situated, maintaining personal privacy can be challenging. 

Depending on the neighbor, establishing and respecting privacy boundaries becomes important to ensure a comfortable living environment.

2. Shared Spaces

Despite having separate entrances, many duplexes come with shared spaces such as garages and front or back yards. 

This shared access may lead to occasional conflicts or inconveniences, as both parties need to coordinate the use and upkeep of these communal areas. 

Differences in lifestyle and preferences can sometimes create challenges in managing these shared spaces harmoniously.

3. Increased Responsibilities

Unlike apartment buildings where property maintenance is often handled by a hired management team, duplexes are privately owned. 

This means that residents of each unit bear a greater responsibility for maintenance tasks. 

From routine repairs to yard care, occupants may find themselves taking on more responsibilities compared to those living in professionally managed apartment complexes.

4. Noise and Disturbances

The proximity of living spaces in a duplex can contribute to increased sensitivity to noise and disturbances

Sound insulation may vary, and shared walls mean that activities in one unit can affect the peace in the other. 

This can be a source of frustration for those who value a more insulated and serene living environment.

5. Limited Community Amenities

In contrast to expansive apartment complexes, duplexes often lack a diverse array of community amenities that some individuals prioritize. 

Facilities like fitness centers, pools, or recreational areas are more limited in duplex settings.

This potentially influences the overall lifestyle and reduces the variety of recreational options accessible to residents.

Differences Between Duplex and Others

The choice between a duplex, townhouse, condo, or apartment often comes down to your preferences for ownership, community, and lifestyle. 

Each option provides a unique living experience based on your needs and desires.

1. Duplex

A duplex is like a two-in-one house. Picture a building split into two parts. 

One person owns the entire structure, and they decide whether to live in one part and rent out the other or rent out both units and live elsewhere.

It’s a convenient arrangement for someone who wants to be a homeowner and a landlord at the same time. Each unit usually has its own entrance and living space.

2. Townhouse

Townhouses are like a row of houses connected. Each townhouse has its owner, and these owners collectively own their unit’s interior and exterior. 

However, they might share certain facilities like a pool or a common courtyard.

They are great for people who want a place with a bit of community feel. While you own your unit, you’re part of a shared space with your neighbors.

3. Condo

Condos are similar to apartments, but there’s a difference in ownership. 

You own the inside of your unit, but everything outside, like the building structure, common areas, and amenities, is owned by a homeowners association (HOA)

Also, a monthly fee is paid to the HOA for the maintenance of shared spaces.

Generally, they are great for those who want ownership but don’t want to handle all the maintenance tasks.

4. Apartment

In an apartment building, one person, a group of investors, or a corporation owns the entire building. As a tenant, you’re renting a unit within that building.

Apartments are perfect for those who prefer renting instead of owning. 

They offer a wide range of units in a single building, with shared amenities and common areas.

Should I Rent a Duplex Unit?

What is a Duplex?

Renting a duplex is like leasing a home but with the unique aspect of sharing a wall with just one neighbor. 

This arrangement provides more privacy and space compared to an apartment, often with added benefits like outdoor space and in-unit laundry facilities.

However, there are potential drawbacks. Living next to your landlord can have both positive and negative aspects, and unlike apartment complexes, you might not have access to a 24/7 maintenance team.

Affordability varies by location. In high-demand areas like New York City, duplex apartments can be among the priciest rentals, ranging from $2,400 to $15,000 per month. 

On the other hand, in many metro areas, duplexes are often more budget-friendly than standalone houses. 

For example, Rentberry reports average duplex rents of $1,084 in Virginia Beach, $1,887 in Dallas, and $919 in Tallahassee. Even in Los Angeles, a three-bedroom, one-bathroom duplex in Echo Park can be found for $2,795 monthly.

How Do I Find a Duplex Near Me?

To find a duplex in your area, you can use online listing services like Zillow, Redfin, or Trulia. 

Craigslist is another option, although it may need to be more specific. When deciding to rent or buy a duplex, weighing the pros and cons is important. 

Ensure you know your neighbors well before signing a lease. 

If you prefer more privacy and have the financial means, you might also explore the option of renting or buying a single-family home.

Is Buying a Duplex a More Affordable Choice?

It doesn’t matter whether duplexes are more affordable depending on where you live, but generally, buying a duplex is often cheaper than purchasing two separate houses. 

This is because the mortgage for a duplex can qualify as owner-occupied, which can save you money compared to buying a separate investment property.

For example, in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, the average price for a single-family home is $510,000, but there’s a six-bedroom, two-bathroom duplex available for $749,000. 

Similarly, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the typical price for a single-family home is $170,100, while a six-bedroom, two-bathroom duplex is on the market for only $175,000.

In case a traditional house doesn’t quite fit your needs, duplex buildings could be a great alternative. 

It is perfect for tight-knit families and friends. Picture it as having all the comforts of an apartment, but with just two separate units instead of several.

Although it might seem a bit confusing and not exactly like a twin home, it’s worth taking a moment to think about, especially in busy cities. 

Understanding this idea can help you set realistic expectations and, hopefully, avoid any possible problems.

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