Whether you're a college student moving away from home for the first time or you're out in the working world and looking for a place to rent, there are several options on the housing market. Your personal needs and budget will often dictate what kind of housing you get, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each type. Generally, homes -- including mobile homes -- bring more space and privacy, while an apartment costs less to rent and to maintain.
A "stick-built" home, one that is firmly attached to the ground, generally costs more to rent than an apartment. A mobile home's rent usually is about the same as or a little more than an apartment, though location and condition can change these numbers around. A home or mobile home might allow for roommates more feasibly than an apartment, allowing you to split some of the rental costs. Utilities also could cost more in a house or mobile home because of the larger space. Mobile homes are not as airtight as an apartment or stick-built house, so that may jack up your heating and air-conditioning costs even more.
A one-bedroom apartment usually carries about 600 to 800 feet of floor space, which is much smaller than most homes. Small houses commonly start at about 1,000 square feet. A small 66-foot-long mobile home has a little more than 900 feet of interior space, and even the smallest ones usually have two bedrooms. An apartment usually has no yard and there's often no place to sit on the porch, while homes can offer both amenities.
With all rental properties, most repairs fall on the owner. This could mean anything from fixing a toilet to replacing a door, but some landlords may be slow about repairs. Apartments usually provide lawn care. With a stick-built or mobile home that has a yard, you may have to tend the lawn yourself, and your landlord may strictly enforce its upkeep.
Neighbors and Privacy
While the type of neighbors you get depends on the area, in an apartment you're in close quarters with many of them. You'll often hear your neighbors, particularly any that live directly above you. If you value your sleep, the neighbor's stereo might keep you awake -- although most apartment buildings have noise restrictions that might help control such problems. With a home, you usually will have more privacy, any yard space serving as a buffer between buildings.
Because of space and proximity to neighbors, apartments often have more stringent rules than a home. You might not be able to keep a pet or modify the interior, for example, while the landlord for a home may be more flexible in such policies. In an apartment you'll likely have more restrictions on having friends stay over than with a home.
Al Bondigas is an award-winning newspaperman who started writing professionally in 1985. His print credits include the "Mohave Valley Daily News" and "The Mohave County Standard." Bondigas studied journalism at San Bernardino Valley College in California.