An apartment is a housing unit that is self-contained that is only part of a building, normally on a single level. These buildings may be called apartment complex, apartment buildings, tower block, high rise, especially if there are many apartments that are for rent. Apartments are often owned by an owner or occupier, by a lease, or rented by tenants.

There are some apartment dwellers who own their units, either as a co-op, where the resident owns shares of a corporation that owns the development or building or in a condominium, which is where residents own their apartment and have shared ownership of the public areas. Many apartments are located in buildings that were specifically designed for housing, but sometimes there are older yet large homes that are divided into apartments. The word apartment means a residential section or unit in a building. There are some locations that the word is a rental unit owned by a building owner and it isn’t meant for a condominium.

There are parts of world where an apartment is talking about a residential unit that is self-contained that is located within a building, where a flat is a converted self-contained unit located in an older building. A loft is normally a warehouse, industrial or commercial space that has been converted into an apartment, but there are modern lofts that are built to be that way. Apartments that consist on the top floor of a high rise apartment building is known as a penthouse.

Types of Apartments

Studio Apartments

This is the smallest self contained apartment. They are often called bachelor, studio or efficiency apartments. These units normally have a large single main room that acts as the dining room, living room and even the bedroom and will also include a kitchen facility, that has a smaller bathroom that is separate.

From this, there is a smaller unit that is often one bedroom that makes the bedroom separate from the rest of the apartment, then you have your two and three bedroom apartments. Small apartments will only have just one entrance.

Large apartments will normally have 2 entrances, whether it be in the back, front or from an attached or underground parking structure. Depending on how the building is designed, the entrance door may be connected to a common area or directly to the outside.

Garden Apartment

Depending on the region, a garden apartment may be defined differently. In some areas, a garden apartment complex is a magnet rise apartment building that are built to have landscape grounds that surround the building. The apartments are often arranged around unique courtyards that will be open at one end. These garden apartments often have certain characteristics that are shared with a townhouse. Each apartment will have its own entrance or it will share an entrance through a staircase and have a lobby that joins the units together. Each apartment has only one level and garden apartments are normally not higher than 3 stories as they do not have elevators. There are some garden apartments that will have a one car garage under the apartment.

Secondary Suite

When part of a home is converted for use of a family member, the unit may be called mother-in-law quarters, in-law apartment, although many times these apartments are illegally created and occupied by regular renters instead of family members. These are often found in the basement of many homes.


These maisonettes are often called little houses as they may be used to distinguish homes that have their own entrance that is independent from the rest of a multistory building. This is different from a regular apartment, which are normally reached through a shared entrance, hallways, or stairs. There are also maisonettes that will occupy a floor of a building, as well as designs that include the cottage flats.

Two-Story Flat

Most apartments are on 1 level, which is why they are called flats. An apartment that has over 1 level with its staircase is called a duplex. There are a lot of penthouses that have this design. The use of this term comes from converting 2 units into 1 by installing a private staircase. The two units are often called townhouses.

Loft Apartment

This apartment type was made in North America during the 20th century. The term was used to describe a living space that was within an old industrial building from he 19th century. It is these types of apartments are great for musicians and artists who want to find accommodation in large cities such as New York City, and is often related to the unused buildings in decaying parts of large cities that are occupied by illegal people who are living there, often called squatters. These loft apartments were normally found in former high rise warehouses as well as factories that were vacated after economic conditions and town planning rules during the 20th century had changed. This caused apartments to be created with the new bohemian lifestyle and were arranged in different ways from many of the urban living spaces, which include art studio and workshop spaces. Because old buildings that were suitable for this has finally dried up, there have been many developers that have responded by creating new buildings that have the same look with different success levels.

Facilities and Amenities

Apartments may be rented unfurnished, where you have to bring your own furniture, furnished, where the apartment has furniture. There are even serviced apartments that are great for shorter stays that have kitchen utensils and soft furnishings as well as maid services.

Laundry facilities may be in a common area that is accessible for all tenants, or every apartment may have their own laundry facilities. Depending on the design and when the building was built, utilities like heating, electric, water may be common for apartments or it could be separate for each apartment and billed to the tenant. There may also be outlets for telephone connections. Home telephone services are in fact optional and is often billed by the telephone company separately from the rent. Cable and internet will normally cost extra. Some areas may not have parking spaces, air conditioners, or even extra storage but some may include these services. Rental leases may limit who and how many people are in each apartment.