Sometimes you have to make a choice between buying an independent house or a flat. You may be buying to use it as your primary residence (family home) or as an investment –you get rent or store value.
In today’s discussion, flat also loosely refer;
- An apartment
- Garden flats
- Gated community
And Independent house refers to your normal house that stands alone whether in high density, medium density or low density. The main difference with flats is that an independent house will largely stand on its own or if attached its only to one house. Our definition of flat here refers to units in one gated community or in a high rise building.
Words may fail me put will the pics below fail me? No they will not!!!!!
Whether it is a flat or an independent house, the following are the broad influences on your choice;
- Stage in life- is your family a new and small family? Retired? Large family?
- Do you want to be close to work?
- First job? New to a town?
Flats/Apartment complexes/Gated Community
One location in Harare that has the highest number of flats per square meter is Avondale. Avondale has flats I tell you!!!!And also the Avenues area!! Both Avondale and The Avenues are closer to the CBD and this is strategic to those who want to walk to town or take less time to be in town.
- One big advantage of living in a flat or apartment is the availability of several layers of added security, especially in a gated complex. There is usually a guard at the gate, a code to get into the building, CCTV cameras around the entrance.
- The cost of maintaining or running the flats is shared and thus cost is reduced compared to a house that is independent. The difference is mainly due to the reduced area the flat sits on and also that the cost of security, refuse collection and care taker is shred through the residence association.
- Assist you enjoy luxuries like swimming pools, gym and tennis courts-these services you may not afford on your own on an independent house.
- Limited or no room to make modifications to the exteriors of your home or future plans like subdivisions, extension or constructing a cottage.
- Limited space to develop interests such gardening, rearing smaller farm animals or pets like dogs- the Association may object.
- Contagion effect- the value of a property is affected by the neighbour and with flats or apartments, the neighbours are too close. This another big issue with this set up. Bad practices by one flat owner will have a negative effect on the rest. See the issue with flats in Mbare- plumbing challenges on one flat affects the whole block, clothes hanging from windows, or even artists who paint those big imposing artworks –another menace is the dumping of refuse.
- Arguments and huddles if the residence association constitution is not dynamic and clear. Some issues may not be clear and broadly covered such that misunderstandings are the order of the day.
- Privacy at risk as you share compound
Gated communities or garden flats were developed to combine the advantages of flats and houses.
Zimbabweans by nature desire a place of their own-yes home is not a place but a feeling. This partly explains the advent of many housing locations where in some instances neighborhood planning is not very organised.
- Freedom to do a garden (loads of lawn, flowers, trees and birds), keep pets and other small animals.
- Huge playground and garden to sit in for relaxation
- Room to extend the house, subdivide or construct a cottage as per latest trends and thus earn additional income .
- More privacy .
- You can earn additional income from that small garden whether veggies or flowers. Be careful to observe by-laws on animal rearing especially chicken rearing.
- You have your own constitution!!! It’s your planning that will determine your cleanliness (refuse collection)
- No sharing of costs and thus high -Security and maintenance costs. Security is thus a concern and the bigger the stand, the high the budget for maintaining the garden.
- Swimming pool, gym and other facilities costs will be yours alone and thus no one to share with.
- Security arrangements required when you travel.
So when you make a choice remember whether it’s a flat or an independent home, Home is not a Place , It is a Feeling.
Thanks for your time.
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Next time will assist you chose an Estate Agent- who in Zimbabwe? How do you choose?