Renting a House vs. Renting an Apartment

While browsing Section 8 housing options, applicants must decide which type of property is best for their current and future needs. This often means choosing between low-income apartments and houses available for rent. These housing options differ widely from one another in several ways, including size, layout, location and price. Some applicants may fit into either property type, but in many cases one option is more beneficial than the other.

When deciding between renting an apartment or a house, applicants must consider several factors. Section 8 houses for rent are often better for families, especially those with young children. Alternatively, single tenants and couples can save by renting apartments with the help of their housing vouchers. New program initiatives even allow beneficiaries to use their benefits on rent-to-own homes. No matter which option they choose, the Housing Choice Voucher Program helps applicants to secure affordable homes that fit their lifestyles. 

Learn About Section 8 Housing Options: Houses vs Apartments

While browsing the Section 8 housing lists, you are likely to find two main property categories: single-family homes and apartments. There are also several different types of apartments and houses covered under the housing voucher program. While both main options provide affordable housing for program applicants, they differ in several ways. Common differences between houses and apartments include:

  • Price, from rent to utilities.
  • Size, from square footage to the number of bedrooms.
  • Location.
  • Amenities.
  • Responsibilities as a tenant.

These differences between Section 8 apartments and houses can play a factor in which type of property is best for you and your family, so it is important to take them into consideration. For example, apartments often work best for small families, couples and individual tenants, given the smaller square footage. Alternately, houses are suitable for larger households but often have higher costs as a result. Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of each option during your search for the perfect residence. 

The Benefits of Section 8 Houses for Rent

Low-income house rentals offer a lot of advantages to tenants, particularly for families. Most importantly, program applicants with children can rent a home that is large enough to accommodate the whole family comfortably. Renting a house also brings other benefits, as well, such as the following:

  • Extra space. Some house rentals often include a garage and yard for extra storage, as well as a driveway for personal vehicles.
  • Privacy. Unlike apartment-style housing, most houses are separated from neighboring properties. That way, tenants do not have to worry as much about privacy and noise complaints.
  • Personalization. Many apartments have strict rules about painting or decor within the unit. Alternatively, landlords often give tenants more freedom over house rentals.
  • Location. Section 8 house listings are usually found in the neighborhoods of suburbs and small cities. Areas like this allow children the freedom to play outside without worrying as much about city traffic.
  • Private amenities. With the extra space available, house rentals usually provide all of the appliances tenants need. This includes washers and dryers for clothing, as well as dishwashers.

The Benefits of Renting a Section 8 Apartment

Apartments that accept Section 8 have their own benefits for the right tenants. Like houses, apartments are available in varying sizes, although they are generally smaller. Options like single-room efficiencies and studios are available to accommodate individual tenants who require less room. The ability to give up unnecessary space allows program applicants to save even more on rent with their housing vouchers. Additional benefits of renting an apartment include the following:

  • More security. Apartment buildings generally have more security measures in place than private houses, including lobby cameras and security guards.
  • Less clutter. Smaller square footage means less room for unnecessary clutter and furniture. This makes cleaning the unit quicker and easier. 
  • Lower utilities. Due to the limited space and surrounding apartments, it is easier to regulate the temperature in the unit and save electricity. Some apartments even bundle water or electricity costs into the rent for additional savings.
  • Communal amenities. While apartments may lack certain private amenities, they usually make up for it in communal areas. This often includes onsite pools, gyms and laundry facilities. 
  • Location. Section 8 apartment listings show most apartment rentals in highly populated areas, like cities. As a result, tenants can often take advantage of shorter commute times and access to public transportation.

Discover the Section 8 Homeownership Program

Your future plans are another important factor to consider when choosing between an apartment and a house rental. If you eventually plan to settle down in an area, you may want to consider rent-to-own houses, rather than apartments. In recent years, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, expanded the housing voucher program to help first-time homebuyers and renters. Through this expansion, applicants who qualify can put their housing vouchers toward rent-to-own properties and down payment savings. 

However, the Section 8 Homeownership voucher is not available everywhere. Your local public housing agency (PHA) must opt into the program for you to access it in your area. You can also learn about transferring your benefits to another PHA if you meet certain qualifications. If you are eligible, you can move to a PHA that offers this homeownership initiative. The PHA may also impose additional requirements, such as attending homeownership counseling. With the help of this initiative, you can go from renter to homeowner over time.

Which low-income housing option is right for you?

Overall, finding your perfect home on the Section 8 housing lists requires you to examine your specific needs. Each property type has its own pros and cons, but only you can determine the right residence for your household. Whether you fit into an apartment or house mostly depends on your household size. After that, you must decide how you prioritize other housing aspects, such as:

  • Budgetary restrictions.
  • Number of bedrooms required.
  • Needs for additional storage space.
  • Location in reference to work, stores and other needs.
  • Access to amenities.

In order to explore the different options available, the housing voucher program provides several resources. For example, you can use the HUD search tool to see properties that are available in your desired area. Additional assistance is provided by your local PHA.