The Difference Between Villas, Condos, Townhomes, and Single-Family Homes

The Difference Between Villas, Condos, Townhomes, and Single-Family Homes

There’s no place like home. But what type of place will make you feel at home? There are so many styles.

You may be looking at villas and condos, or perhaps a townhouse. You might even be wondering about the difference between a villa and condo or other home structures.

We have a quick guide that will explain the different home styles so you can decide which one is right for your lifestyle and needs.

The Difference Between Villas and Condos

Some people use the words “villa” and “condo” interchangeably. However, they are actually different when it comes to structure and purpose.

What Is A Villa?

villa is a one-level structure, often with an exterior patio and front garden or terrace. They may share at least one common wall with a neighboring villa or be detached. 

Villas have a history that dates back to the Roman Empire. In fact, the proper name for these homes is “Roman villas.” 

They were mainly built on the country estate of upper-class Romans. You are probably familiar with the Tuscan style villa, which became popular throughout Europe.

In those days, the villa might have elaborate pools, gardens, farmlands, and other buildings surrounding the villa. Today’s villas are still generally found more in the suburbs rather than urban centers. 

Villas are built to house a single family, rather than multiple families like a condo. They are often part of gated communities with similar style homes. They also have the same maintenance and insurance requirements as a townhome or house.

If the villa is part of a gated community, there may be a homeowner’s association (HOA). You pay an HOA fee in return for the maintenance of shared spaces and amenities, such as a community pool, fitness center, landscaping, playground, and security. 

What Is A Condo?

By contrast, a condominium is one unit that is part of a larger building. With a condo, you don’t own the land or buildings.

A condo association maintains it all. The association generally requires a fee for upkeep and maintenance of communal areas, such as parking lots, pools, and hallways.

Condos can range from minimalist to luxury style with 5-star amenities, such as gorgeous pools, tennis courts, a spa, high-end fitness center, a lobby, and 24-hour security.

Patio Homes

A patio home features an attached, one-story structure, with at least one shared wall. You generally see them in clusters of 3-4 homes. They may also be called cluster homes, garden homes, garden villas, courtyard homes, cottages, or club homes.

They are usually also part of an HOA with shared common areas and amenities.


With a townhome, you own the outside structure and the inside unit. These structures often have similar features as a home, including a garage.

However, they share at least one wall with another unit. The driveway might be shared as well.

You are responsible for the upkeep of the grounds included in your property, such as the front and back yard. There may also be shared common areas that are part of a larger HOA, such as pools, fitness centers, and a clubhouse.

What About a Duplex?

You’ve probably heard of a duplex before, but do you understand what it means?

In the real estate world, a duplex is a single residential structure that features two separate living spaces. A common wall separates the two. They may be classified as residential, multi-family, or commercial on real estate lists.

Two different people can own the units. In some cases, the same person owns both units, but they live in one and rent out the other. 

Duplexes are usually designed to be mirror images of each other. This means you will find the same layout in both units, although the features are reversed. 

Moving up to a Single Family Home

If you are ready to move up to the next level of homeownership, a single-family home might be your move. 

A single-family home is a freestanding structure that sits on its own land. It is designed for one family rather than the multi-family structure of a condo.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a single-family house is one that is fully detached, semi-detached, a row house, or a townhome. In order to qualify as a single-family home, it must be separated from the adjacent unit by a “ground-to-roof” wall. 

There are many different styles of single-family homes, from one story ranch to 3-story Victorian mansion. The style you choose should align with your tastes, preferences, and needs.

Styles of homes:

Cape Cod – This style is popular in the northeast and inspired by thatched-roof cottages found in England. They have two floors, with steep roofs and large chimneys to help withstand the bitter winters. There are windows flanking the front door with a dormer window above it.

Country French – This style became popular in the 18th century when much of the northern part of the U.S. was occupied by France. They are 1-story structures with windows that are paired with shutters, steep-pitched roofs, stucco walls, and a half-timbered frame.

Colonial – This style can have two or three stories, with fireplaces, and a brick or wood façade. The kitchen and family room are on the first floor, with bedrooms on the upper floors.

Victorian – These homes were originally built during the Victorian Era (1860-1900). They are highly romanticized with many architectural details, colors, textures, and patterns. Of course, Victorian-style homes are still built today, but they still have many of these same features. 

Craftsman – The style features a low-pitched roof with wide eave overhangs, exposed roof rafters, and decorative beams or braces under gables. They also have a wide porch framed by square columns.

Ranch – This type of home has one story, with a simple floor plan, attached garage, and large living spaces. It’s a very typical style in the suburbs.

Find Your New Villa, Condo, or Home

Buying a new home is one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make. Whether you’re looking at villas and condos or a larger single-family home, there is something to suit your needs. It’s important to do your research so you can determine which will work for your family.

Need more information? Be sure to check out our site for luxury listings in your area or to learn more about real estate.