Should you buy a townhouse?



The decision to buy a townhouse is one not easily made.

Especially in a country like South Africa, where concerns over crime are ever-present, the idea that you might live in close proximity to others within a heavily-secured complex definitely has its merits.

That is not to say that townhouses are exempt from the prying eyes of burglars and other criminals, but living at such close quarters does give an overwhelming sense that there is “safety in numbers”.

As Roy Rawlins, managing director of ADT Johannesburg, says: “You move into a secure townhouse complex for peace of mind. [Although] people don’t realise there is more to security than living behind high walls, electric fencing and electronic gates with remote control access.

“Written security rules and procedures should be in place and if security in the complex is compromised, everyone should be told.”

That said, the very trait that makes a townhouse appealing to some can also be its worst selling point for others. The reason wealthy individuals choose to live on large estates or smallholdings is because their little piece of paradise is theirs alone, and there is little chance of anyone infringing on their privacy.

Not so with a townhouse. While these domiciles are favoured among young couples as first homes, the economic crunch has meant that they may stay in them longer than they would have 10 or 15 years ago.

As a result, children have become part and parcel of complex life, and homeowners will have to accept that whatever peace they might have imagined will come with a lot of disturbance, albeit completely without malice on the part of the children.

Now, in addition to considering location, safety, transport and poring over repayments on a bond repayment calculator, prospective homeowners need to factor in how much they are willing to have their Saturday afternoons and evenings interrupted by wayward soccer balls and endless running.

Buying any home is a huge commitment, and while the grounds might be exactly what you are looking for, you do need to be aware of the realities.

If you do decide to go this route, and not everybody will, there are several advantages to townhouse living, over and above the aforementioned security aspect.

For one, a lot of townhouse complexes fall under homeowners’ associations, usually comprised of people within the complex as well as outsiders. While each homeowner is required to pay a monthly or yearly stipend, these associations will be responsible for the upkeep of your property, ensuring maintenance on everything from your garden to the paint on your exterior walls.

Such a service would not be available in the event of you owning a different kind of property.

Then there are the communal amenities, such as a swimming pool, tennis court or laundry room. In other circumstances, these amenities would simply not be available to you at home. Essentially you can enjoy these “luxuries” at a much lower cost.