Houses Vs Apartments: Which Is Safer? 4 min read

Crime rates have been rising since 2015 and natural disasters have increased by a factor of 5 over the past 50 years. This leads many people to wonder whether houses or apartments are safer. 

In this article, we’ll look into multiple dimensions of safety. This includes assessing the dangers of criminal activities, natural disasters, fires breaking out, and structural integrity. We’ll also suggest the best ways to stay safe, whether that is in a house or an apartment. 

Summary

Houses are often safer during earthquakes and fires and are easier to evacuate than apartments. Apartments are less prone to burglary than houses and may provide more protection during hurricanes or tornadoes than houses. The safety of houses and apartments depends on their location and proneness to natural disasters. 

House vs apartment: what are the safety differences?

Safety is a broad term that covers several aspects of wellbeing. There are four main categories that planners, inspectors, insurance agents, and homeowners should be aware of: 

  1. Crime 
  2. Natural disasters
  3. Fires 
  4. Structural safety
Earthquakes can be particularly devastating for apartment blocks.

These are universal concerns whether you’re living in a mansion, a condominium, an old brownstone, a co-op, a villa, or a cabin in the mountains. 

To assess the actual safety profile of a property, all of these parameters need to be analyzed. 

1. Crime

Apartments are traditionally thought of as being safer than houses due to being secured access. Posh buildings with security guards are much harder to break into than houses located in quiet areas. 

However, there are many houses in gated compounds as well. Additionally, there are tons of regular apartment buildings that lack basic security measures. 

But in general, apartments are subject to less crime than stand-alone houses in middle-class neighborhoods. This is due to the geometry of the place, ease of access, and the availability of public areas where neighbors move about. Stand-alone houses are more vulnerable in all three points. 

Apartments will often require keys to get into the building as well as the unit.

2. Natural Disasters

Earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes affect buildings in varying degrees. An earthquake would be felt more severely in a highrise than in a two-floor villa. 

Contrary to that, hurricanes and tornadoes could be much harder on stand-alone houses than solid concrete apartment buildings.

Structures with wood or glass might be more dangerous during natural disasters than ones with more sturdy exteriors. This matter applies to both apartment buildings and houses.   

Additionally, there’s the essential factor of evacuation under duress. Clearly, elevators become entirely unusable during earthquakes. And even going down the stairs might not be feasible. Houses are much safer in that case, as they’re far easier to evacuate.  

3. Fires

The probability of fires breaking out is far higher in buildings with multiple tenants than it is in single-family houses. With so many apartments sharing one building, the risk for fires becomes greater. 

To minimize this risk, buildings have strict requirements related to smoke detection and fire fighting. However, the Grenfell Tower disaster is an example of how building regulations sometimes fail to adequately protect tenants.  

Additionally, putting out a fire in a house is usually much easier than in an apartment building. The difficulty level increases if the fire breaks out in higher floors. A similar difficulty occurs if a house is built on a high ridgel or if it is surrounded by narrow streets. 

4. Structural Safety 

Buildings don’t fall every day, but they occasionally do, and that makes people always wary of structural safety. 

Apartment buildings are more prone to having structural errors than houses. Also, they could incur serious vulnerabilities over time due to a lack of maintenance

Other natural factors could also compromise the integrity of the building, such as the salty humid air near the ocean, earthquakes, and hurricanes.   

Houses are often much easier to maintain. Especially, since there’s only one decision-maker who needs to handle these matters. With multiple tenants, reaching a consensus and making sure everyone pays their dues isn’t as easy. 

security: houses vs apartments

Apartments are frequently located in gated compounds, making them far more secure. For example, most complexes would provide inhabitants with access cards and stickers to identify their automobiles. 

Visitors and guests must first pass by security, who will ask permission from the inhabitants before allowing them to enter. Overall, the security features are superior to what one may find in a home.

There are exceptions, of course, and a house situated in a gated compound would have the same advantage as an apartment. Moreover, installing an elaborate security system is an individual choice. It can be done in both houses and apartments. 

Fire risks: which is safer?

The possibility that a fire might break out in a house depends on the behavior of the family living in that house, the fire detection system, and the soundness of the electrical wiring in the house. 

An apartment building contains multiple households, each one of them having the same risk factors as that of a house. 

So a building with 50 flats often has 50 times more risk than a house. On top of that, there are some risks inherent to the building itself, like electrical wiring, the standby generator, or central heating and air conditioning systems. 

Evacuating a building full of people during a fire is often so difficult. Thus, a better approach is always to minimize the possibility of a fire breaking out. 

Evacuation is particularly tough for high-rise apartment blocks.

The best way to do that is by applying the relevant codes and complying with the government recommendations regarding fire safety.  

How to Make Houses & Apartments Safer

The safety of a house or an apartment should cover the four main categories mentioned above. Crime, natural disasters, fires, and structural safety. 

Here are some tried and true tips to maximize the safety of your property: 

  • Install a reliable security system inside and outside your property. 
  • If you live in a remote area, it would be best to be armed. 
  • A big dog in the backyard, or living room, often scares away trespassers.  
  • If you still haven’t bought a property, consider a house or flat in a gated community. 
  • Steer clear from buildings where there are few tenants. 
  • Avoid buildings where the flats are constantly sub-let to shady strangers. 
  • If you have a small family, try not to go too far away from the city’s edge. 
  • Make sure that your property can withstand the climatic and seismic nature of the area. 
  • Don’t ever live in a place that turns into a trap during natural disasters. 
  • Check the availability of emergency exits. 
  • Make sure that the apartment building council performs comprehensive routine maintenance regularly.
  • Install fire and smoke detectors in your property. 
  • If you can install a sprinkler system, don’t hold back. 
  • Place working fire extinguishers in the kitchen, basement, and attic. 
  • Get an insurance company to conduct an in-depth inspection of your house.  

In Conclusion

There are many factors that go into analyzing safety, and neither apartments nor houses are superior in every category. 

There are many ways where houses seem to be the more rational choice; like the ease of evacuation, easier maintenance, and lower risk of structural failure. 

On the other hand, apartments are much more challenging for burglars and interlopers. They’re also more sturdy in the face of hurricanes and tornadoes. 

So the answer is: it depends on what sort of safety you care most about! 

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