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Flats, Apartments, or condos - what do you choose?

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

We often come across the words flats and apartments. Many use them interchangeably, too. Is there a difference between an apartment and a flat? Let's see!

A flat is a set of rooms in a big building having many other residences. In our country, such a group of rooms/flats is called a society. An apartment is a group of rooms, making one residence only.

The word flat is used in the UK or British English, whereas apartment is used in American English. A flat is a term used in the UK and the Commonwealth nations. During the industrial revolution, many immigrants from rural areas flooded the urban landscape and decided to create an all-encompassing unit with several flats. Interestingly, over some time, many homeowners replaced their independent homes, bungalows, and condo with high-rises, with several flats, giving them good returns by way of rental income.

However, Americans use the word apartment instead of flat. Often, the term apartments label a higher standard of living than flats. We can say apartments were meant for the high-income group and flats for the middle/working class. In American English, apartments are situated in apartment buildings. In British English, flats are seen within a block of flats.

In fact, Malaysians have a clear differentiation between flats and apartments. The flat is used more frequently in Malaysia to define public or affordable housing at a lower price. The apartment is a phrase that has been used in Malaysia as an inclusive word for stratified properties before the word condominium became popular. But, these days, the word apartment refers to more middle-value homes, which can accommodate different income brackets but lack a condominium's wide-ranging amenities.

Though apartments, flats, and condominiums are more or less the same, people term it 'condominium' in Canadian English. The condominium is a Latin word formed by con + dominium, which means 'together ownership.' Hence, its meaning is 'joint dominion' or 'co-ownership.' The American condo or condominium is similar to the British owner-occupied flat. A studio apartment is considered a bedsit, whereas a duplex is a semi-detached house. What the British call a loft is an attic in America.

The American apartments will have a living room, whereas the British flats will have sitting rooms. The clothes are arranged in the American apartment's closet, which is kept in the British flat's cupboard. While the baby sleeps in the crib in the apartment, they sleep on a cot at the flat. The bed is covered in a bedspread in the apartment and a duvet in the flat.

So, is there any difference in quality? Flats often include all the basic amenities required for a happy living. But an apartment provides basic amenities plus luxurious living to its residents.

Flat is often used to refer to middle-class living, and apartment living is considered luxurious.

Also, a flat is spread on one level, and it is considered an apartment when it goes to more levels.


A flat is a set of rooms - 1BHK, 2BHK, or more as a part of a bigger building or a society. An apartment is a customized residence developed in a better locality with several households.

While a flat has one story, an apartment can be multi-storeyed. Flat is sometimes used to refer to low/middle-class accommodation, while apartment refers to lavish and sophisticated living. Low- and middle-class people usually occupy a flat residence, whereas the upper and higher classes own apartments.

Now that you have understood the similarities and differences between flats, apartments, and condominiums, you can make a decision on the type of property you want to invest in.

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