What Is A Duplex And Is It Right For You

When looking for a house, a duplex might be on your radar. Before you decide, ask what is a duplex and is it right for you?

What comes to mind when you think of one? A small apartment building? Each person may define it in a different way.

Let’s define a few things once and for all. 

What Is A Duplex?

What Is A Duplex
MLM Incorporated

A duplex is a house with separate living spaces. Some are renovated homes that have been turned into two homes. The homes are under the same roof, but they’re separate.

Each home in a duplex has a separate entry. You cannot enter or walk through another person’s living space. Duplexes might have a shared utility room like an apartment complex.  

Each living space has a bathroom, kitchen, and one bedroom. Duplex living offers privacy and cheaper rental rates.  

Can I Live In Both Duplex Floors?

Red silo large house duplex 1024x695

You can live on both floors When one tenant occupies the property, it’s a single-family residence.

Related: Types of Houses for Every Lifestyle and Every Budget

Even if there are two entrances, two kitchens, and two living spaces. A duplex is one home with separate tenants. When you occupy the entire home, it’s known as a “former duplex.” 

Can A Duplex Be Renovated?

Red silo large house duplex 1024x695
David Heide Design Studio

This depends if you want to renovate a duplex you own or rent. There are different renovation methods, and you should know about them before you remove a wall or install hardwood floors. 

Renovating Your Duplex As An Owner

Duplex renovation can accommodate a large family. You can add a stairway to the home. The extra kitchen and other rooms are converted into family rooms. One door entrance is removed or turned into a backdoor. 

Renovating Your Duplex As A Renter

If you want to renovate your living space, the rules are the same as an apartment. You talk to your landlord about the changes you want to make to get their approval.

Often, this is covered in your tenant contract. You agree to pay an amount and you are told what is allowed. Small changes are often allowed, like paint color.

What Is The Difference In A Duplex And Other Town Homes?

What Is The Difference In A Duplex And Other Town Homes?
Pavonettie Architecture

Many people confuse homes with duplexes. Each home has a name for a reason. For example, a country home is in the countryside, not the city. What about the differences that are less obvious?


A condo is an apartment duplex fusion. People buy condos, they don’t rent them. It can have more than one owner. The renters who live there have the same landlord. 

Shared areas are common in condos. A duplex will have a yard, but not a courtyard. Tenants prefer more privacy.


Not all townhouses are duplexes but some duplexes are townhouses. Townhouses are connected, but have different owners.

Townhouses are taller. Duplexes are townhouses rented to two families. One family lives on the second floor, while the other lives below.  


An apartment is the most common type of residence in a city. Due to their size, they provide hundreds of living areas in one complex. A duplex has two living spaces.

Property companies and individuals own apartments. Employees help manage the apartments. An owner will take care of the building’s maintenance issues. 

Is A Duplex Right For You?

Is A Duplex Right For You?
Historical Concepts

It depends on your needs. What do you want from your home? Are you considering buying one or looking for a home to rent? After you answer these questions, then you can move forward.

Buying A Duplex

If you want to buy a duplex, will you rent the other half? If you want to live in one, know that you may be the landlord, but you’ll have a neighbor. 

As a landlord, you won’t have as much privacy if you live next to your tenant. 

Living In A Duplex

If you buy a duplex, you will have a close neighbor. Yes, a neighbor in the same house, in a way. They may not disturb you, but most people in won’t try to avoid disturbing you.

When you have an entrance, yard, and your own “house,” you think different. Living in one can save money while you feel like you have an entire home. 

“House hacking” is when you buy a duplex with an FHA loan. The loans are easy to get. First, you buy the property and live in one half while renting the other. 

How Much Does A Duplex Cost?

How Much Does A Duplex Cost?

Like all homes, prices vary according to size and location. You need to decide if you want to buy a duplex or rent. Renting saves money if you rent half of it.

Duplex Cost To Buy

Duplexes cost almost the same as homes or townhouses. If you rent both, you can make your money back on your investment. 

Expect to pay anywhere from $50,000 to $500,000 on an average duplex. This will not be lower, but if you have more to invest, you can get an even nicer home. 

You need to decide if you want to buy or rent a duplex. Renting one saves money if you rent half of it.

Duplex Cost To Rent

Landlords charge tenants one percent of the market value. For example, if they paid $100,000 for the building, their tenants will pay $1,000 per month.

Most landlords allow tenants to split the cost so each family will pay less. This will get renters in your duplex quickly as the payments are lower than renting a home.

Appealing To Renters

Appealing To Renters
 Brandon Architects Inc.

If your plan is to buy a one and rent it, there are a few things you should know. 

Workforce Housing

Workforce housing appeals to a unique demographic. This type of housing should be affordable to the median household income in the area. It includes teachers, construction workers, and other middle-class workers. 

This type of housing should be close to businesses but offer enough privacy to satisfy the worker’s family. Workforce housing isn’t employees living together, it’s an affordable way for families in the workforce to live. 

They often rent these homes because they want to live in the area short-term. 

Triple Net (NNN)

NNN allows you to rent your home and have them be responsible for all expenses while you are the owner. They simply live in the house.

Because they are responsible for expenses, they can act as a property manager, leaving you with nothing but passive income. Everything is under contract to so there is little to no risk in using a NNN investment. 

How To Find A Duplex To Rent

How To Find A Duplex To Rent
Jim Jose

Finding a duplex to rent is like searching for anything else. The problem is that apartments use the space in search results if you don’t know how to search properly. It’s important to weed out results you don’t want. 

One of the best ways to find one is to search for multi-family homes. Searching for them won’t work, so a backup is necessary.

You can hire a realtor to help find one. Many landlords keep close contact with realtors, so they know when duplexes become available.  

If you need resources, then look no further, because here are all of the best places to find homes to rent online. When searching online, add “duplex” or “multi-family to your filters.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Can I build a duplex for profit?

Yes, you can. It will depend on where you want to build it, so do your research. They don’t have HOA fees and are easy to manage, which makes them great investments.

It is easier to afford because you can buy one with an FHA loan.