What is the difference between Flat and Apartment | Flat vs Apartment

By : Silky Malhotra

09 August, 2023

The terms "flat" and "apartment" are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion for many property buyers and renters. However, there are subtle differences between the two that can impact your living experience. In this article, we will explore the key difference Between Flat and Apartment, helping you make an informed decision when choosing your next residence.

Definition: Flat vs. Apartment

The primary distinction between a flat and an apartment lies in the regional variations of their use. In some countries, especially the United Kingdom and India, the term "flat" is commonly used to refer to a self-contained housing unit within a larger building, usually a multi-story residential complex. On the other hand, in the United States and many other countries, the term "apartment" is widely used to describe similar self-contained housing units.

What is a Flat?

A flat is typically a self-contained housing unit within a larger building, and its primary characteristic is that it occupies a single floor. Flats are commonly found in low-rise or mid-rise buildings, usually up to four to five storeys. These buildings may not have elevators, and residents have direct access to their flats from the ground level.

Key Characteristics of Flats:

Single Storey: Flats occupy a single floor, meaning no stairs or elevators are within the unit.

Limited Amenities: Flats in low-rise buildings may have limited amenities compared to high-rise apartments.

Access from Ground Level: Residents can access their flats directly from the ground level, which can be convenient for some.

More Common in Older Buildings: Flats are often found in older buildings not initially designed for elevator installation.

What is an Apartment?

Apartments, on the other hand, can occupy multiple storeys within a building, and they are commonly found in high-rise residential complexes. Apartments in high-rise buildings can range from a few storeys to dozens of storeys and provide stunning views for residents.

Key Characteristics of Apartments:

Multiple Storeys: Apartments can occupy multiple storeys within a building, often accessed by elevators and staircases.

Modern Amenities: High-rise apartment complexes typically offer a wide range of modern amenities, such as fitness centres, swimming pools, and security services.

Stunning Views: Apartments on higher storeys offer panoramic views of the surrounding city or landscape.

Lift Access: Elevators are common in apartment buildings, making it easier for residents to access their units on higher floors.

Choosing Between Flats and Apartments:

The decision between living in a flat or an apartment often comes down to personal preferences, lifestyle, and budget. Here are some things you must consider while choosing which suits you.

Location and Size

Both Flat and Apartment can be found in various locations, ranging from city centres to suburban areas. They may differ in size, with some apartments being more spacious and luxurious, while flats may be more compact and affordable. However, these variations are not exclusive to either term and depend on the specific property and its location.

Ownership and Tenancy

In terms of ownership, flats and apartments can be both owned and rented. Some individuals prefer to buy a flat as an investment or a permanent residence, while others may rent an apartment for a short or long-term stay. The distinction between the two lies in the regional and cultural use of the terms rather than their ownership or tenancy characteristics.

Building Type

Another key difference between flats and apartments lies in the type of building they are located in. Flats are often associated with older, more traditional buildings, especially in countries where the term "flat" is commonly used, such as the UK and India. These buildings may have fewer amenities and facilities compared to modern apartment complexes.

On the other hand, apartments are often found in more modern, purpose-built residential complexes. These buildings usually offer a range of amenities such as fitness centres, swimming pools, and security services, catering to the demands of urban living.

Architectural Style

The architectural style of flats and apartments can also vary based on their regional use. Flats in older buildings may have more traditional designs and features, while apartments in contemporary complexes tend to have modern and sleek designs.

Maintenance and Facilities

When it comes to maintenance and facilities, apartments in modern complexes generally offer a higher level of service. Property management companies often oversee maintenance tasks and provide 24/7 assistance. On the other hand, flats in older buildings may require more personal involvement in maintenance and repair tasks.

Pricing and Affordability

Pricing and affordability can vary widely for both flats and apartments, depending on their location, size, amenities, and overall demand in the market. In some cases, flats may be more affordable due to their association with older buildings or less developed areas. Apartments in modern complexes with various facilities may command higher prices.

Cultural and Regional Variations

As mentioned earlier, the distinction between flats and apartments largely depends on the regional and cultural use of the terms. In countries where "flat" is the common term, such as the UK and India, using the term "apartment" may not be as prevalent, and vice versa in countries where "apartment" is widely used.

The distinction between flats and apartments by storeys revolves around the number of floors they occupy within a building. Flats are generally single-storey units found in low-rise buildings, while apartments can span multiple storeys in high-rise complexes. When making your choice between the two, consider your lifestyle preferences, accessibility needs, and the amenities that best suit your living requirements. Ultimately, both flats and apartments offer unique living experiences, and the decision comes down to finding the perfect match for your urban lifestyle.

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A "Builder Floor" is a term used in the real estate industry to describe a type of residential property that is constructed by a builder on a single floor of a building. Unlike apartments, builder floors typically occupy an entire floor of a low-rise building and come with a separate entrance and exclusive access to common areas, such as the staircase or elevator.

Key Characteristics of Builder Floors:

Individual Floor Ownership: In the case of a builder floor, the ownership of a single floor belongs to the buyer, allowing them to have more control and independence over their living space.

Limited Number of Floors: Builder floors are usually found in low-rise buildings, typically up to three or four storeys. Each floor is designed as an independent residential unit, with only one or two units per floor.

Separate Entrances: One of the defining features of builder floors is that they come with a separate entrance from the ground level, providing a sense of privacy and exclusivity to the residents.

Customisation and Design: Builder floors often offer greater flexibility for customisation and interior design compared to apartments in larger residential complexes.

Ownership of Land: In some cases, buyers of builder floors may also have ownership of a proportionate share of the land on which the building stands, allowing them to have more control over the property.

Difference Between Builder Floor and Apartment:

Number of Floors: The most significant difference between a builder floor and an apartment lies in the number of floors. Builder floors are typically located in low-rise buildings with only a few floors, while apartments are found in mid-rise or high-rise buildings, spanning multiple storeys.

Independence and Privacy: Builder floors offer a greater sense of independence and privacy since they occupy an entire floor with a separate entrance. In contrast, apartments share common entrances and corridors, making them more community-oriented.

Amenities and Facilities: Apartments in larger residential complexes often offer a wide range of amenities and facilities, such as swimming pools, gyms, playgrounds, and clubhouse areas. In contrast, builder floors may have limited or no common facilities, as they are usually in smaller, individual buildings.

Customization: Builder floors offer more flexibility for customization and interior design, allowing residents to tailor their living space according to their preferences. Apartments in larger complexes may have more standardized layouts and designs.

Cost: In general, builder floors tend to be more expensive per square foot than apartments in larger complexes, mainly due to their exclusive nature and limited availability.

Which One to Choose?

The decision to choose between a builder floor and an apartment should be based on your individual preferences, lifestyle, as well as budget.

Builder FloorsIf you value independence, privacy, and the opportunity to customize your living space, a builder floor may be the right choice. However, keep in mind that they might come with a higher price tag and fewer amenities.

ApartmentsApartments are suitable for those seeking a sense of community, a wide range of amenities, and potentially a more affordable option. They are ideal for individuals or families who prefer a more communal living experience.

Ultimately, both builder floors and apartments have their own set of advantages, and the choice will depend on what aligns best with your living preferences and requirements. It is advisable to carefully evaluate the location, amenities, pricing, and layout before planning. Consulting with a real estate professional can also help you make an informed choice based on your specific needs and preferences.

Plot Vs Flat: Which is a better investment for buyers

Deciding between investing in a plot of land or a flat (apartment) depends on various factors and individual preferences. Both options offer distinct advantages and considerations for investors. Let us explore the key aspects of each to help you make an informed decision:

Investing in a Plot:


Potential for Higher Returns: Plots of land, especially in developing or rapidly urbanizing areas, have the potential for higher capital appreciation over time. As the demand for real estate grows, the value of the land may increase significantly.

Flexibility in Use: Buying a plot provides you with the flexibility to utilize it for different purposes, such as building a residential or commercial property, depending on the local zoning regulations and your long-term investment goals.

Lower Maintenance Costs: Unlike flats, plots do not require maintenance or upkeep costs. You will not have to deal with issues related to property management, tenants, or common area maintenance.

Potential for Development: Investing in a plot allows you to develop the land according to your preferences or market demand, offering potential value-add opportunities.


Lack of Immediate Income: Unlike flats, which can generate rental income from day one, investing in a plot may not yield immediate returns unless you choose to use it for agricultural or other income-generating purposes.

Development Challenges: Developing the land may involve time-consuming processes, such as obtaining necessary permits, licenses, and approvals from local authorities.

Market Demand: The potential for higher returns heavily relies on the market demand and the growth prospects of the area. An oversupply of land or a lack of demand could impact its appreciation potential.

Investing in a Flat (Apartment):


Rental Income: Flats offer the advantage of generating rental income, providing a steady cash flow for investors. This rental income can help cover mortgage payments and contribute to overall returns.

Immediate Ownership: When you buy a flat, you become the immediate owner, allowing you to start earning rental income or move into the property, depending on your investment strategy.

Ready-Made Investment: Apartments in established residential complexes often come with amenities and facilities that attract tenants and make them attractive investment options.

Lower Entry Costs: In many cases, buying a flat may require a lower initial investment compared to purchasing a plot of land.


Limited Customization: Flats may offer less flexibility in terms of customization and development compared to a plot of land.

Maintenance Costs: As a flat owner, you will be responsible for maintenance costs, which can impact your overall returns.

Market and Rental Demand: The rental demand for apartments depends on factors like location, amenities, and market trends. Flats in less-desirable locations or with limited facilities may have lower rental demand.

Choosing between investing in a plot of land or a flat depends on your investment goals, risk tolerance, and long-term vision. Plots offer the potential for higher appreciation, greater flexibility in use, and lower maintenance costs, but they may not generate immediate income. On the other hand, flats provide immediate ownership, rental income, and ready-made investment opportunities, but they may have limited customization options and come with maintenance costs.

It is crucial to conduct thorough market research, consider local real estate trends, and assess your financial goals before planning. Diversifying your investment portfolio with a mix of both land and flat investments may also provide a balanced approach to long-term wealth creation and risk management. Consulting with a financial advisor or real estate expert can help you make an informed decision tailored to your circumstances.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying an Apartment or a Flat in India

When considering buying an apartment or a flat in India, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons to make an informed decision that aligns with your preferences, budget, and long-term goals. Below, we explore the advantages and disadvantages of each option:

Buying an Apartment:


Amenities and Facilities: Apartments in India, especially in modern residential complexes, often come with a range of amenities such as swimming pools, gyms, parks, security services, and community spaces. They offer a modern lifestyle to home buyers.  

Security: Apartments typically have gated communities and security measures, providing a sense of safety and peace of mind for residents.

Ease of Maintenance: Living in an apartment means you share the maintenance responsibilities and costs with other residents. Many apartment complexes have professional property management services to take care of maintenance tasks.

Community Living: Apartments offer the opportunity to be part of a community, fostering social interactions and creating a sense of belonging.

Affordability: Depending on the location and amenities, apartments can be more affordable than independent houses or builder floors.


Limited Customization: Apartments may offer less flexibility for customization compared to independent houses or builder floors.

Privacy: Living near neighbours may lead to reduced privacy compared to standalone properties.

Restrictions on Pets and Modifications: Some apartment complexes have rules and regulations regarding pets and modifications to the units.

Buying a Flat:


Independence and Privacy: Buying a flat in a low-rise building or builder floor provides more independence and privacy compared to apartments in high-rise buildings.

Customization: Flats offer greater flexibility for customization and interior design, allowing you to tailor the living space according to your preferences.

Exclusive Access: With your separate entrance and ownership of the entire floor, you have control over the common areas and fewer shared spaces.


Limited Amenities: Flats may have limited or no common facilities, as they are usually in smaller, individual buildings.

Maintenance: As the sole owner of the floor, you will be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the property.

Potential for Higher Costs: Depending on the location and facilities, buying a flat may involve higher initial costs compared to apartments.

The decision between buying an apartment or a flat in India depends on your lifestyle, preferences, and financial situation. Apartments offer a range of amenities and a community-oriented living experience, making them attractive for those seeking convenience and modern facilities. On the other hand, flats provide more independence, privacy, and customization options, making them ideal for individuals who prefer a self-contained living space.

Consider factors such as location, amenities, maintenance costs, budget, and long-term investment goals. It is advisable to visit different properties, research market trends, and seek advice from real estate professionals before deciding. Ultimately, both apartments and flats offer unique living experiences, and the right choice will depend on what aligns best with your needs and priorities.

Here are some tips to buying an Apartment or Flat

Buying a flat or an apartment is a significant investment and a crucial decision. To ensure you make a well-informed choice that suits your needs and preferences, consider the following tips:

1. Determine Your Budget: Begin by establishing a realistic budget based on your financial capacity. Factor in not just the property cost but also additional expenses such as registration fees, stamp duty, maintenance charges, and taxes.

2. Location Matters: Location is a key factor in real estate investment. Choose a location that suits your lifestyle, offers proximity to essential services, workplaces, schools, and public transportation. Research the neighbourhood's infrastructure, safety, and future development prospects.

3. Decide on Property Type: Consider whether you want to buy an apartment in a high-rise building with amenities or a flat in a low-rise building for more independence. Assess the advantages and disadvantages of each option and how they align with your preferences.

4. Legal Due Diligence: Ensure the property has clear and marketable title ownership. Conduct legal due diligence by verifying the property documents, obtaining an Encumbrance Certificate, and seeking professional advice from a real estate lawyer.

5. Research the Builder/Developer: If you are buying from a developer, research their reputation, past projects, and delivery track record. Look for customer reviews and testimonials to verify the developer's credibility.

6. Check Amenities and Facilities: If you opt for an apartment, assess the amenities and facilities offered in the residential complex. Consider the presence of amenities such as parking, security, fitness centres, swimming pools, and playgrounds.

7. Verify the Carpet Area: Pay attention to the carpet area (usable living space) rather than the super built-up area, as the latter includes common areas. The carpet area will give you a better understanding of the actual living space you will have.

8. Evaluate the Quality of Construction: Inspect the quality of construction and finishes during property visits. Look for signs of quality materials and workmanship.

9. Understand Maintenance Charges: Inquire about the monthly maintenance charges and what services and facilities are covered. High maintenance charges could impact your monthly expenses.

10. Check for Loan Eligibility: If you plan to take a home loan, check your loan eligibility with different banks or financial institutions. Compare interest rates, processing fees, and loan terms to get the best deal.

11. Negotiate the Price: Don't hesitate to negotiate the price with the seller or developer, especially if you are a serious buyer or investing in a new project.

12. Get a Home Inspection: Before finalizing the deal, consider hiring a professional home inspector to assess the property's structural and functional condition. This can help identify any potential issues or defects.

13. Understand the Payment Schedule: Understand the payment schedule and ensure it aligns with your financial capabilities. Avoid making significant upfront payments without proper agreements or documentation.

14. Go for a Resale Property Inspection: If you are considering a resale flat, inspect the property thoroughly to identify any maintenance or repair issues. Factor these into your budget.

15. Read the Agreement Carefully: Review all legal agreements, including the sale deed, before signing. Seek legal advice if required to understand the terms and conditions properly.

Remember, buying a flat or an apartment is a long-term commitment, so take your time to research and make a well-informed decision. Consult with real estate experts, financial advisors, and friends or family who have experience in property transactions to gather valuable insights. Being diligent in your research and decision-making process will help ensure a smooth and satisfying property purchase.


The key difference between an apartment and a flat is the building as well as the amenities. An apartment complex usually has a taller multi-storey building, whereas a flat will be in a building of 4-5 floors only. A flat will have a smaller complex with fewer amenities as compared with an apartment complex which is filled with the latest amenities and facilities.

The appreciation or return on investment depends on multiple factors like location, amenities, construction quality, etc. However, an apartment complex which is filled with the latest amenities in a prime location, and is built by a renowned developer is likely to see more appreciation in value.

While purchasing an apartment it is important to check the reputation of the developer, the construction quality, as well as the location, and facilities available to buyers.

A builder floor is usually a small house with 3-4 floors, that is sold individually to multiple buyers. It will not have any extra amenities, like power backup, etc. An apartment comes with multiple facilities like access to a clubhouse, gymnasium, 24-hour security, power backup etc. and will be located inside a huge complex with multiple towers/apartments.