Apartment vs Maisonette – What to Choose?

Property-viewing--007If you are after a small piece of Maltese real estate that is easily manageable and practical for your purpose in life, chances are you will  be thinking of an buying an apartment.  Then, just when you have set your heart on this decision, your real estate agent informs you there is another property you might be interested in viewing…. and it’s not an apartment. It is a maisonette in Malta…

Enter the dilemma… you will like it too, but wonder whether the maisonette solution is also ideal for you. Here’s what you have to consider…. 

– An apartment, is an apartment, is an apartment….. No, that is not a typo. It is a fact of life – an apartment is a neat word for a flat and a flat is a slice of living space slotted in between other slices of living space in one big building that is called a block. Remember the blocks you used to play with as a kid? Right, you’re going to be living in one of them.

– A maisonette has its name originating from the French word for house – maison.  A maisonette would be a small house. Alternatively, it can be considered as a house on stilts.  You could be living above something else – above a shop, a row of garages, a store, another maisonette. In this case your maisonette would be an elevated first or second floor maisonette.

– Alternatively, a maisonette can be considered as a house without any airspace. In this case yours is a ground floor maisonette, perhaps also enjoying private basement space. You have to contend with somebody else living above you or working from the premises above you. Loud neightbours

– A key difference between an apartment and a maisonette is that with the apartment you have your front door leading out onto a common area shared by other apartment owners in your block and you need to travel through the common area to be able to exit the block or vice versa. On the other hand, as a maisonette owner, your front door is your own and you use it to enter/exit your maisonette directly.

– With an apartment, you will be bound with a condominium agreement that directs you in the use of the common areas and probably dictates what you can or cannot do with your exterior areas. Therefore you may be limited from hanging clothes to dry on your terrace/balcony since this may look unpleasant on the block’s general aesthetic image. You may be forbidden from keeping pets. You will probably be required to pay an annual fee for general maintenance of the block’s interior/exterior.

– With a maisonette, you will be your own boss, and you will likely be able to do as you please in your outdoor areas (as long as you don’t break the peace or cause disturbance to your neighbours). Still, if you live above other premises, you will have to respect whoever inhabits the premises below your own, and hope they will respect you. Therefore, if you live above a wellness centre, you may have to resign yourself to hearing loud dance music every Tuesday night whilst the Zumba classes are in process. If you live below other premises, you will have other things to contend with – banging feet above your ceiling for instance, (especially if the wellness centre is situated there, which means you will not only hear the loud music on Tuesday nights but also settle to endure the banging feet of the Zumba dancers). It would be wise to know details about the premises you may be living above or below before signing contracts, especially where these premises are utilised as workshops/garages/stores that may be kept open well into the night or may have fumes and undesired smells emanating from them.

relaxing-at-home– With an apartment you probably have neighbours living below you, above you and adjacent to you. Unless windows and doors are kept locked and come well insulated, you are likely to know what time Mr X woke up, what time Mrs L broke the teapot, what time Mr & Mrs XYZ lost their fuse and what time any one of them got locked out.

Still undecided? There’s nothing for it but to go ahead and view the properties which interest you on different days of the week and different times of day. Ask for information, be clear about conditions of contract and make advised decisions. Whatever your ultimate choice, you can always write in and share your experience with us.

This article was written by Marika Azzopardi, a freelance writer and journalist. A frequent contributor to national English language papers and magazines, she writes about a bevy of topics including art, people and life in general. She is also the author of children’s books and short stories, delving into adult fiction from time to time.