What’s the Difference Between Flat and Apartment?

What's the Difference Between Flat and Apartment

While hunting for the right apartment that will best suit your lifestyle, you may come across various terms. Apartments also go by the word ‘flats.’

Is there any difference between apartments and flats? Or do they just mean the same thing?

Apartment vs Flat

There is not much of a difference between ‘apartment’ and ‘flat.’ They both basically mean the same thing – a single-story self-contained housing unit.

That being said, there could be slight differences that you should know about.

The word ‘flat’ is more common in the UK market (British English). On the other hand, people in North America use the term ‘apartment’ more often.

Some people in the United States could get confused if they come across the word ‘flat’ while hunting for rental space.

Renters in Britain refer to single rental residences as ‘flats.’ When used in this context, such a rental space may have one or more rooms. There is no fixed rule.

However, in certain areas of the US, the word flat refers to an apartment that has multiple suites with communal spaces.

In some parts of the world, an apartment is a unit within an apartment building that is built with the purpose of residence. And flats may refer to living space within a building that was made for something else and also has a residential unit within it.

Again, this is a minor difference that is not consistent worldwide.

A Small Difference in Luxury

There can also be another small difference between the two terms.

The word ‘apartment’ in the UK can imply an upscale posh residence for rent. Apartments in the UK can have a pied-a-terre which is a temporary or secondary sort of housing.

The main point to remember is that apartments often imply a more spacious and luxurious dwelling in the UK .

Likewise, there are certain areas in the US where the word ‘apartment’ is used to imply a luxurious and spacious single-story rental space.

Both of these would mean a housing unit on a single floor within a larger building.

So while hunting for rental space in America, you should not feel too confused by the terms ‘flat’ and ‘apartment.’

On the contrary, flat may sometimes refer to a low-quality apartment or residential spaces in older buildings.

As I mentioned, there is only a slight difference (which is not even used consistently). In most cases, apartment and flat are often synonymous with each other. The key difference could be in the level of space and luxury.

The best way to tell how posh the rental space in question is by visiting it.

You should also read about the description since it can tell you a lot about the area covered as well as amenities some of which could possibly be classified as luxuries.

The only way to know is by seeing it in person or looking at images besides reading the description itself.

Flats and apartments can refer to a variety of rental accommodations that have key differences although they might share certain common elements.

While it would be nice to be informed about the difference between ‘flats’ and ‘apartments’ it is far more important to know about different kinds of accommodation units that come under these headings.

There could be big differences between size, uses, amenities, and layout.

Different Kinds of Apartments

Here are the different kinds of apartments that you should know about.

Convertible Apartment

As the name suggests, you can make certain changes more easily than you normally could with other apartment types.

That is, you can change the number of rooms more conveniently.

There is extra space that you can separate with a curtain or by walling it off so that you have two rooms instead of one.

This way, you could, for instance, divide a large space into a bedroom and a living room.

Studio Apartments

The humble studio apartment is a one-room rental residence. This is often the most cost-effective solution for bachelors and students who will be living alone.

All required spaces such as the kitchen, sleeping area, and living space are located in one open area. Due to their compact size, studio apartments invariably have a single attached bathroom.

The area of a studio apartment can range from 300 to 600 square feet.

Alcove Studio

You may have guessed it that an alcove studio is a studio flat with an alcove.

The alcove serves to accommodate your bed so that you have a different space for sleeping.

This could be useful because some sleep experts recommend sleeping in a separate area that is dedicated for sleeping only. Falling into deep slumber could be easier in an alcove studio thanks to this demarcation.

One-Bedroom Apartment

One-bedroom apartments might sound similar in concept to a studio flat because after all, they do have one room.

But a one-bedroom apartment has a true bedroom, that is, it is separate from the kitchen and living area.

The bedroom may be a minimum of 70 feet, has HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning), at least 7 feet of ceiling height, and an openable window.


A loft may be characterized by its large windows and high ceiling.

They have sleeping areas and kitchens as well.

However, they are often larger than studio apartments. They are often residential spaces carved out in places that hitherto served as warehouses or old factories.

Micro Apartment

Micro apartments offer limited space. They may be no more than 300 square feet in size. Besides the room, they also have a separate kitchen.

Micro apartments may have high ceilings so that they feel more spacious. They may also have folding beds that you can neatly tuck into the wall that they are attached to so that you have more space while you are awake.

Garden Apartment

A garden apartment may open into a garden.

These are often rental spaces located in a green area that may have grass, trees, and shrubs. You may thus be able to enjoy more natural scenery when looking out of your window.


This is short for a housing cooperative in which various people own one property.

Different people may buy a share in the property to become co-owners. Thus, such units often have multiple landlords which is something to keep in mind when renting a co-op.


A duplex may be a single structure divided into 2 separate units for living. Each unit may have its own separate entrance.

A similar concept is a triplex where a single property is divided into 3 living spaces.

Low-Rise Apartment

Since a low-rise apartment may have up to 4 stories, there may be no elevator. You may be able to bargain a lower rent on this basis.

So all in all, there are some subtle differences between ‘apartment’ and ‘flat’, that depends on the location. The term ‘flat’ is more common in British English while ‘apartment’ is more ubiquitous in the US.

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