Difference between an Apartment and a Flat

By: | Updated: Nov-18, 2017

Here’s another head-scratcher for you: what is the difference between an apartment and a flat? Is there even a difference between the two? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, read on. In this article, you will learn the key differences between an apartment and a flat.

Summary Table

ApartmentFlat
More commonly used in American EnglishMore common in British English
In the U.K. it is often used by real estate professionals and architects; also occasionally used to refer to a luxurious or expensive flatIn the U.S. it is occasionally used to refer to a luxurious apartment

Descriptions

is it apartment or flat?

The word apartment is derived from the French word appartement meaning “a separated place.” It is a type of residential unit that occupies a larger building which is called an “apartment building,” “apartment complex,” or a “tower block.” An apartment can be a room or suite of rooms which can be rented by multiple households.

The most common types of apartments are:

  • Loft apartment – A unit with a large open space without any divisions that is often converted for residential purposes.
  • Studio apartment – An apartment that only has a single room which serves as the kitchen, dining room, living room, and bedroom.
  • Serviced apartment – A furnished apartment that has amenities and housekeeping services (the fees for these features are usually included in the rental price).
  • Communal apartment – An apartment where all occupants share the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Garden apartment – An apartment located on the lower ground floor of the building, with a landscaped yard or lawn.
  • Maisonette – A suite of residential units usually on two stories with its own entrance from the outside of the building.

The term “apartment” is commonly used in the United States and other areas that use American English. In British English, the word “apartment” is typically used by those who are in the field of real estate and architecture. It is also sometimes used to refer to the more expensive and classy flats in Europe.

On the other hand, the word flat is derived from the Old English word flett, meaning “floor” or “dwelling.” It refers to an apartment or a residential unit that is rented out to tenants.

The term “flat,” however, is preferred in Europe, Singapore, Hong Kong, and other areas that use British English. In North America, the term “flat” is occasionally used to refer to upscale apartments.

Apartment vs Flat

What, then, is the difference between an apartment and a flat?

Both words refer to a residential unit rented out to tenants. The greatest difference is that the word “apartment” is more commonly used in American English, whereas the term “flat” is used in British English.

It is important to note, however, that the word “apartment” still exists in British English and the word “flat” is still used in American English. In the U.K., an apartment is an upscale flat, while in the U.S., a flat is a luxurious apartment.

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