Distinguishing Flat & Apartment

Flat vs Apartment

In everyday life, the terms flat and apartment are often used interchangeably in newspapers, news channels, and classifieds. Both words refer to self-contained housing units in multi-level high-rise buildings. However, there are some subtle differences between these two types of housing units.


The term “flat” is commonly used in the UK and other Commonwealth countries to describe a self-contained dwelling unit within a structure that houses multiple units. The need for such high-rise buildings arose during the industrial revolution when many people migrated from rural areas to cities in search of employment. Large property owners agreed to demolish their bungalows and build high-rise buildings containing numerous flats, which they could rent out to generate income.


An apartment refers to a residential unit within a large building or structure that contains several other dwelling units. In North America, an apartment is considered the same as a flat, with “flat” being the term used in the UK for the same type of residential unit. An apartment is a dwelling unit in a multi-story building with at least two or more stories. However, a duplex structure is not considered an apartment in some places.

Key Takeaways

  • Flat and apartment both refer to self-contained housing units within buildings containing multiple similar units.
  • Flat is more commonly used in the UK and Commonwealth countries, while apartment is preferred in North America.
  • In some places, such as Malaysia, flats are considered downmarket while apartments are seen as more upscale.
Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanovhttps://whats-different.com
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


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