What Is the Difference Between a Villa and a House?

By Staff WriterLast Updated May 27, 2020 7:56:50 PM ET
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The most noticeable difference between a house and a villa is the size of the building. Most people picture villas like the ones you may see while traveling in Europe or affluent parts of the United States. However, a villa may mean different things, especially with respect to villas in the United States. Read on to learn more about villas and what they are, how they compare to a house, and what other types of homes residents commonly live in in the U.S.

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What Is a Villa, Historically?

The word "villa" was first used during the Roman Empire to describe a large, detached, and luxurious home. Wealthy Romans would leave the city and travel to the countryside to "get away from it all" during ancient times. Related to large, luxurious vacation homes, the word "villa" is still used today, especially in Europe. American residents may also use the term when describing large homes as well. It is not an out-of-date term.

What Is a Modern Villa?

A villa is a term also used to describe a condominium or some other type of residence that's owned by a homeowners association (HOA). As opposed to large, grand mansions, villas may be semi-detached properties, where residents share a common wall with another residence. Some villas are also detached, depending on the community. Some villa communities may be gated or may offer amenities such as pools, clubhouses, or tennis courts.

What Is a Patio Home?

A patio home is easily confused with a villa home in modern times and is often referred to as a "garden villa." While a villa typically only shares one wall with one other residence, a patio home may have up to four residents in the same building. Like villas, these complexes are also run by an HOA, which means that landscaping and maintenance is typically part of the HOA fees or purchase price. Patio homes often have one story and are small (such as for one or two people), as opposed to villas, which can be sizable. 

What Are Other Types of Residences?

Other types of residences commonly include apartments, townhomes, condominiums, and single-family homes. Apartments are usually only for renters while the other types of residences can have a mortgage. A single-family home refers to a house that is detached, by itself. A large, grand villa could be an example of a single-family home.

What Are Townhomes?

A townhome, or townhouse, is another term for a semi-detached residence. These homes are connected, and homes in the middle may share a wall on each side with a neighbor. Townhomes are commonly rented, whereby the owner must take care of maintenance and property needs, but many townhouses can be purchased and mortgaged as well. Land is divided up where the houses are divided.

What Is a Condo?

A condominium, or condo, is similar to both an apartment and a house. This is because you can own and mortgage a condo, yet you are still responsible for condo fees for the upkeep and maintenance of the general property. Condos can also be part of an HOA group. Condos can be very similar to patio homes or villa homes.