Apartment vs. Flat – What’s the Difference?

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Here we go again with the regional differences! This time, we’re dissecting the words “flat” and “apartment” and looking for any differences between the two. It’s going to be hard because they pretty much mean the same thing; it just depends on where the location is. So, I’ll break down the definitions and show you exactly how to use each word in a sentence.

Difference Between Flat and Apartment

Apartment vs. Flat Whats the Difference

As I mentioned above, the big diff is regional preferences. While they both hold the same or at least similar meanings, “flat” is more common in the UK, Ireland and Australia. But “apartment” is seen more in American and Canadian English. But what do they mean? Let’s get into it.

What Is a Flat?

In the UK, Ireland and most other Commonwealth countries, a “flat” is a noun we use to describe a residential unit within a larger building where multiple people or families live. They can vary in size and layout, but in the end, a flat is pretty much an apartment.

British English Apartment vs. Flat Ngram
British English flat and apartment usage trend.

You can find them in the form of studio apartments or flats, which are single rooms for everything, all the way to larger and more luxurious units that take up most of a single floor in a multi-story residence.

Apartment Meaning Explained

Apartment vs. Flat Whats the Difference 1

Just like a flat, an apartment is a smaller unit built within a larger structure containing other apartments. It’s meant to accommodate several people or families and is very common in cities with limited space for houses.

Flats and apartments are usually rented out to those living there, but you can buy them. They’re also closer to basic amenities and shopping complexes and are sometimes built around other apartment complexes.

Why Do People Say Flat Instead of Apartment?

Apartment vs. Flat Ngram
Flat and apartment usage trend.

There is no difference between “apartment” and “flat” if you’re talking about their meanings. The use of the term “flat” instead of “apartment” just boils down to regional language differences. Honestly, that’s it.

In countries where British English is spoken, “flat” is the standard term for an apartment or condo. But both terms are widely recognized so you could use either.

Synonyms for Flat and Apartment

Switch up your wordage and try any of these terms in place of flat or apartment.

  • Condo
  • Studio
  • Unit
  • Suite
  • Maisonette
  • Duplex
  • Townhouse

Apartment Examples in a Sentence

Apartment vs. Flat Whats the Difference 2

This is how you’d use the term in America and Canada when talking about an individual residence in a multi-unit building. 

  • I lived in an apartment for years before I met my husband, then we upgraded to a house so we could have dogs.
  • Are you coming apartment hunting with me this weekend?
  • The modern apartment building complex my friend owns offers a range of amenities, including a gym and swimming pool.
  • Amy and Dan’s spacious two-bedroom apartment has a beautiful view of Central Park.
  • There are several ground-level apartment units we can choose from if we have a pet.
  • The apartment society approved my application for a unit!
  • Renting an apartment in Edmonton can be quite expensive, so I’m looking for a roommate.

Flat Examples in a Sentence

Let’s see the common term flat in its British usage!

  • John recently bought a flat near the train station for easy commuting around London.
  • The historical York building has several one-bedroom flats available for rent.
  • My mate’s new flat is on the top floor, offering stunning views of the London skyline and the horizon beyond it.
  • We’re ready to upgrade from our flat and middle-class living into a larger home in the country.
  • My sister is studying abroad and needs affordable housing, so she shares a flat with two roommates to save on living expenses.

Apartment vs. Flat Final Words

Just remember that they both mean the exact same thing, but “apartment” is more commonly used in North America. Other than that, you can use them interchangeably in pretty much any context.