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Know the different types of apartments

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Penthouse Apartments. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCKS

An apartment, to the vast majority of people, simply means living quarters housed in a flat. But that is a very simplistic way of looking at it. ‘Apartment’ is a general term like ‘person’, for instance. And just as people, each apartment has distinct characteristics that distinguish it from other types, each has a different personality, strengths and weaknesses, etc. 

Those distinct qualities determine the price of the property, the kind of residents that will be attracted to it, and the rent one expects to get out of it. A good knowledge of the different types of apartments should help an investor choose wisely and be able to meet their expectations more easily. 

Below are the different types of apartments and their possible utility:


Monica Ajwang, the Marketing Lead at VAAL Real Estate explains that a penthouse refers to any specially designed apartment on top of a high building. 

Penthouses epitomise luxury and exclusivity, fetching high prices for their expansive layouts and stunning vistas. Typically situated on the highest floors of a building, offering commanding views of the surroundings, whether it is a city skyline, oceanfront, or scenic landscape. 

Take, for instance, those nestled within the Cadenza, occupying the top two floors where each ‘ground’ level will reside on the 23rd floor and the upper floor on the 24th. Many penthouses come equipped with exclusive amenities such as private elevators, rooftop terraces, swimming pools, hot tubs, gyms, and sometimes even private cinemas or wine cellars.

Penthouses are known for their expansive living spaces, often larger than standard apartments, providing ample room for living, entertaining, and relaxation. For instance, at VAAL, each penthouse boasts five generously sized bedrooms. 

Such properties are particularly coveted by high-profile businessmen who find them ideal for hosting meetings and negotiations in an environment that exudes sophistication and success.

Penthouses are designed with glass walls and minimalist furniture to ensure that nothing obstructs the magnificent views, further enhancing their appeal and desirability. They command hefty prices, for instance, a penthouse at VAAL goes for Shs3.8b, which makes it a desirable investment and lifestyle choice for affluent individuals and celebrities.


A duplex is an apartment divided into two separate living units. The two living spaces in a duplex can either lie side by side or on top of each other, according to Adrin Asingwire, the Marketing Manager at Universal Properties.

Duplex apartment

A key characteristic of a duplex is its division into two separate living units within a single building structure. These units can be configured either side by side on the same floor or stacked vertically, with one unit above the other.  

Asingwire adds that each living space in a duplex typically has its own private entrance, ensuring privacy and independence for the occupants. This setup is particularly advantageous if two families or multiple individuals are sharing the duplex, as it allows each party to maintain their personal space and lifestyle. 

Duplexes are often preferred by large families seeking ample sleeping space and functional living areas. The dual-unit configuration provides flexibility in accommodating multiple family members comfortably under one roof, while still offering individual living quarters.

From an investment standpoint, duplexes can be financially beneficial. Owners have the option to live in one unit and rent out the other, providing rental income that can help offset mortgage payments or generate additional revenue.


A triplex is a residential building configuration that encompasses three distinct apartment units within a single structure. The defining characteristic of a triplex is its division into three separate apartment units. These units can be arranged side by side horizontally or stacked vertically, each typically with its own entrance.

Each apartment unit within a triplex is generally similar in size and layout, ensuring consistency and fairness in living spaces. This uniformity appeals to both residents and potential tenants seeking standardized accommodations. Triplex properties offer the opportunity to rent out multiple units providing a steady income stream.

One bedroom apartment

One-bedroom apartments are quite common on Kampala’s condominium market. They come with one bedroom, a corridor, a living room, a kitchen, and a complete bathroom. These are perfect for single people living alone, and they are also attractive to people looking for Airbnb accommodation.


A basement apartment is situated beneath street level within an apartment building, typically offering more affordable housing options due to its location away from natural light. While it can be styled to enhance coziness and homeliness, it often lacks sufficient ventilation and daylight, making it less ideal for long-term living. 

Consequently, basement apartments are well-suited for investors looking to rent them out to businesses such as maintenance services that cater to the building’s residents, leveraging their convenient access within the block.


A studio apartment, akin to a muzigo in Uganda, consists of a single room that serves as the bedroom, living room (often with the bed doubling as a couch), and kitchenette. 

A studio apartment is essentially a single room that serves all purposes.

The bathroom and toilet are typically housed in a separate room. These compact units are commonly found in high-rent areas, catering to low-income earners who cannot afford larger apartments. They appeal to developers due to their small footprint, allowing for efficient stacking within buildings.

Studio apartments are particularly lucrative investments when located near institutions of learning or in areas popular among single individuals. 

Their efficient use of space and affordability make them practical housing solutions in densely populated urban settings. The studio apartment comes in several variations, each offering unique features to cater to different living needs.

Efficiency apartments, on the other hand, are extremely compact studio units with minimal space allocated for the kitchen. Due to their limited kitchen facilities, they are not typically suitable for long-term living and are better suited for short-term stays.

A convertible studio is a spacious single-room apartment that offers the flexibility to potentially divide the space with a separating wall. 

This allows residents to create a separate bedroom area, transforming the studio into a more traditional one-bedroom apartment. These variations in studio apartments cater to diverse preferences and practicalities, offering flexibility and efficiency in urban living environments.


A loft typically features one large, open room with a high ceiling that allows for a small secondary level, often used for sleeping (a loft). Due to its spaciousness and lofty ceiling, these apartments usually have tall, large windows that bring in ample natural light. 

They are commonly situated in repurposed warehouses or former commercial buildings. Lofts appeal particularly to creatives such as painters, writers, upcoming musicians, and dance instructors. These individuals are drawn to the open layout and abundant natural light, which provide an inspiring and versatile space for both living and creative work.

Floor through apartment 

A floor-through apartment spans the entire floor of a building, extending from one end to the other. These residences are characterised by their expansive layout, often featuring multiple bedrooms and luxurious amenities. Owning a floor-through apartment affords unparalleled privacy since you have exclusive access to the entire floor.

Due to their size and prestigious nature, floor-through apartments present unique opportunities for investors. Beyond personal residences, owners may opt to transform them into hospitality ventures, complete with a reception area and staff. 

This approach can be particularly lucrative when marketed effectively, even if the apartment boasts six bedrooms or more. The potential for high occupancy rates and premium pricing in desirable locations can lead to rapid returns on investment.

These apartments are coveted for their spaciousness and the ability to customise the layout to suit various purposes, from residential to commercial uses. 

Their exclusive nature and prime locations often make them attractive investments in urban centers, appealing to high-net-worth individuals and discerning tenants seeking luxury and privacy in cosmopolitan settings.