Here’s What to Expect If You’re Moving into a “Fourplex”

published Sep 2, 2023
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Street view of a fourplex building in Portland, OR
Credit: Photo by Finetooth on Wikimedia/Creative Commons

There are some real estate terms that are real head-scratchers as to what they might mean. A fourplex, however, is not one of them. But if your property knowledge has previously only extended to duplexes and triplexes, get up to speed with the definition of a fourplex below.

What Is a Fourplex?

A fourplex, sometimes called a quadplex, is a multifamily property comprising four individual units. Depending on the design of the structure and the size of the lot it’s on, it might be stacked two units on top of two units, four next to each other like a townhouse, or one on top of the other like a small apartment building. Some classic examples of fourplexes can be found in the Pacific Northwest.

Pros of Living in a Fourplex

Fourplexes vary by size, layout, and location, among other factors, but here are some reasons you should consider living in one.

More Space

Assuming your fourplex doesn’t consist of four micro-apartments in a crowded urban center, you will probably have larger living spaces, likely in a more suburban community where there are few, if any, high-rise buildings. Remember that the property is essentially a large home divided into four, so your quarter share could be one of the biggest places you’ll ever live outside of a single-family home.

A Possible On-Site Landlord 

Fourplexes are often bought as investment properties, with the landlord moving into one of the units themselves. That bodes well for you as a tenant when things need to be repaired or maintained. Blizzard? Your landlord is also snowed in and (hopefully) has a crew ready to shovel (or at least a snow blower to do it themselves). Power outage? Your landlord is also in the dark and wants a speedy resolution. Assuming your landlord is responsible and wants to increase the value of their investment, you can have some reassurance that the property will be well-maintained.

Potentially Cheaper Utilities

Sometimes in landlord-occupied fourplexes, each unit doesn’t have its own meter for electricity and gas. It can be difficult to break down utility costs per unit for an apartment building, but in a fourplex, it’s just a matter of dividing it by four. Additionally, it’s cheaper to run a fourplex than a building, so your share could turn out to be cheaper than what you’d pay as a tenant at a larger property — assuming your neighbors don’t crank up the heat to Florida temperatures in the wintertime, of course.

Cons of Living in a Fourplex

Fourplexes aren’t for everyone. Here are some reasons you’ll want to scope out smaller or larger properties, depending on your needs.

Privacy

The property might look like a large house, but it’s not all yours. Depending on the design of the property, you might still be sharing a main entrance with others. So while you won’t have as many neighbors as you would in a larger apartment building, you’ll still have at least three in very close proximity in your fourplex.

Noise

To be fair, this is an issue for any type of multifamily home, not just a fourplex. But when you have a neighbor directly on the other side of the wall or right above you, it’ll be difficult to achieve complete peace and quiet.

Limited Parking

Scratch this off the con list if your fourplex is indeed like a townhouse and you have a driveway or even a garage to park your car. But if yours looks like an ordinary house on a street with no off-street parking available, you’ll have to battle your neighbors for spots on the street.