Difference Between Flat and Apartment

Main Difference – Flat vs Apartment

In a general sense, both flat and apartment refer to a self-contained housing unit that occupies only part of a building. They are designed as residences. The main difference between flat and apartment lies in their usage; flat is commonly used in British English and apartment is commonly used in American English. However, there are subtle differences between these two terms, depending on the context and location. This article will explore these different usages of the two terms flat and apartment.

This article explores,

1. What is a Flat? – Definition, Meaning and Usage

2. What is an Apartment? – Definition, Meaning and Usage

3. What is the difference between Flat and Apartment? Difference Between Flat and Apartment - Flat vs Apartment Comparison Summary

What is a Flat

The term flat is mainly used in British English. A flat usually refers to a set of rooms that are located on only one floor. Let’s look at the definition of this word in some dictionaries in order to understand its usage better.

Oxford Dictionary: “A set of rooms forming an individual residence, typically on one floor and within a larger building containing a number of such residences.”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary: “An apartment on one floor.”

All definitions emphasize that flat only contains a single storey. The term flat is commonly used to refer to apartments without a stair. The term flat is used in the United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong and most Commonwealth nations. In some part of the world, flat can also refer to converted self-contained unit in an older building. In some countries, the term flat can refer to housing units of lesser quality meant for low-income families.

Difference Between Flat and Apartment

What is an Apartment

The term apartment is mainly preferred in American English. The American Heritage dictionary defines apartment as “a room or suite of rooms designed as a residence and generally located in a building occupied by more than one household”. According to the Oxford dictionary, in American English, apartment refers to any type of flat; however, in British English, an apartment typically refers to a flat that is well appointed or used for holidays. In addition, an apartment may not be limited to a single floor. In American usage, apartment units in multi-storey buildings are called duplex, triplex, etc. depending on the number of floors.

In the UK, the term apartment is used more commonly in professional real estate and architectural circles. This term is sometimes also used to refer to luxurious and expensive flats.

Main Difference Between Flat and Apartment

Difference Between Flat and Apartment


Flat: Flat is an individual residence  with a set of rooms, typically, on one floor and within a larger building containing a number of such residences.

Apartment: Apartment is a room or suite of rooms designed as a residence and generally located in a building occupied by more than one household.


Flat: Flat is mainly used in British English.

Apartment: Apartment is mainly used in American English.


Flat: A flat typically contains one storey.

Apartment: An apartment can have multi storeys.


Flat: Flat sometimes refers to low-quality apartments.

Apartment: Apartment sometimes refers to luxurious and expensive flats.

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About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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