Some Basic Chicago Housing Terminology (Partitioned Apartments, Single Family Homes, Townhouses)

When visiting Chicago for the first time to start looking at living options, or checking online, the sheer volume of what is available as far as Chicago Apartments and Chicago Condominiums is staggering for most searchers especially if they aren’t from the city originally. Meanwhile the unique shorthand terminology that goes to describe Chicago living options can be hard to follow if you grew up somewhere more rural or suburban. Here is some helpful Chicago residential real estate terminology and what it refers to.


Partitioned Apartment

Like with one bedroom plus apartments, partitioned or  partial-height wall apartments exist as a way for developers to get around the natural light and ventilation requirements for bedroom spaces. They simply build windowless bedrooms from the main space using walls that run up half or three quarters of the way to the ceiling. While most find this arrangement odd and inconvenient more and more examples are appearing on the market.

The Single Family Home

Abbreviated SFH this is the tried and true stand alone home which most people do not think of when they think of Chicago. As you would imagine this title refers to any free standing dwelling with only one residential unit inside, not split into multiple levels. SFH have no homeowners association payments to make and there are a surprising number of these homes tucked away outside the downtown area away from the main roads.


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Also called Townhomes or Rowhouses these are the lines and rows of dwellings that typically share neighborhoods with the single family homes. Chicago Townhouses by definition share at least one attached wall with other structure, so you’re neighbors are always just a wall away. However the diversity of architecture of these buildings as well as the diverse number of units different developments offer make them a truly fun residence type to shop. Building high varies widely although one and two level examples seem to be the most common.

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