Buying and old house VS. a new flat

Hi guys,

I want your opinion on following topic :

As a single man, would you rather buy an old house, in a noisy located area and requiring lots of renovations works, or buy a new 4 rooms apartment ?

Here is the background: I am 37 years old, no girlfriend no kids (would like to have), living since 2008 in the second apartment of an old small family house inherited by my aunt and my father in the early 2000’s. The house was previously owned by an old aunt born in the early 1900’s and who passed away at almost 100 years after living there her whole life. I knew her until beeing a teenager.

The house has a garden and is located in a noisy area, next to an important street with lots of traffic and plane noise, the airport being close. Value around 1.0-1.3M CHF. The area will have lots of construction works in the coming 10 years.

I renovated the second apartment (painting and floors) during my studies in 2008 and my aunt was living in the first apartment downstairs. A fire occured in her apartment a few years ago so it was renovated and is more confortable than mine. « My » apartment isn’t confortable, the bathroom is falling apart as it hasn’t been renovated since 1956 (true story), the kitchen is very small and poorly designed. The main issue remains the thermal insulation, in the winter my bedroom gets under 12° C (see why no girlfriend ^^) and in the summer the roof stores the heat and the temperature doesn’t goes under 25° C in the night.

In 2021, I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to buy a 4 room apartment for a good price (in a « LGZD » area for those aware, which binds the owner to live there for 10 years). The flat will be ready this autumn (newly built). Until then everything looked fine, besides the interest rates going up. Valued ~750k now, but in 10 years I could sell the flat for at least 1M or rent it.

End of 2022, my aunt passed away, suddently. Her daughter, my cousin, is underage until next year and doesn’t want to come back and live in the apartment. So therefore I am torn. I kinda like the house, doesn’t want to sell it. My father doesn’t care much about this house, he’s retired now and doesn’t want to invest time and energy in a house where he never lived. I could see myself living there with a family with kids in the long run, also due to the fact that it is historically in the family since more than 120 years.

Now I am wondering if I should buy the apartment of my aunt/cousin instead of buying the flat. I could also buy the new flat and we could rent the apartments of the old house, but this will be a pain in the *ss due to the lack of confort (among others).

First off, I wouldn’t set in stone plans for your housing situation with a family of your own if you are not in a relationship now: you don’t know who you’ll meet and she may come with her own house/appartment that she may not be willing to sell for her own reasons (which could mirror your own) or her own set of constraints that make your current plans poorly fitted for your actual future situation.

Then, I lean strongly on the “build your life on your own terms rather than doing it with what life serves you” team, so I think you should choose whatever most fit your own aspirations without giving much weight to external constraints. That being said, I can understand not wanting to let go of a family asset, building and maintening a legacy has a strong pull.

You don’t seem to like your current living accomodations much, so the choice would be between your new appartment (with the 10 years of living there constraint), the family house after you have fully paid, organized, supervized and gone through the renovations needed to make it suitable for you or a third option.

All these options have costs. Being in a somewhat similar situation myself (37M, single, poor living amenities that don’t fit well with dating, aspirations for developping the relationship side of my life), I am wondering how much of your want to buy your own appartment comes from not being satisfied with your current living accomodations vs really wanting to buy that specific type of flat now. The answer to that could open the door to more options, including renting something that suits your needs and aspirations for the time being (i.e. modern and comfortable enough for your wants).

Whatever I choose, I would make sure that the asset I’m buying can either be resold, turned into a rental or used as a secondary residency in case my assessment changes once I get into a relationship (and “I” becomes “we”).


I strongly push toward the fact that you won’t decide your family home alone and your future other half will likely impose her style.
Living in someone else old house does not seemed appealing.
Is the area of your future flat a better location to grow a family ?

In the cons: Lots of car traffic may also imply a not such clean air to breath in this house/ garden with PM2.5 and NOx pollution. This will impact your health and life expectancy.
You could monitor it with data published by the city or


I understand that the choice is between buying the flat or the other half of the house, even though from your text it sounds like you already committed to the flat.

Tough choices but I’d lean towards buying the old house.

A couple of reasons I can think of:

  • Car traffic is going to become more and more electrified in the coming years, so noise and pollution will likely decrease
  • The fact that the area will see lots of construction work sounds like the value of the property will appreciate as the neighbourhood develops
  • Renovations would be an easy way to save on taxes, especially valuable if you have a high income
  • Your own house with garden makes you the sole owner of the plot
  • You could also one day demolish the house and possibly have a building with more than 2 flats.

I bought my grandparents house for emotional reasons and had to sell my flat to do so. I want real estate properties to stay in our family and eventually be passed down to our kids.

The house is rented and pays for itself, but I underestimated the cost and effort needed to renovate it. A 120 years old building might not be renovated step by step or room by room. It’s more like an all-or-nothing approach, large sums of money need to be injected at once to ensure consistent results.

If your plan involves some renovation, be sure to know what to expect. This might significantly decrease the price you’d be willing to pay for the house.


Personally, I would go with the house (assuming it is a freehold property, and not a leasehold). The reason being that a house would be my solely-owned property, whereas an apartment is a co-ownership, with all the limitations, responsibilities, and issues that brings.

It seems that the location is good, and that there are two apartments in the house (did I understand that correctly?), one of which is fairly newly-renovated. So you have:

  1. An apartment you can rent out to help cover the mortgage.
  2. An apartment you can live in, rent-free, letting you save the money to pay off the mortgage or fund a renovation. Sure, it’s old and crusty, but a new coat of paint can and maybe a little bathroom/kitchen tweeking can work wonders.

Land generally gains value over time. A building, on the other hand, always loses value over time (barring a few extreme exceptions). So you are much better owning a plot of land than the floor-space of an apartment.


Plus, if you are single and the typical FIRE guy, the fact that you’d be living in a place with lower standards could help you filter possible long-term partners based on whether they would be ok with such setup.
BTW, I recently heard MMM sponsoring, which might turn out useful, if only more people (women, especially) used it.

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