Remember the time when people either stayed in apartments or hotels? Well, that was a long time ago. Now, just like the blurred lines between SoHo, SoFo and SoVo, the ambiguity of these multi-storey dwellings is on the rise, as developers become increasingly creative in naming their development projects to cater to demand from the property market.
Today’s This vs That will attempt to explain the differences between these 3 types of multi-storey dwellings.



Apartments are the basic form of multi-storey residential buildings, which house many individual housing units. Apartments are built on residential land, and often have little facilities besides minimal parking space and a small field or playground area.

Condominiums are essentially apartments with bigger units, better (or more) facilities, and of course, higher price points. Many people use condominiums to describe apartments that have facilities like swimming pool, gymnasium, barbecue pit, badminton court, playground, and sometimes even a convenience store.

Note: In Malaysian conversations, you will often hear people say ‘flats’, ‘apartments’, and ‘condominiums’. Flats are generally meant to refer to low-cost multi-storey housing projects without facilities; apartments are high-rise buildings with some facilities, and condominiums tend to refer to high-end multi-storey housing units with complete facilities and amenities.Apartments and Condos

Serviced Apartments
Serviced apartments were initially built as an alternative to traditional hotels for people who were looking to extend their stay for more than a few days. They offer all the amenities of hotels, but with the utilities, space, comfort and privacy of home. The first serviced apartment built was the 240-unit Micasa Hotel Apartments along Jalan Tun Razak, which was completed in 1988.

The current day definition of serviced apartments has diverged from its original meaning, as many serviced apartments built today are just like apartments or condominiums, except with the added advantage of having retail and F&B outlets or even a shopping mall underneath. These properties are built on commercial land, therefore the electricity and water bills rates are charged at commercial rates, and resulting in higher quit rent and assessment charges for owners. Individual units are sold to buyers who prefer a smaller living space within the city, or investors looking to capitalize on the property’s location.

The definition of serviced apartment has become murky over the years, as developers try to market normal residential apartments built atop retail shops on commercial land, and calling them serviced apartments, serviced residences or serviced suites. In fact, the units offered do not include housekeeping services, are not furnished, and located in out-of-town areas.

Under the present legislation, service apartments and condominiums with adjoining shopping malls fall outside the category of ‘residence’, and thus are not governed by HDA rules. However, measures have been taken to ensure that certain guidelines are in place to protect the interests of buyers and developers. Hopefully in the future there will be proper legislation to govern these residential-commercial hybrid properties, regardless of what they are called.