Your first question might be: ‘what exactly is a duplex apartment?’ And hardly anyone will blame you for the confusion. With local real estate agencies adopting American terms in favour of the more traditional British ones, it’s getting difficult to keep up. So let’s try and clear the terminology. If you own one floor it’s an apartment. That seems simple. But what if you have two floors? Is it a duplex apartment or a maisonette? Maisonettes in Malta rarely are part of multi story apartment blocks. Rather they just tend to be two houses with two stories built next to each other with separate entrances. Duplex apartments on the other hand are multi-storey apartments, often located in a sizeable block, connected internally with stairs. Maisonettes tend to be older, in fact there haven’t been any new ones being built at all recently. Apartments built purposely to be duplex apartments are newer since the concept hasn’t been around long in Malta.
Like most other developments in vertical living duplexes were born in New York City- Manhattan to be precise. Considering Manhattan is a tongue of land between two rivers (it’s actually quite similar to Valletta, only much larger) and land comes at a premium, it’s hardly surprising that the predominant direction of building became up. They quickly spread from New York all across the world. Duplex apartments are more often associated with luxury apartments. They often share some of the distinguishing features like better location and neighbourhoods and they are obviously larger.
Just like a house, only more affordable?
A proper duplex when done well is often spacious, with large windows (some luxury ones even offer floor to ceiling windows) providing great views and light and a fair number of rooms. In short, you can have the space and feeling of a house with the rent of an expensive apartment. This makes them great bets for families who have to move to an area only temporarily. Alternatively, if you decide to purchase a duplex apartment, you often can get loads of communal facilities like a swimming pool for a fraction of the price and none of the maintenance and upkeep headache.
Having an additional level makes so many things better. If you take your work to home and have young children who like to be noisy, you can just move to the other level instead of silencing them. Really, just let them be noisy, there’s a time in life for everything. In fact levels make avoiding things as a general concept much easier. Want to give your significant other the silent treatment? Climb the stairs! Don’t want your house guests to inspect and judge you on/see your bedrooms? Just host them in the lower floor.
More balconies and terraces
Most duplex apartments come with more than one terrace or balcony, either at different floors or different ends. Either way, variety is the spice of life, and outside areas make great washrooms if your property doesn’t feature one already.
Since most duplex apartments are recently built they tend to feature more modern decor and furniture, although chances are you’ll find anything you want if you are willing to look long and hard enough. Most duplexes are also springing up in newer developments or ones still being built: either in the usual central urban areas of St. Julians or Sliema, and also in more open areas like St. Pauls, Mellieha or Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq. So if you’re looking for something larger than your traditional apartment, perhaps something that’s more family friendly, you might want to consider duplex apartments. However, always approach listings with a critical eye- ‘duplex’ is often thrown around to make listings more lucrative. And don’t give up just because you might go and see a poor representation of a duplex, there are some great ones out there.