comments 7

A home not a unit

I dislike the term residential unit.

It makes a home sound like some sort of widget. When have you ever heard someone say, “unit sweet unit”? Never. And yet this is generally what we use to refer to housing that comes in an apartment form and is not grade-related.

If you build low-rise houses, you’re a home builder. But anything beyond that, and the home moniker apparently needs to fall away.

There is, of course, a very good reason for this and it is that we have a longstanding history of not liking apartments. And so this is in all likelihood some sort of carryover of that bias. Surely there’s no way to create a morally-correct home in an apartment. So let’s use a more utilitarian sounding name, like unit.

I’m sure that I have used the word “unit” countless times on this blog throughout the years. But I am working to remove it from my vocabulary. And now you can all hold me accountable to that.


  1. David Supple

    do you have a go-to replacement word yet? flat, dwelling. do we need to create a new word?


  2. Jakob P

    I think of “home” as the umbrella term for “house” and “apartment”.

    Incidentally, the German name for apartment is “Wohnung”, which might as well literally translate to dwelling. From “wohnen” – to dwell, to reside in a home, as opposed to houses which are just houses (“Haus”) all the time, unless you “go home” (“heimgehen”) which is the same regardless of housing type. As it is in English.

    But in day-to-day use, I’ll also say apartment. It seems more humanizing than “unit”.


  3. Colleen Miller

    “Home” still sounds like a realtor’s hard sell to convince us these high rises are homey. We make them homey inside, but in Vancouver they look like office buildings or vertical ice cube trays from the outside. They’re just stacks of windows, not the welcoming vision of home.
    Suite, condo, apartment are more realistic terms and less doublespeak.


  4. Pingback: IKEA has just hired photographer Annie Leibovitz to document normal people doing normal things in their homes – BRANDON DONNELLY

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s