Describing Homes: what’s a 3 1/2 and all those numbers means.

If you are new to Montreal, you’ve probably seen the descriptions for the living space, apartments or homes, signs with 2 ½, or 5 ½ as opposed to “one bedroom condo/home” or “3 bedroom apartment” sort of thing. If you haven’t figured it out yet, here is a quick (and hopefully clear) explanation.

Understanding the way we describe apartments in Montreal can be quite simple once you keep these tips in mind.

First and foremost, remember that the “1/2” half part, always refers to a bathroom.
After that, every room is counted.

For example:

One (closed) bedroom apartment with a separate kitchen is considered often as a 3 ½. Here is the count:
1 room for living/dining space.
1 room for the bedroom,
1 room for the kitchen (if it isn’t a kitchenette).
½ the “half” – which is the bathroom.

Smaller units are quite simple:
1 ½ is often a studio. One large room with a separate bathroom.
2 ½ could be either a closed bedroom with open concept kitchen/living/dining room or could also mean a studio with a closed kitchen. In this case, the bedroom and living/dining spaces are all open.

For the 4 ½ , is often referred to a 2 bedroom unit but it can also mean: a one bedroom, separate kitchen, living room, dining room and a bathroom (total 4 rooms and ½). It’s always good to ask how many closed bedrooms it has.

5 ½, same thing. 5 separate rooms and a bathroom.
Variations: 3 bedrooms, living/dining room (in one space), separate kitchen and bathroom.

There are many variations to the larger units, from 5 ½ and up. To know what kind of apartment you’re about to see, it will only take one question: How many closed bedrooms? Then you can do your own math from there.

Keep in mind that sometimes an apartment (or house) can be described as a 2 or 3 bedroom unit BUT if one of those closed rooms do not have its own window it is not allowed by the city to be advertised as a “bedroom”, as in a sleeping area. (link to By-Law)

Opinions and amplifications are encouraged in the comments 🙂

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{This article was originally published in February 2009.It has been updated to reflect current information}