The In-Between Move: Why Condo Living is the Real Estate Gray Area
In between apartment dwelling and picket-fenced Pleasantville, there exists a gray area: condo living.
I recently faced real estate’s most frequently asked question: to rent or to buy? But, as with most things in life, I discovered that even with this very cut and dry question, there is a gray area.
After living in a one-bedroom, one-bathroom 700 square foot apartment for the last few years, we knew it was time for more space. But, moving to a multi-bedroom home with triple the square footage and a yard sounded down-right intimidating–more upkeep, more to clean, and more money.
That’s when we realized that we didn’t have to make the jump from apartment dwelling to picket-fenced Pleasantville. There was a magical in-between step called the condo.
First, let’s get our definitions straight.
Apartment – An individual living unit in a shared property building which is owned by one person or company.
Condo – An individual living unit in a shared property building in which each unit is owned by one individual.
There are certainly benefits and detriments to both styles of living. So, to help us make the right decision, we made a pros vs. cons list. Here are just a few things to consider when deciding whether buying a condo is right for you.
Pros of Buying a Condo
– When you make an investment, you are more likely to take care of it. Because a condo is owned by one individual, they are more likely to make upgrades and keep the space in good shape. An apartment, on the other hand, might change hands more frequently, with little investment from one renter to the next.
– A condo is typically part of a homeowner’s association which manages common areas, so unlike with a stand-alone home, buying a condo doesn’t have to come with additional responsibilities like landscaping. Condo associations can often also provide for extra lifestyle amenities like a fitness facility or a pool.
Cons of Buying a Condo
– Unlike when renting an apartment, where general maintenance is handled by the property manager or landlord, owning a condo means you’re responsible for all upkeep. So, if the toilet springs a leak, you better have a plumber on speed dial and some room in the emergency fund.
– While being part of a homeowner’s association certainly has its perks, those perks also come at a price. As a condo owner, you may have to pay a monthly HOA fee. What this fee includes depends from one property to the next, but can encompass building insurance, landscaping fees, and reserve funds for major repairs.
Overall, we’re very happy with our choice to purchase a condo. It feels like the logical step in between renting an apartment and buying a home.