Are you finally ready to make the leap from renter to homeowner? That is very exciting, and congratulations to you for being financially prosperous and responsible enough to be in a position to afford a home. Now it’s time to make some major decisions like, what neighborhood do you want to live in? How many bedrooms do you want? What sort of loan are you looking for? A long, one with low monthly payments or a short one with high monthly payments? If you’re shopping with a partner, you’ll likely have some different opinions on these matters. But what about this one: do you want a stand-alone house or a condo? You don’t have to commit to a single-family home. You can buy a condo, with all of the glorious things condo-living offers. But each has its pros and cons. Let’s discuss.
Condo pro: some built-in security
Living in a condo provides some natural built-in security. Many condos have door code access, some have security guards, and there is the fact that you have neighbors all around you. They are a built-in and close-knit form of a neighborhood watch. An intruder may need to get through several obstacles—from the lobby door to the fob-access elevator—before he could make it to your front door. Getting to the front door of a house can be a bit easier.
Home pro: No more sharing walls
When you have a house, you don’t have to share walls with people anymore. Just think about that for a moment. No more being woken up by that one neighbor who slams her kitchen cabinets. No more hell on earth when the upstairs unit is undergoing renovations. You are removed from the chaos and noise of neighbors, directly on the other side of the wall.
Condo con: Decorative rules and regulations
Condos will have a lot of rules and regulations regarding décor. There is a certain aesthetic the board wants to go for, so you may be told that you can’t put certain things on your balcony or in the hallway.
Home con: No control over neighboring eyesores
Now, when you live in a house, while nobody can tell you what to do with your front lawn, that also means nobody can tell your neighbor. So he may just put up an erotic and offensive fountain, or let his yard become overgrown, mangled, and hideous, or put up too many holiday decorations all year, and there’s not much you can do about it.
Condo pro: General maintenance is arranged
In a condo, general maintenance on the building, like exterior maintenance (paint jobs) and landscaping are arranged for you. You pay for it in the HOA fees, of course, but you don’t have to make the calls and schedule the services.
Home pro: You can select your own landscaper
One issue with the condo is that you have little choice in who does the landscaping and so on. In a house, you have total control over whom you hire. Maybe you can get a better price than a condo board would have charged you.
Condo con: Regular board meetings
You don’t have to attend them all, but some are mandatory, and they can be grueling: the condo board meetings. They are like town hall meetings, but for your condo, and everyone gets together and votes on things like…changing gardeners or…relaxing rules around balcony décor.
Home con: All maintenance is up to you
If you want your home to remain in nice condition—especially to get a good resale price on it—it’s entirely up to you to A) be aware of maintenance that must be done B) research and find someone to do it and C) negotiate the cost of that. And houses need a lot of maintenance.
Condo pro: High-rise living
It’s highly unlikely that you can live on the 14th floor when you live in a house. But if you like high-rise living, you can get that from a condo. The views can be incredible and it can be quiet up there—you’re so far away from the street, and all the traffic and noise that come with it.
Home pro: Having a yard
A house, of course, provides the opportunity for outdoor living. You can have a deck, a yard, a patio, and/or a garden. If spending time outdoors everyday, without having to drive to a park, is important to you, then a house is the way to go.
Condo con: Difficult to resell
Condos are harder to resell than homes. That’s just the truth of the matter. There are often more people looking for a house, and the value of a house rises more than a condo’s.
Home con: The price is higher
Of course, when you are the buyer, a house will likely cost you much more than a condo. You can probably get a brand-spanking-new condo with state-of-the-art appliances for the same price you could get a fixer-upper house that needs a lot of work.
Condo pro: Access to amenities
A condo will likely offer amenities like a gym, a pool, a Jacuzzi, and perhaps shared barbecues and ping pong tables. Maybe it has a little dog park within its grounds. It can offer some level of resort living, where all of the things you need to relax and exercise are on-site. And they’re taken care of, too. A cleaning team cleans the gym. Someone sees to the swimming pool’s chemical levels. All you have to do is show up and enjoy these.
House pro: Private amenities
A home, naturally, gives you the chance for private amenities. If your home is zoned for it and you can afford it, you can have your own pool. You can put in a home gym. You can put a nice, big barbecue on that deck, that’s all yours.
Condo con: Shared amenities
In a condo, you’ll naturally be sharing these amenities. The gym will feel a bit like a public gym sometimes—if you go at the wrong time. You’ll wait for a machine. You’ll wipe someone else’s sweat off of a treadmill. You’ll listen to the annoying conversation of others.
House con: Care for amenities
If you have a pool or gym at your private house, you’ll need to tend to it or hire someone to tend to it. If your treadmill breaks, you have to wait on hold with customer service and find the right person to fix it and negotiate what that will cost. You have to find a pool cleaner. You have to restack your own weights after using them.