Published December 16, 2017, Updated February 8, 2020
So you’ve decided to purchase a home. Great. Now comes the hard part. Are you going to purchase a house or a condominium? Whether you buy a condo vs. townhouse vs. single-family home, will largely depend on your stage of life and what’s available to you. The answer might seem obvious, but for others, it’s not so simple. Houses and condos each have their pros and cons and deciding which one is right for you will depend on several factors.
Life in a Condo
Condos are often thought of as great starter homes and great homes for empty nesters, but there are a lot of reasons why people at all stages of life might want to consider living in a condominium.
Pros of Living in a Condo
- You won’t be responsible for any maintenance outside of your own unit.
- They often have access to onsite amenities like gyms and pools.
- They offer a turnkey lifestyle with few responsibilities.
- They offer enhanced security such as entry buzzers and security cameras.
- You have a say in the running of the building. You’ll have voting rights and can be elected to the board of directors if you’re interested in running.
Cons of Living in a Condo
- You’ll have less privacy than you would in a house because you share common elements.
- There’s usually limited outdoor space.
- Your renovation options are limited.
- There will be maintenance fees on top of mortgage payments and property taxes.
- You’ll have little control of how and when building repairs are done.
- You might have to pay for amenities you don’t use.
- You’ll face possible restrictions on things like parking and pets.
- Condos are not likely to rise in value as much as a comparable house might.
Condos offer you homeownership but with fewer responsibilities than a house. A condo might be right for you if you’re interested in a turnkey lifestyle and don’t mind sharing common spaces with the neighbours.
Life in a House
A lot of people dream of owning a house. In our society, it often seems like a rite of passage, along with getting married and starting a family. But buying a house isn’t the right answer for everyone. And with house prices soaring, it’s not always an option. Before you jump into homeownership, consider the pros and cons and how they will affect you.
Pros of Living in a House
- Detached houses tend to increase in value faster than semis or condos.
- There are no people living above or below your home (unless you choose to rent part of it out, which I always support!).
- You have total control over renovations and upgrades without needing permission from a board of directors.
- They typically have more storage space because of attics, basements and/or garages.
- They often have outdoor space, be it a front yard or a backyard or both.
Cons of Living in a House
- You are responsible for all maintenance and repairs inside and outside, whereas in a condo many things are scheduled and dealt with by the property manager.
- You’ll need to purchase extra tools and equipment for maintenance (rakes, shovels, lawnmowers, tools, etc.)
- Utility bills are usually higher than in a condo.
Houses can be great due to the freedom and privacy they offer, but they can cost a lot of money and require a lot of maintenance. A house might be right if you want the flexibility to do what you want and aren’t afraid of the time, effort and cost to do it.
When all is said and done, the type of property you should purchase often comes down a combination of lifestyle and finances. Both houses and condos afford many different styles and options, so whatever decision you make, you’ll find something to suit.
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