One of the biggest decisions in the home buying process is deciding on the type of home to buy. When you buy a house, you’re purchasing the building and the lot of land it sits on. When you buy a condo unit, you aren’t buying the land the building sits in or the building itself. Instead, you’re purchasing the living space in your unit and (usually) partial ownership of the shared areas of the complex. Which one is better? Each has pros and cons. Here are some pros and cons of each so you can make the right choice for your family.
Condominium complexes often come with apartment-style or even resort-style amenities: fitness centers, pools, clubhouses, and the like. Only the highest-end neighborhoods (think country clubs) have amenities to match. With the right condo you can access amenities like these at much lower prices. Also, they’re often built close to (or even on top of) retail and restaurant venues and have a walkable feel. Lastly, condo living is nearly maintenance free: the exterior and all common areas are the responsibility of the association, not the individual owners.
All those pros come at a cost. Condo owners must pay a fee to the association. This fee pays for amenities, maintenance, and exterior remodels when necessary. This fee can be sizeable, and there’s no direct counterpart in the single-family home world. Unit owners are also expected to share in decision making and are bound to follow the rules of the condo association. Most condos have no yard, which is a big con for buyers with kids or dogs.
Single Family Homes
Owning the entire building and the land it sits on has huge implications. You have the freedom to install a pool, build a shed, or even add on to your house, should your wants or needs change in the future. You can customize the look of the interior and exterior of your home as much as you desire. You also have more freedom to do what you want in your own home. Condo associations may limit work or social activities deemed too disruptive or forbid you from renting out a room.
When you own the home and the land, you’re on the hook for all maintenance, repairs, and yard work. This costs money, of course, but it also takes time. Make sure you budget for both. Homes in residential neighborhoods are usually not very walkable, either, so shopping and dining options may be accessible only by car. You’re also likely sacrificing immediate access to condo-style amenities.
Ultimately, the choice of condo vs. home ownershipor house is up to you. Consider these pros and cons and make the choice that’s best for your priorities and life circumstances.