Time for some honesty: I didn’t know what the difference between an apartment and a condo was for a long time. I did have context clues, like most people seemed to think condos were nicer than apartments.
But until I researched, I was simply uninformed. And then, my friend decided to buy a condo. He was feeling settled in his life and liked the idea of putting money toward a property–seems logical.
His move got me thinking: Was one really better than the other? Can I rent a condo (because I am nowhere near the point where I want to buy)? And what are the benefits if I could? All that pondering (picture The Thinker statue) led me to some insight.
Here’s a look at renting a condo vs apartment and how it could better fit your desired lifestyle:
What is a Condo Anyway?
Seriously, I’d walk by fancy-looking shared properties and try to guess what kind of building it was. Oh, my naive days.
Both apartments and condos are shared properties, meaning they are buildings that contain individual living units. There can be as few as two units and as many as, well, whatever the developer wants and codes allow. The main difference comes down to ownership:
Apartments: An entire apartment building is owned by one person or company. In many cases, this is your property manager. The owners run the place, leasing out units, taking care of maintenance (most of the time) and purchasing big appliances (i.e., fridge and oven).
Condos: In a condo, each unit is owned by one individual. It’s like homeownership, but in a shared building rather than a single family home on a lot. Some condo owners choose to live elsewhere and rent out their unit to others and they become your landlord. In fact, that’s what my friend wants to do once he pays his mortgage—maybe you’ll rent from him, or maybe I will!
Renting a Condo
As with any living situation, you’ll have some options to weigh. Apartment hunting is pretty straight forward. You pay your rent and utilities every month and you might get some amenities, such as on-site laundry, free maintenance and a parking spot. Condos are a bit different.
Pros of Renting a Condo
Lots of people seek condos to rent rather than apartments for a variety of reasons, including:
Many condos are in great shape because people buy them. When you own something, you have more stake in caring for it. For that reason, many condos have modern appliances, beautiful finishes and details you may not get in an apartment (new hardwood floors anyone?).
They may have more amenities than apartments, such as concierge, lawn care, pools, etc. Of course, this all depends on the building. Many people who rent or buy condominiums are drawn in by the unit’s luxury options (why yes, I would like to soak in a hot tub all day).
Because you’ll rent from the owner of your condo, you’ll get more personal time with your landlord. These individuals typically don’t own a ton of property, so you’ll have more of their attention.
Cons of Renting a Condo
With extra amenities and a well-kept unit come some additional responsibilities.
HOA fees: Homeowners associations basically run condos. They keep the common areas nice and provide the things you’ll enjoy while living there. However, someone’s got to pay for pool upkeep and pretty lawns, and that person is most often you! People living in condos generally pay HOA fees along with their rent to enjoy the facilities extra perks. And no, you can’t forfeit amenities to get out of HOA fees. Some buildings have HOA fees included in rent.
There are people who don’t like renting from individuals. Rental companies know what they’re doing, so having a single person run your unit could feel a little odd, but that’s all preference.
Condo owners are responsible for taking care of their own maintenance woes, the way a homeowner is. That being said, you may have to pay for repairs if you rent. You’ll have to talk to the condo owner to see if they’ll cover the plumber or if you will. Fair warning, it may come out of your pocket, so make sure you read your lease.
Availability can be difficult for condos. Some HOAs and mortgage agreements don’t allow condo owners to rent their units. For this reason, finding a condo open for renting could be difficult.
Making Your Choice
Armed with a little more knowledge, you can approach your housing hunt ready to decide the winner in the condo vs apartment debate. Take a look at these considerations:
What Can You Afford? Having luxury amenities is nice, but do HOAs and rent fit into your monthly budget?
What is Your Desired Lifestyle? If a luxurious lifestyle is high on your priority list, and you can afford HOAs, consider renting a condo. Also, look for one that has the features you would use most—for me, that would be a fitness room.
Who do You Want to Deal With? Are you more comfortable with a reputable apartment leasing company, or are you OK with individual condo owners? Your answer could very well make your decision.
Hopefully, this information will help you as you start the apartment– or condominium-hunting process. Remember, the right place will fit into your budget and make you feel at home.
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