HOUSE VS CONDO
Updated: Jun 7, 2019
The chicken or the egg? Chocolate or vanilla?
Here to answer the age old question--the house or the condo? Which is right for you and your lifestyle?
When we were first house hunting, we started our search touring lots--LOTS--of condominiums. It's hard to argue with maintenance free living, and in our area, condos are definitely more affordable to get into than homes. However, they are many facets to condo living, and in the end, a house better suited our lifestyle (the chaos of farm animals, the not so faint sound of power tools, and the desire to walk around in a towel in your own backyard without your neighbors thinking you're a weirdo--only on occasion I swear).
BUT, that doesn't mean that condo living isn't GREAT, especially if you have a certain lifestyle you want to maintain! I've compiled a (hopefully) unbiased list, highlighting the differences between condo and household living, including the little nuances that you might not have thought of.
C O N D O M I N I U M S
A F F O R D A B I L I T Y
It's no secret that condos are more affordable to purchase than homes. The cost of a condo is dependent on size, property values in the neighborhood, and the cost of living in the region, among other things. When it's all said and done, condos usually have lesser property values than homes, meaning that they also have lower list prices. That means lower down payments, lower monthly payments, and more money in your pocket. CHA CHING.
N O M A I N T E N A N C E
One of the biggest draws of condo living is the concept of the maintenance free lifestyle. While owners are responsible for the interior, the Home Owner's Association (HOA) owns and maintains the exterior. This means that you'll never have to mow the lawn, clean gutters, or landscape and can choose to spend your time doing other things. Some HOAs also cover snow removal and shoveling pathways. In exchange for these services, owners pay monthly HOA dues. Depending on the services and amenities offered, these monthly dues can quickly close the price gap between the purchase price of a condo and a house. Be sure to do your due diligence and number crunch to determine your total monthly condo payments (principle mortgage, interest, insurance, taxes, and HOA dues).
A M E N I T I E S
While most home owners can't boast pools, clubhouses, and tennis courts in their own backyards, many condo owners have access to a slew of shared amenities. As an added perk, these amenities are also maintenance free. Instead of cleaning the pool, you can go ahead and enjoy it!
S O C I A L C O N N E C T I O N S
While houses tend to have yards, fences, and hedges separating them, condos are literally attached at the hip! Because of the close proximity to one another and the use of shared amenities, condo owners are more likely to have close social interactions with their neighbors. Many condo associations also fund clubs, teams, or organizations within the complex. Are you interested in playing tennis with other women, golfing nine holes, or maybe knitting for a cause? There may already be group for that.
H O U S E S
Y O U R B U D G E T & T I M E L I N E
While home owners are on the hook for maintenance (inside and out), they can tackle their projects according to their own timelines and budgets. They're not obligated to hire the handyman if money is tight this month or if it's just not the best timing. Maybe next month will be better or maybe they just need a little more time to save up for that perfect new addition!
R O O M T O G R O W
Owning a home also means owning the potential for expansion. Whether that entails adding a sweet outdoor patio and in-ground pool or putting in an addition or guest house for a growing family, owning a home allows you to do so. You have more space and fewer rules, meaning you can tailor your home based on your desires and needs. This also allows homes to better accommodate unforeseen life changes than condos, allowing their owners to simply change their surroundings instead of moving entirely.
I N V E S T M E N T
Condos can be literally a tough sell, especially in a bad housing market. They tend to sit on the market longer and as a result, can sell for less than list price. Houses are likely to sell more quickly, possibly because they typically appraise better and appreciate faster. Also, buyers generally prefer the uniqueness, flexibility, and customization associated with homes.
F L E X I B I L I T Y
In my opinion, hands down, the biggest difference between a house and a condo is the degree of flexibility. While condo ownership is ruled under an HOA and many activities require proper approval, home owners do not need to comply with a governing body. As long as they're following proper municipal and zoning laws, they're in the clear to do as they wish. Suddenly want to adopt a Saint Bernard? Go right ahead. Does Fido need some friends? Go ahead and open a Doggy Day Care Center. Do you want to paint your siding purple and your front door orange? I'm skeptical, but sure, I can't stop you.
W H O ' S T H E W I N N E R ?
All in all, there's no right answer here. It's all dependent on your lifestyle and your wants and desires. Some people love to customize their homes to be everything they ever dreamed of--white picket fence, in-ground pool, porch swing out front to spy on their neighbors--I'm kidding. Others prefer to spend their time and efforts on other things--maybe on their careers, spending time with their families, or just enjoying the little things--and don't want to even think of maintaining a property. Everyone is different, and everyone has different preferences and circumstances.
What are your thoughts? What appeals to you more--house or condo living?