What Is the Difference Between a Condo and an Apartment?

apartment

Alvin Wayne

When it comes to choosing and paying for real estate, so many factors have to be weighed: do you want to rent or buy? Where do you want to be, and what kind of space do you want to live in? Many people are choosing to invest in homes and condos over apartments, but for some, the freedom that comes with apartment living is hard to beat.

Not sure where to start? Here's how condos and apartments differ, and hopefully, this will help you decide what living situation is best for you.

Condos vs. Apartments and the Difference Between the Two

Normally, condos and apartments are similar in terms of layout: both are usually situated in larger buildings with multiple units, they may have similar amenities (like gyms or pools), and some even have shared green space.

The main difference, however, is ownership. Apartments are owned by landlords, who pay the property taxes and routine maintenance for the unit. Condos are owned by the buyer—and if that's you, that means you're responsible for yearly property taxes, maintenance, and any improvements you'd like to make.

You may also have to pay a Home Owner's Association or condo fee. This fee goes toward maintaining communal areas like a gym, pool, or shared office space in the condo complex.

apartment

Alvin Wayne

Deciding Factors to Consider

Location

Condos aren't available anywhere, and neither are apartments. Once you narrow down where you want to live, whether that be in the center of a city or on the outskirts, then you can make a better decision about what kind of dwelling will work best for you. It's also important to take transportation and commuting into consideration. Do you need to be near public transportation? Is there room for you to park?

Cost

This is probably the most obvious factor. You can find a variety of places to fit your budget, but how do you want to spend that money? Do you prefer to invest your money into a condo you will own, or do you prefer to rent an apartment from someone else?

Normally, renting an apartment is pretty straightforward. Your monthly rent is determined by the terms of your lease, and you and your landlord agree on what those terms are and how long you are agreeing to them for. When it comes to buying a condo, things can become a little more difficult.

Similar to buying a house, you'll have to pay a down payment (or portion of the total cost of the unit), closing costs of a mortgage, and a home inspection fee upfront. From there, you will make monthly payments on your unit and to an HOA if you have one.

Maintenance

When you live in an apartment, you can usually call your landlord should something break or go wrong within your unit. They'll fix a leaky faucet or broken oven for you more often than not, and because it is the landlord's property, those fixes are their responsibility.

A condo, however, is your property, meaning you are responsible for any issues that may arise. While some fixes, like a drippy faucet, are inexpensive fixes, burst pipes or electrical issues can become really expensive really quickly.

Amenities

Condos and apartments usually have comparable amenities, but no matter where you decide to live, it's important to know what you want. Here are some amenities to consider:

  • Green or outdoor space
  • A doorman
  • Laundry on-site or in-unit
  • Pool or gym
  • Co-working spaces

Is a Condo Better for You?

If you want to build your investments and own property, yes. What's nice about condos is that they are a way to ease into owning real estate, and they often cost less than a traditional home. They can often come with amenities, like a pool or gym, that you wouldn't get with homeownership, either.

Some of the positives of owning a condo include not having to worry about lawn maintenance or upkeep. Normally a condo's association takes care of that. However, that also means you won't have any say in how your unit is landscaped. Lawn maintenance costs are often paid for by the HOA fee you pay.

But, those fees can also be a downside. With an HOA comes certain rules, like how you can decorate your property or how you use it. You may not be able to paint the outside of your unit a certain color or have lawn ornaments if that's your thing.

You also have to remember that even though you own your unit, you still share walls with your neighbors. If you are tired of hearing what they're up to, it might be time to consider something a little more private.

townhouse bedroom

Gray Space Interiors

Should You Go for an Apartment?

If you're looking for something that's low-maintenance and aren't ready to own yet, yes! Apartments give you the flexibility to move often if you wish, and your landlord will be able to help you with routine maintenance or any aesthetic changes you may want to make. But, you won't have any control over how the outside of your unit looks or how the building is taken care of.

Because apartments are often located in or near cities, you may be closer to public transit than you would be in a condo. This can make walking around town or getting to work a lot easier. And not unlike a condo, you may be really close to your neighbors and able to hear what they're up to. This can be hard to escape in any situation, but in most apartments, you are literally boxed in by neighbors.

If you're looking to have some equity, an apartment isn't the right choice for you. No matter how long you stay, you won't be any closer to owning the unit than you were the day you moved in. Essentially, it's never really your place. It's your landlord's.

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