Condos and Apartments: How are they different?

If you are looking for a new place to live, you will want to consider your options very carefully. For one thing, you will want to know what types of accommodation you can rent or buy and which is better suited for you.

If you cannot afford a townhouse, renting an apartment or buying a condominium are popular alternatives. Both come with their own pros and cons, so you need to weigh the benefits for and against each one yourself, based on your own circumstances.

Before beginning your hunt, you need to know what the differences are between condos and apartments to decide which type of living situation if more beneficial to you. Once you have signed the lease or purchased the property, it is very difficult to change your mind and get out of your commitment. Taking the time before committing is the best way to determine which type of space is going to benefit you and your family the best. The following information will help you learn more about condominiums and apartments, so you can be in a good position to make an informed decision.

What is a condo?

Short for “condominium,” a condo is a privately owned residence in a building with multiple units, although detached condos also exist in some places. Owners of condo units have common areas in the complex that they can access or utilize, such as courtyards, recreation rooms, corridors, garages and gyms. Condos have a lot of the same benefits of owning a home but condo developments are managed by an association that keeps all common areas in good condition and provides certain maintenance services.

Condo units will usually be less expensive to buy than other home ownership properties, which makes them ideal for many first-time property buyers. The process of buying a condo is exactly the same as purchasing a house. You need to secure a mortgage and sign a deed for the property on the day of purchase. However, the deed does not give you the same level of ownership as that of a house. You will own the interior of the unit but there are restrictions imposed on the common areas that stop residents from making changes. You are free to renovate the interior of your unit, by installing a new kitchen or replacing fixtures, but you will usually not be able to plant a tree outside or paint the exterior of the building. Changes to the inside may require approval from the condominium board or association to make sure the changes meet condo rules and bylaws. Other restrictions can include:

  • The type of fencing permitted.
  • Limitations on what sort of security lighting can be attached to exterior walls.
  • Limitations on vehicle storage and parking.
  • Restrictions on outdoor sporting equipment, like basketball hoops or kayaks.
  • The window treatments that are permissible.

What is an apartment?

Apartments are self-contained residential units that are usually rented, although they can sometimes be owned. Most people will think of an apartment as being part of a large apartment building. Although that is often the case, apartments can also take many other forms. For instance, if a family house owner rents out a part of the house, such as the basement, this can also be classified as an apartment. The types of apartments available in complexes, duplexes, quadruplexes and private houses can include:

  • One-bedroom apartments.
  • Two-bedroom apartments.
  • Studio apartments.
  • Microstudio apartments.
  • Railroad apartments.

The different types of apartments vary in space and features. As you would expect, the smaller an apartment is, the less expensive it will be. Therefore, studio apartments, which consist of one living space and a kitchenette, are cheaper to rent or buy than one-bedroom apartments that have a bedroom, a living space and a fully equipped kitchen. With such a wide range of different apartments available, there will always be an apartment you can find to fit your own circumstances and lifestyle. If you are a single person who spends little time at home, a studio apartment may be ideal, whereas if you have a family, you will want a larger space such as a two-bedroom apartment.

Choosing Between Apartments and Condominiums

Although there are many differences between condos and apartments, the key difference is condominiums are bought with a loan and owned, while apartments are generally rented. If you are trying to discern which residential unit is best, you will have to base the decision on your own circumstances and preferences. If you wish to become the owner of a piece of real estate but you want someone else to take care of things like maintenance and gardening, a condo will suit you better than an apartment. If you are looking to rent and prefer a quiet space in a residence where you do not have to follow rigorous rules, an apartment will probably be your best bet. Review the list below to weigh the benefits of each type of living space:

Condominiums:

  • Typically have higher quality structures and better maintenance benefits.
  • Allow owners to gain equity in the property.
  • Often come with lower mortgage interest rates.
  • Are generally larger than apartments.
  • Usually have more facilities than apartments.
  • Allow owners to customize the unit with new appliances, windows, lighting and other fixtures and features.

Apartments:

  • Are generally smaller than condos, making them ideal for single people or couples.
  • Have fewer facilities than apartments, making them perfect for independent people with a smaller budget.
  • Are better for people who like to move frequently for employment or other personal reasons. The flexibility of leases are beneficial for these types of tenants.

Another major difference between condos and apartments has to do with the monthly payments. With condos the payments stay fixed, although rates tend to be higher than the average rent for an apartment. Apartment rent can change every year, which may become expensive for tenants in the future. The amount you pay depends on a combination of factors, such as interest rates, down payments and loan programs. When considering the pros and cons of living in an apartment or a condo, ask yourself what your plans are for the next five to 10 years, so you can make an informed decision on which is the better option for you.

It might also interest you: