Whether you’re a young professional looking for your first place to rent, or a retired couple that wants to downsize, condos and apartments are a great option. But, because these two options are so similar, it’s difficult to figure out which one to choose.
That’s why we’ve put together the following guide with a thorough comparison between apartments and condos. We also look at the most important features of each option to help you make an informed decision.
To understand the difference between apartments and condos we’ll start out with a standard definition of each. Read on for more.
What is an Apartment?
An apartment is a unit residence that’s located within a building or complex along with a bunch of other apartments. There’s usually one company or individual who owns the building and makes an income from renting out the units.
Before moving into an apartment, you must sign a lease agreement. Besides the rent, you may need to pay for utilities. Some apartments come with furniture while others come empty.
What is a Condo?
The word ‘condo’ is short for condominium and it refers to a unit that’s located within a residential building or complex. You can either rent out a condo from a unit owner or buy it from the developer or current owner.
A Homeowner’s Association (HOA) or Condo Management Company manages the condo building. Condo management is responsible for the maintenance of the common areas and enforcing the building’s rules and regulations.
Differences between a condo and an apartment
Here are some of the most noticeable differences between a condo and an apartment:
An apartment building is typically owned by a big corporation or individual investor who makes an income from renting out the units within that building. A condo building is typically owned by one entity or one person, but it’s managed by a homeowner’s association (HOA) or Condo Management Company.
You can buy, own and live in a condo just as you would a house. But, you can also rent or lease a condo from an owner who is not living in their unit.
There’s usually one individual or corporation who owns an entire apartment building and rents the units out individually. Here, your landlord will be the management company responsible for managing the building. Although rare, it is possible to find reasonably priced apartments for sale even in the most expensive zip codes.
As a condo owner, you automatically become a member of the HOA and have a say on who sits at the board of the association. Sometimes, an HOA board might hire a property management company to take care of the time-consuming administration of managing the building. Keep in mind that the HOA is a non-profit, whose board is made up of volunteers that lead busy lives outside of the association. To stay on top of things, some associations use condo management software to manage maintenance, funds and service agreements, etc.
Living in an apartment means that you won’t have much of a say in the management of your building or complex.
On average, the cost of renting a condo should stay the same for the duration of the rental period. But, you may have to pay extra for utilities or HOA fees.
The HOA is like a small governing body that’s responsible for maintenance of the common areas. The HOA collects fees from each tenant in the entire complex to cover costs like maintenance, insurance for the building exterior, etc.
The monthly rent amount for your apartment should remain the same throughout the lease period set out in your agreement. But, the rent for your apartment may increase when you renew your agreement based on the duration of your lease.
Depending on your landlord, you may have a long-term, one-year contract or a short-term, month-to-month lease. Either way, your rent will reflect the unit’s market value and it may come with extra costs like utilities and renter’s insurance.
The rules and regulations for an apartment building are determined and enforced by the property management company and apply to all the units. Failure to follow such rules may result in fines or some other disciplinary action. The rules of an apartment building could include things like separating your garbage for recycling or obeying the laws for common areas.
Condos on the other hand, are governed according to covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC and Rs) set by the HOA. Sometimes, individual condos may come with additional restrictions unique to that unit.
A typical apartment complex comes with standard features for each unit. While there may be a few differences in floor plans and appliances, amenities are usually the same for everyone. This could include things like a communal event space, gym, pool, on-site laundry room, playground, free parking, etc. The variety of amenities available in your apartment building will depend on the building you live in and what market it’s catered for.
Condo complex amenities are like those found in an apartment building. But, condo developers usually make an additional investment to the interior features of each unit to offer a high-value asset. This includes things like vaulted ceilings, special light fixtures, and granite countertops.
You could always renovate your apartment to suit your style preferences, whereas most HOAs don’t allow condo owners and renters to renovate their units.
With an apartment, maintenance is free. Some apartment buildings even come with complimentary perks like emergency maintenance staff available on call, 24/7. This means you won’t have to wait overnight or have to return from work before a service worker can fix your broken toilet.
Condo owners on the other hand, are responsible for the maintenance of their individual units. If you’re renting a condo, you must report the issue with the condo owner you’re renting from, and he/she may take ages before they reply to your request.
Condo managers who use property management software will respond faster to requests than those who’re still using old-fashioned paper-based systems. So, be sure to ask what type of system our condo manager of HOA uses to manage maintenance requests. This will give you a good idea of how efficient they are overall.
Which is better: Condo or Apartment?
We can’t make your decision for you, but we hope this article has helped to simplify things for you.
Physically, condos and apartment buildings are similar. They’re both buildings that contain individual units with similar square footage and amenities. The main differences between condos and apartments include ownership, maintenance, costs, and management.
The key to deciding is to consider your preferences. Do you want complete control over the appearance and maintenance of your unit? Or would you prefer that someone else take care of all that? Do you want access to more services and amenities or are you just looking for a decent place to call home while you transition into adulthood?
These and other factors will contribute to your final decision, whether you are looking for an apartment for rent or a condo to own.
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