Whether you’re a millennial just starting out or baby boomer about to retire, a condominium can be an excellent way to enter the housing market or a great downsizing option. But, as anyone who’s ever owned a condo will tell you, condo living has its pluses and minuses. If you’re trying to choose between a single-family home and a condo, here are some things to consider.

Condo Affordability and Appreciation

PROS:

Depending on the size and location of the condos you’re considering, you may find them to be more affordable than a single-family home. Just remember to add monthly association fees to your mortgage payment.

UPDATE! New regulation as of 10/15/19: The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is now approving financing for single units in non-approved condo projects. This means anywhere from 20,000 to 60,000 additional condos could become available for FHA financing each year.

CONS:

Again, depending on size and location, condos generally appreciate more slowly than a house and may take longer to sell.

Condo Association Fees

PROS:

In addition to the cost of your mortgage, you will have to pay monthly condo fees to cover maintenance, insurance, and any other costs associated with general upkeep. Condo fees can vary widely and typically range from $100 to $1,000 a month, depending on the location and whether or not the condo offers luxury amenities.

CONS:

While condo association fees are generally a fixed amount, they are likely to increase over time. Additional costs may arise should major repairs or renovations be required as a result of overuse or a natural disaster. Another problem is delinquency. When other condo owners fail to pay their monthly dues you may be left holding the bag.

Condo Amenities

PROS:

Many condos feature a wide array of additional amenities like a communal fitness center, swimming pool, meeting rooms, and facilities for large functions like weddings, family reunions, etc.

CONS:

These amenities can add significant cost to condo association fees. If you don’t intend to use them you’ll want to think twice before putting money down.

Condo Maintenance

PROS:

From landscaping to snow removal, condo living frees you from outside upkeep like painting or roofing repairs. Additionally, all common areas are maintained by the condo association and are paid for by your monthly condo association fees.

CONS:

A lack of reliable maintenance resources can be a problem leading to higher costs and sloppy work. And, while you have the freedom to renovate and decorate as you please within the walls of your condo, when things go wrong internally like electrical and plumbing, you’re responsible for finding the resources and paying for all repairs.

Condo Security

PROS:

For many, particularly those who live alone, condos often offer enhanced security including gated entry, doormen, and high-tech camera surveillance.

CONS:

Maintaining around the clock security can be a costly addition to your condo association fees.

Condo Rules and Regulations

PROS:

All condos have rules and regulations designed to maintain order and privacy for residents.

CONS:

Depending on your age and lifestyle, some may find condo rules and the residents who enforce them to be too restrictive and overbearing.

Neighbors and Community

PROS:

Living in a condo can be a great way to meet people and make new friends.

CONS:

Unless the condo you purchase is a standalone unit you will most likely have neighbors to contend with on both sides and above and below you. If you’re looking for privacy, a condo like an apartment, may not be right for you.

There are many things to consider when choosing between a single-family home and a condo. If you plan on moving in the short term, consider the current value and overall market conditions. You’ll want to at least break even when you do decide to move. If you plan on staying indefinitely, be sure that condo living fits not only your budget, but your lifestyle too.