Deciding to buy a home is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make, and because of the long-term commitment that goes along with homeownership, it is certainly not a decision to take lightly. As you begin the process of looking for potential homes and analyzing your needs and finances, you will find yourself asking a lot of questions in order to find the home that is right for you. One of the most important questions all homeowners face is whether to buy a condo or single-family house. While on the surface a condo may seem like a reasonable option, especially for singles or couples without children, there are quite a few downsides to choosing to buy a condo over a single-family home.
While not always the case, condos are usually located in city areas. While the convenience of a short (or possibly even walking distance) commute to work may be nice if you work in an urban area, the higher crime rates and higher costs are not as desirable. Many condos in city areas cost two to three times as much as single-family homes in the suburbs, and are often half the size. Condos typically charge a monthly fee for parking as well, which could quickly add up as your car sits idle due to the accessibility of your surroundings.
By far one of the biggest advantages a single-family home has over a condo is the amount of privacy it affords owners. Living in a condo is a lot like living in an apartment; you can expect to have neighbors on all sides, and you can expect to live with the noise they produce. However, unlike an apartment, you own your condo and your neighbors own theirs, so you will probably be putting up with their noise for years rather than months. A single-family house offers a far quieter and more private living experience.
Decision Making Power
When you own a house, you have the ability to control all decisions when it comes to the appearance and amenities, so long as you are in compliance with your HOA and safety regulations. If you want to paint the exterior of your house, you can. If you want to build a garden, you can. When you own a condo, you share decision making power with every other owner in the building. If you want the building painted, you need to bring together all of your neighbors to make that decision and agree on a color. If you want to add some kind of feature, again, it has to be a joint effort.
Size and Space
While large condos certainly exist, they don’t provide nearly as much space as a house. You will probably end up with a space comparable to apartments in the area, give or take a handful of square feet. If you decide to grow your family, build a new home office or create a game room, a condo likely will not provide the amount of space you need to accommodate these decisions, and you will probably end up having to go through the selling and buying process all over again to find a place that meets your needs. Buying a house is essentially an investment that covers all planned and unplanned expansions in your life in the future.
While there are certainly extra expenses that come along with owning a home, condos tend to have quite a few hidden costs written into the fine print. In addition to parking fees, condo owners can expect to pay a monthly maintenance fee for upkeep, which can increase annually, and a fee to the condo association. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that if one owner in the building falls behind on any of these fees, it is up to the other residents to make up the difference, so consider whether or not you are willing to take on someone else’s responsibilities.