Buying a condo vs buying a house

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Are you struggling to choose between buying a condo or buying a house? You're not alone. With condos becoming more popular across North America, and many great deals to be had, there's a lot of confusion surrounding the current real estate landscape. While detached dwellings are the traditional choice for many, condos have become a viable and attractive alternative. Let's take a look at the pros and cons associated with each option and help you make the right decision for you and your family.

Pros and cons of buying a house

Owning a conventional detached house is the dream of many Americans and Canadians, either in the suburbs or further out in a rural area. While it's not the only option available, owning your own house does provide numerous benefits. First and foremost, buying a house gives you complete control over the dwelling and the surrounding land. This has a number of flow-on effects, including greater privacy, the freedom to do your own landscaping, and the ability to install your own amenities. When you buy a house, you really are the king of your own castle.

Buying a house can also be economically beneficial, especially in certain real estate markets. While the average asking price for a house is typically more than a condo, house prices may increase more than condos in some markets, and values may be more stable over time. While buying a conventional house does provide an unprecedented level of freedom and control, there is a price you have to pay.

Along with your monthly mortgage payments, you are responsible for all property maintenance, renovations, and repairs. This is not just an economic burden, but also a big time commitment and the cause of a lot of stress. Buying a house can also have other negative effects on your lifestyle, with first-home buyers often needing to move away from the city to find a property they can afford. While some people love the beauty and space of the suburban lifestyle, you will also face longer commute times, less opportunities and infrastructure, and a more isolated lifestyle.

Pros and cons of buying a condo

The condo lifestyle has become increasingly popular over recent years, especially in large cities and retirement towns. There are numerous reasons for this growing popularity, with condos generally more affordable and also associated with a number of lifestyle benefits. While the price of condos differs considerably between locations and communities, they can be a lot cheaper and easier to access for young people, first-home buyers, and retirees. Buying a condo can get you out of the rental market quicker and allow you more money to spend on hobbies and entertainment.

Buying a condo also provides a range of lifestyle benefits, including greater access to amenities and the ability to live in a more central location. While not many people can afford their own swimming pool, tennis court, and gymnasium, having access to these amenities is common when you live in a condo community. With most condos located in central inner-city or desirable seaside locations, they also allow you to live closer to the action than you could otherwise afford.

These lifestyle benefits do come at a price, however, with condo owners having less control over their investment and subject to the rules and regulations of the Homeowners Association (HOA).

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of buying a condo, however, are the fees you're subjected to each and every month. Known as condo fees or maintenance fees, they are your contribution to looking after the common areas and assets of the community. When you purchase a condo, you take ownership of your own unit along with the right to use these community assets. While condo fees are often seen as an unwanted expense, they can actually save you money over time compared to looking after an entire house, not to mention a lot of time and stress along the way.