Condo vs apartment
Before you start searching for your new home, use this guide to learn what makes a condo different from an apartment. It can help you decide which is right for you.
If you're looking for a new place to rent, you've probably seen listings for condos and apartments. They may seem similar, but there are differences between the two types of properties — like building ownership, maintenance, fees and amenities. Here are some tips to help you decide whether a condo or an apartment should be your new home.
What is an apartment?
Apartments are usually smaller, have tougher pet policies, and place more restrictions on how you can change or customize your place. But, there are upsides to apartment living, too. Generally, maintenance is taken care of for you and there are no association fees to worry about.
What to expect from apartment living
- Ownership — Typically the whole apartment building has one owner. They may be onsite at the building or hire a management company to handle any issues you may have.
- Layout — Units in the same apartment building will probably have the same layout and design.
- Amenities — Amenities always vary, depending on the building. Your building could have free parking and on-site laundry, or you may have to pay for parking and take your clothes to the laundromat. Always ask about amenities before you sign a lease to make sure you're getting what's important to you.
- Rental policy — All renters in a building are expected to follow the same rules, like noise restrictions, pet policies or renovations, which the property manager enforces. Not following the terms of the lease can lead to serious consequences.
In some places, like big cities, you can rent or own an apartment. Depending on things like how long you'd like to stay in the location, your budget and your lifestyle, it's up to you whether you decide to rent or own. If renting an apartment is right for you, make sure your stuff is protected with renters insurance — it covers the stuff landlords don't.
What is a condominium?
Condos typically offer more unique layouts and design styles, make it easier to customize your space, and have more relaxed pet policies. But, remember that condo association fees and a condo association probably come with the property.
- Ownership — Each unit in a condo building usually has a different private owner. That person is your landlord.
- Layout – Like apartments, condos usually share a wall with another unit. But, since each condo has a unique owner, they often vary on the inside in layout and design and may have more upgrades than an apartment.
- Amenities — Different condo complexes offer different amenities. Generally, amenities are covered under the condo association fee, which could be your responsibility to pay. Some common amenities are parking, community room, pet area, laundry, pool and gym.
- Rental policy — With a condo, you rent the unit and share the common spaces. The condo owner makes the rules for inside the unit and they can differ from condo to condo. Make sure you review your lease before signing it. The condo association guidelines make the rules for the common areas, which you'll be expected to follow. Be sure to get a copy of those rules, too.
If renting a condo is right for you, make sure you're protected with renters insurance.
How is maintenance handled?
- Apartment maintenance — If something goes wrong, you contact the property owner or management company. Issues usually get resolved quickly and you don't have to worry about doing it yourself.
- Condo maintenance — Each owner is responsible for maintenance inside their unit, which may mean the repair takes more time. Any issues in the common areas are typically taken care of by the condo association.
What fees are involved?
- Apartment fees — These fees may include things like first and last month's rent, pet deposit and application fee.
- Condo fees — Each unit's owner determines rental fees, but a common fee is usually the condo association fee, which covers maintaining the building's common areas.
What questions should I ask?
Whether you're looking at a condo or an apartment, make sure to ask questions. It's the best way to figure out which new home is right for you.
- Are there any rules associated with this building?
- What does the rent cover? Mowing, landscaping, parking, trash, water, etc.
- How old is the building?
- What amenities are offered?
- How many units are in this building?
- How many parking spots are assigned to each unit?
- Is there extra storage available?
- Are pets allowed?