Repair & Maintenance

Condo vs. apartment differences

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A waterside condo is a beautiful alternative to a house
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Condo versus apartment? Both are residences. One you buy, the other you rent.

When you are old enough to get sprung from a college dormitory you will most likely move into an apartment with your college friends. Later in life, before you are ready or can afford to settle down and live in a single family dwelling, you may continue living in an apartment. Many people who are not interested in buying or living in a house, have to consider the condo vs. apartment differences, similarities and the overlap.


An apartment is a self-contained unit that utilizes only part of a building. An apartment building can be a large building, with hundreds of apartment units, or a small building with fewer than ten units. If you rent an apartment, you are referred to as a tenant. Apartments are referred to as "flats" in England.

A condo or condominium is a housing unit that you buy, generally in a large multi-unit building or complex. You can think of a condo as an "apartment you own." A condo is sometimes referred to as a co-operative society. You have full ownership of your condo and you can paint it and remodel the interior however you choose, as long as it is in accordance with the condo association ownership rules. When renting an apartment, you are not free to make these changes because you do not own the apartment. This is an important in weighing the condo vs. apartment differences.



A condo consists of common areas, such as swimming pools, tennis courts and hallways that are jointly owned by the members of the co-operative society. The members share the maintenance costs of maintaining the property. Frequently, there is a condo board or group that is elected and makes decisions regarding general maintenance of the condos and common areas. Condo owners are voting members of the condo association.


Condos are a group of individually owned apartments that could, if the owner desired, be rented out to another person. This is where the confusion sometimes comes up in the differences between a condo vs. apartment, because you can rent a condo (which is owned by someone else) and you can rent an apartment. An apartment is usually in an building that is owned by an individual or company, to which you pay monthly rent. Apartments are sometimes sub let to another individual. An apartment is often situated in a multi-storied building.

An apartment is a suite of rooms or a room that serves as a residence and is usually in a building that is occupied by several households


There are different types of apartments. A "cold water flat" refers to an apartment that does not come with modern conveniences. These are generally only found in old urban areas, especially in Europe. An efficiency apartment refers to a furnished apartment that consists of a bathroom and kitchenette, which is a tiny kitchen. An efficiency apartment is generally quite small, perhaps only one room.


A duplex apartment means an apartment that has rooms on two levels that are connected by a staircase. A flatlet is a tiny flat or apartment.


A railroad flat is an apartment where the rooms are in a straight line, one right after another, and you have to walk through one to get to another. A doorway generally separates the rooms. A railroad flat is deep rather than wide.


A studio apartment is very small and consists of a living area and a bathroom and kitchen and is very similar to an efficiency apartment. The bed, which may be a pull out from the wall or a sofa that converts into a bed, will probably be in your living room as is the case with an efficiency apartment arrangement. In other words, your bedroom may be your living room.


A penthouse apartment is located on the top floor of a building and is swanky. A walk up apartment means that you are going to have to take the stairs

Some of the benefits of condo vs. apartment living include living in an expensive neighborhood but not shelling out big bucks for a single family home. The condo association generally takes care of all maintenance, including lawn care and roof replacement, so you do not have to worry about that. Condos are considered good lock-and-leave vacation homes. Swimming pools and tennis courts are often part of the condo arrangement.


The downside of condo living is that you may not care for the restrictions imposed by the condo association. It is doubtful that you will have a yard. There are association fees and politics to deal with. You might not have an attached garage.


There are many financial considerations when comparing condo vs. apartment differences. Generally, apartments are not as expensive to rent as the monthly mortgage payments would be on a condo you buy. But, if you purchase a condo, you will be amassing equity, which you do not have when you pay rent every month.


References: condos vs apartments

RealEstateWebmasters: glossary

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