Ultimate Guide To Condo Living

by - 5/08/2017 10:07:00 PM

The condominium lifestyle is a popular choice amongst a huge range of people, from students to young professionals through to first-time buyers and retirees looking to downsize. Owning or renting a condo has plenty of benefits, both in affordability and lifestyle - but it also has its downsides. With this in mind, I’m going to take you through some of the basics of living in a condo and tell you everything you need to know - let’s get started right away.

Rules, regulations, and restrictions

Before you buy a condo or decide to rent one out, it’s important to know what you are letting yourself in for. Most condos have a set of restrictions laid out in their Condo Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions regulations - also known as CC&Rs. These rules are usually set out by the condominium homeowners association to ensure that everyone gets on as well as possible, and ensures that everyone knows their own responsibilities when it comes to noise, behavior, and use of communal facilities. It’s fair to say that some condos have stricter rules than others, so it’s something you need to be aware of before buying or renting a unit.

Finding the right condo

If you are looking to buy a condo, the more work you put into the process, the better your rewards. Look around for a new launch condo, and you might find a lower price than one that is already established. Buying in an up-and-coming area is also a good idea, so keep your ears to the ground and listen out for any local government plans for regeneration in particular communities. Many investors use this tactic and then wait for a few years as the local area blooms regarding services, and they often make incredibly healthy profits. There’s no reason why you can’t do the same.

Understand the fees

The vast majority of condos will come with monthly management fees. These charges are reasonably small but account for any external maintenance that is needed, such as cleaning and general repair work. It's important to factor in these charges into your budget, however, so make sure that you understand how much you will be expected to pay. It’s also worth bearing in mind that these charges can change on an annual basis - if during one year there are extensive repairs, it can impact the cost of the next year’s maintenance expenses, for example.

Embrace the benefits

There are an enormous array of benefits for living in a condo. Typically, you will find that your block is right next to excellent facilities, such as schools, restaurants, and hospitals all with easy access. You can also expect good security. Most condos have a minimum of 2-3 entry points which are difficult to get through, and some will even have dedicated security guards, either onsite or watching remotely via video stream. Your condominium association can also be a huge benefit - it's like a self-governing management team that you can use if you are having any problems with a particular resident.

Decide on the perfect facilities

Another huge benefit of condos is that many new blocks will have a lot of services that you can use. Most will have a gym or swimming pool, for example, but there are plenty of examples of condos with some other, unbelievable facilities, too. You can find condos with chapels, mini cinemas, indoor sports courts, and much more besides. And while you will pay for these facilities through your maintenance charges, it’s still a lot cheaper than using a sports hall or swimming pool at your local health club. When you consider the vast expense of a couple who have an annual gym membership, there are plenty of savings you can make by embracing the condo lifestyle.

Understand the issues

It’s fair to say that some condos are better than others. So, be wary when you take a look at a prospective property before you sign your name on the dotted line of a mortgage agreement or rental contract. It’s a good idea to have your ears open and listen out for any potential noise problems. In some condos, you might be able to hear a little too much from your neighbors, both from the sides and above and below. If you own a car or vehicle, it’s important to ensure that you have a parking space, too. Most condo residents will be ineligible for a local parking permit because of the sheer number of people living there, and without a dedicated parking space you might struggle to find a space of an evening. It’s also worth pointing out that many condos operate a strict policy of no pets. Whether you are a dog lover or a cat lover, you might have to put your dreams of pet ownership on hold.

Buying to let?

If you are planning to purchase a condo property to rent out to tenants, make sure you do your research. Some condo blocks have strict restrictions on the number of units that are allowed rentals. Why? It’s simple, really. When a particular block has too many renters and not enough owners, it becomes less appealing to prospective buyers. It’s also worth pointing out that some lenders are incredibly fussy when it comes to offering mortgages for properties surrounded by many renters.

Be neighborly

You don’t have to be a genius to work out that when so many people are living in such close proximity, tempers can often flare up. It’s vital to be a good neighbor wherever you live, of course, but with condo living, you have more at stake. First and foremost, you have twice the amount of neighbors as the average homeowner - above and below you as well as to the side. Noise can travel quickly, so if you are the 24-hour party type, condo living may cause you a lot more problems than you have bargained for. Condos are often very community minded, too, which may seem strange to those who are used to living in remote areas with plenty of space. Everyone will tend to know something about your business - and may even make presumptions. The best way to deal with this, however, is to be friendly, follow the rules, and do a few good deeds for people as and when you see them. It doesn’t take much, and your reputation for being a good neighbor will be sealed.

Get involved

Ultimately, the condo lifestyle is not for everyone. But if you are prepared to get involved with your community, it can offer a fantastic opportunity for a nice life. In some condo blocks, you will be surrounded by all kinds of people, from retirees through to student renters. That said, other condos offer a solution for a particular lifestyle. For example, there are many gated communities for wealthy, young professionals, apartment blocks for ex-service people, and even family-friendly condos for parents with young children. Ultimately, there is plenty of choices out there, and each condo will have a full range of social, recreational, and entertainment activities geared towards whichever lifestyle you prefer.


As you can see, there is a broad range of pros and cons when it comes to living in a condominium. But, whether you are a retiree who is looking to downsize and wants access to a great community, or are a first-time buyer who can’t quite afford to buy a house, there is plenty of options out there.

Are you a condo dweller? If so, share your experiences - positive and negative - in the comments section below.

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