Condo vs. Apartment: What’s the Difference?

August 15, 2022

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, housing is the most significant expense for American families with members aged 55 and older. This portion makes up most of the total expenditures in each household, so it’s no wonder that people are always looking for ways to save on their housing costs.

Especially when planning for retirement, choosing the right type of housing that will best suit your current and future needs is essential. And today, some of the most popular options are townhouses, condominiums (condos), and apartments.

How do you know which one is the right choice for you? It depends on your lifestyle, budget and needs. 

Here’s a quick overview of each type of housing to help you decide:

Condominiums (Condos)

luxury condominium with pool
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A condo is a unit that is a part of a larger building or community with shared common areas and facilities. An individual usually owns condos, and the owner has exclusive rights to use and occupy their particular unit.

Condos are typically found in urban areas and can come in various sizes, from small units to extensive square footage. They usually have amenities, such as swimming pools, gyms, and security systems.

Today, figures from the National and State Statistical Review for Community Association Data show that 73.9 million Americans live in condominiums or roughly 27 percent of the U.S. population. That means condos are becoming an increasingly popular housing option.

Apartments

An apartment is a housing unit that the owner typically rents out. It can come in different sizes and layouts, from studio apartments to spacious three-bedroom units. These housing units are usually found in proximity to each other, such as in a high-rise building called an apartment complex.

Apartments also have shared common areas and facilities that tenants can use. These may include a laundry room, fitness center, or rooftop deck. It’s a perfect space for those who still don’t have the necessary funds to buy their place or those who want to live in a prime location without the hassle of maintaining a property.

Some apartments are also designed to specific residents, like senior apartments.  These apartments are intended for people who are 55 and above who can live independently.

Townhouses

A townhouse is a housing unit attached to other units in a row. These properties usually have more square footage, suitable for families or individuals who need more space. Townhouses are the perfect middle ground between apartments and condominium homes for many people.

Townhouses are unique because they often come with exclusive outdoor areas like backyards and patios. And some townhouse complexes have exclusive amenities for residents, such as leisure areas and playgrounds. It’s an ideal option for those who want more privacy than an apartment but don’t want the hassle of maintaining a single-family home.

What is the difference between a townhouse and an apartment?

exterior of apartment building
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Because the two seem similar, it’s common to confuse a townhouse with an apartment. The main difference between the two is that a townhouse provides more privacy since the units are essentially detached as separate entities. On the other hand, an apartment is more closely attached to other units in the complex.

Although both properties must comply with homeowner association rules, townhouses usually offer more freedom in terms of building policies, landscaping, and interior renovations. And because of their flexibility, townhouses are a perfect option for those who prefer a more personalized space.

However, a hybrid of these two is also becoming popular in some areas known as “townhouse apartments.” These units still offer the perks of an apartment complex, such as maintenance and security services. But townhouse apartments also come with some benefits of a townhouse, like a private backyard.

What is the difference between a condo and a townhouse?

A significant difference between a condo vs. a townhouse is primarily its size. Condos are often smaller, and the layout is more efficient in using the space. Meanwhile, townhouses are more extensive with multiple stories.

Another key difference is that condos are usually part of a complex managed by a homeowner association, while townhouses can be found in regular neighborhoods.

Condo dwellers must also follow strict rules set by the association, such as guidelines on renovations, noise levels, and pet policies. Townhouses offer more flexibility in this area since homeowners can generally make changes to their property as they please.

What is the difference between an apartment and a condo?

When considering an apartment vs. a condo, one of the most significant differences is that condos are usually owner-occupied, while an apartment owner usually rents it out.

Condo owners also have to pay monthly association dues, which often cover maintenance and repair costs, amenities, and security services. Meanwhile, renters usually have to pay their monthly rent and utilities.

Another difference between a condo and an apartment is that condos often come with more amenities and features, such as a gym, swimming pool, or concierge services. And although some apartments also have these features, they are usually not as extensive.

Is there a difference between maintenance charges for a condo and an apartment?

exterior of apartment building
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Condo fees and apartment maintenance costs are both used to cover the expenses of common areas and amenities. However, condo fees are generally higher since they must also cover the cost of insurance and repairs for the exterior of the building. Additionally, condo owners usually pay a special assessment fee whenever improvements or repairs need to be made to the property.

Apartment maintenance costs are typically lower since the expenses are shared among all the tenants in the complex. And in some cases, the landlord may pay for repairs and improvements. So when considering the difference between a condo and an apartment, you should take into account the fees associated with each.

Apartment vs. Condo vs. Townhouse: Which is Better?

When deciding between an apartment vs. condo vs. townhouse, one of the first things to consider is its potential to appreciate. 

Condo values are usually appreciated at a faster rate than apartments and townhouses since they are considered part of the modern real estate market. And because of their limited supply, condos often have a higher demand.

Townhouses also appreciate at a reasonable rate, but they don’t always offer the same amenities and features as a condo. Nonetheless, its layout and design provide a good resell capability because of its family-friendly appeal.

On the other hand, apartments may not appreciate as quickly since they are usually in a lower price range. But they offer more affordability and flexibility, making them perfect for those who are just starting or those who don’t want to commit to long-term investment.

Condo or Apartment?

So what’s the difference between a condo and an apartment? 

Both are types of housing that come with different pros and cons. It depends on your needs and preferences as to which one would be a better fit for you. Do you want more space and flexibility? Or do you prefer a smaller, more efficient living space? These are some of the things you need to consider when making your decision. Whichever you choose, make sure that it’s the right fit in the long term.

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