If you or your aging parent are looking for a more manageable living space than your current home, a condo may be a great option. However, condo living isn’t for everyone. Here are 10 pros and cons to consider before you pursue condo living.
Pro: Little or no maintenanceOne major perk of condo living is that the HOA handles most aspects of home maintenance and repairs. This usually includes lawn maintenance, and may also include some degree of interior and exterior maintenance and repair. Be sure to ask about what’s covered before you purchase a condo.
Con: HOA feesMost of the perks of living in a condo don’t come free—condo owners are obligated to pay dues to cover the costs of the amenities and services. Lawn and building maintenance, pool upkeep, and well maintained common areas, for instance, are paid for with HOA fees.
Fees can vary greatly between complexes, so be very clear about them before you put an offer on a condo. In some cases, the cost of the fees may outweigh the savings and perks associated with condo living—especially if the amenities don’t appeal to you.
Pro: SecurityMany condominium complexes are gated and monitored. There may also be a staffed front desk, as well as security staff on premises. This can provide added safety and security for singles and older adults who live alone or travel frequently.
Con: Less privacyMost condos share a wall with at least one other unit. Whether you’re looking at townhouses, single-story cluster homes, or apartment-style condo buildings, you can count on having a neighbor in close proximity. This means that other people may notice your comings and goings, so if that kind of privacy is important to you, then a condo may not be your best option.
The population density may also result in a noisy environment. Even if the place doesn’t seem noisy at all when you’re looking at it, that could change quickly with new neighbors.
Pro: AffordabilityCondos may offer a solution for people who want to live in areas that might otherwise be unaffordable, such as walkable shopping areas and city centers. In addition, many condos offer upscale design details that you may not find in houses at a similar price point, such as granite countertops, hardwood floors and skylights.
Con: Parking proximitySome condo complexes offer private garages directly underneath or behind the corresponding units. But more commonly, parking is in a separate lot or garage located near the building. This could be an uncomfortable inconvenience that is especially problematic for aging adults with mobility challenges.
Pro: AmenitiesWhether you’re looking at age-restricted communities or all-ages condo complexes, condominiums often offer a variety of attractive amenities. From common areas such as rooftop terraces, gardens and grilling areas to fitness centers, pools and game nights, condo complexes often provide social activities that are literally steps from home. Some amenities may appeal especially to aging adults, including grocery delivery and shared transportation to popular shopping destinations.
Con: Limited RentalsWhat separates condos from apartments is that each condo is privately owned and people have personally invested in each unit. This often leads to properties that are better cared for than typical apartments are, with lower turnover.
To ensure that the complex remains cared for, and to minimize turnover, many HOAs impose limits on how many units can be available for rental at once—if at all. This may be a problem if you or your parents plan to one day transition into age-restricted housing, and want to rent a condo in the meantime. Additionally, it could limit the possibility of renting the property to generate income later in life.
Pro: AccessibilityCondominium communities geared specifically toward aging adults may offer special features to accommodate their needs, including alert buttons, support rails and wheelchair accessibility in bathrooms. Other features may be potentially life-saving, such as increased accessibility for medical professionals.
Con: AccessibilityThis point is listed above as a pro, because in the right circumstances, condos really can offer optimal accessibility. On the other hand, not all condos offer accessibility accommodations, and the ones that do may have limited availability due to high demand.
Whether you’re looking for a simpler living space or for housing that will support your needs as you age, condos have a lot to offer. But they also have drawbacks, so it’s important to weigh your choices carefully—especially if you’re looking to buy or rent long-term.
About the Author Phil Karp's 25 years in the real estate industry give him insight and experience about the traits necessary for a successful career in the field. As Senior Manager of Brokerage Services at Owners.com, he works with an array of new and experienced homebuyers and homeowners. Phil lives in the Atlanta area with his wife and rescue dog, Dakota.