Apartment vs. Condo | The Difference Explained

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Most people confuse the terms “apartment” and “condo” to mean the same. However, there are some crucial differences between them. Read on to know more. 

It isn’t uncommon for people to get overwhelmed by the process of deciding on a new home. In fact, the plethora of options makes the task all the more daunting. Have you come across the popular terms “apartment” and “condo” and are wondering what the differences are between them? 

Well, you’ve come to the right place.

In today’s guide, we will tell you everything you need to know about the difference between an apartment and a condo. Understanding the terms and their differences can help you make the right choice when selecting a suitable future home. 

So without further delay, shall we begin?

Difference Between Apartments And Condos

What Is An Apartment?

Let us begin by telling you what an apartment is defined as.

An apartment is a self-contained unit, also known as a “flat” in many countries worldwide. It is typically found in a strata-titled property. Apartments are generally owned and managed by a property management company or a single entity. 

There are several units contained within a complex that is leased out to individual tenants. As such, you may find yourself surrounded by neighbors (which may be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you view it).

Every tenant must follow the same basic guidelines, rules, and restrictions put in place by the owner. Furthermore, tenants are expected to report to one common property manager.

What Is A Condo?

A condo, which is the shortened term for “condominium,” differs from apartments in one primary aspect – ownership. Tenants typically rent a private residence which they gain ownership of for a specific period. The unit is owned by an individual instead of an association or a committee. 

So, in a condo, you will have one landlord to whom you must report. Unlike an apartment, the landlord or owner of a condo has the absolute right over who they wish to rent their unit to, how much they want to charge for it, and other vital decisions. 

Although all the tenants within a condo building share some responsibilities and duties, mainly for the common areas, their individual units are entirely under their control. 

Comparing An Apartment And A Condo

Understanding the clear differences between an apartment and a condo is imperative. Doing so will help you decide which one is better suited for your requirements. Here is all you need to know about them. 

  1. Ownership 

First and foremost, let us talk about ownership in a bit more detail. This is undoubtedly the most important distinction between an apartment and a condo. 

More often than not, you cannot “own” an apartment – you can only rent it for a specified time period. Most apartment complexes host multiple units, all of which are managed by a hired management company. 

On the other hand, condos are owned and managed by an individual owner or landlord. They may also lie under the umbrella of the HOA (Home Owners Association) of the condo community. Although they rely on a property management company for assistance, the condo is loaned and not rented out by the tenant. 

Essentially, when you rent an apartment, the property manager appointed by the owners’ association is in charge of the management of all the units. However, when you rent a condo, the individual condo owner is in charge of the management and acts as your landlord. 

One of the most significant advantages of ownership (in the case of a condo) versus renting (in the case of an apartment) is the ability to customize your space. Apartment tenants are often restricted by rules and guidelines on how much they can customize or make semi-permanent changes in their space.

However, when you loan a condo, it is possible to customize it to your best ability. It is an excellent opportunity to let your creative side run wild. 

  1. Amenities 

Another factor to consider when choosing between a condo and an apartment is the amenities available. More often than not, apartments come with a typical roster of available amenities. Moreover, it can be hard to say which amenities are available for free and which ones aren’t, as they differ amongst apartment complexes. 

That said, there are a few basic amenities which you can expect in most apartments, like –

  • Parking spots
  • Gym
  • Outdoor pool
  • Laundry room
  • Community center

You may find more luxurious apartments which offer amenities such as concierge services, a dog park, a library, a lounge, and outdoor areas. 

The expenses to maintain these amenities are shared by all the flat owners of the complex. However, any repairs and maintenance within an apartment is the tenant’s sole responsibility, excluding unique circumstances. 

Unfortunately, what is lacking in most apartments is a personal touch. This is something you are likely to find in a condo because the landlord is also the owner. 

Furthermore, most condos will have all the amenities mentioned above, with a few extras thrown in. These may include things like –

  • Upgraded flooring
  • Granite countertops 
  • Concierge services 
  • Fitness center
  • Indoor and outdoor pool 

Although these amenities are standard, you may not find all (or any) of them in every condo. It depends on the apartment or condo you choose and the specific amenities they wish to provide. 

That being said, the personal touch that you will find in condos is one of the biggest contributing factors to people preferring them over apartments. 

  1. Cost Of Renting

Most people looking to move into a new place are under the misconception that condos cost more than apartments. While this may be the case for many condos, it is not a hard and fast rule. 

If you are looking at condos and apartments in the same area, you may find them similarly priced. Moreover, the same applies if the amenities offered are similar.

That said, since most condos come with a few additional amenities and better, upgraded interiors, they tend to cost slightly more than apartments. In the case of a condo, you essentially “get what you pay for.” 

However, you will have to pay a basic maintenance fee for all the amenities offered by apartment complexes, whether you use them or not. 

How Do You Pay Rent?

Another significant difference between the cost of renting an apartment and a condo is the way you pay rent. Here are some vitals to know about it.

Apartment

More often than not, you have to pay monthly rent at the end of each month for renting an apartment. This can be paid online or via check. However, any additional utilities you subscribe to, such as internet, gas, electricity, etc., have to be paid separately to the respective providers at the end of the month. 

Condo

Once you rent a condo, you are a part of the condo community’s Home Owners Association (HOA.) You are required to pay for maintenance of the common areas, shared amenities, utilities, and additional services you opt for. This is part of the HOA fees you are required to pay. 

However, in most cases, condo owners do not have the convenience of paying through online portals. This has been the case for years now, and it may be changing recently, so make sure that you speak to your landlord about it. 

  1. Maintenance 

Another vital factor to consider when choosing between an apartment and a condo is its maintenance. Not only does the difference lie in who pays for most of the maintenance, but also how fast the issue is handled. More often than not, maintenance issues in a condo typically take longer to resolve than those in an apartment. 

Let’s take a look at the differences.

Apartment 

One of the biggest benefits of living in an apartment is the ability to take advantage of the dedicated maintenance staff that has been appointed. Other than exceptional circumstances, most apartment complexes offer the advantage of around-the-clock maintenance, be it in the form of plumbers, electricians, maintenance specialists, and others. 

Furthermore, the best part about it is that you aren’t required to pay anything extra for the services. 

In case of any repair or maintenance issues in your apartment (which you cannot fix yourself), the first logical step is to contact the property owner. Similarly, you can also contact the property management company or put in a formal request through an online portal (or via the telephone). 

More often than not, the request is addressed almost immediately. This is especially true in the case of issues that may affect other residents and apartments in the complex. 

That being said, there is less room for creativity or DIY repairs. As such, most apartment managers will insist on certain standards and regulations being practiced. In these cases, you have no choice but to contact the on-call maintenance for repairing the issue, as you are not permitted to fix it yourself (especially if you use products outside of what the apartment owner will allow).

Condo

Maintenance and repairs are handled differently in condos. Either the landlord, owner or tenant is responsible for maintenance and repairs within the unit. 

Keep in mind that the homeowner’s association typically handles maintenance issues in the common areas. This isn’t something you need to worry about, as it is not any individual condo owner’s sole responsibility. 

Although the landlord typically covers most of the cost of any repairs and maintenance within the condo, this isn’t always the case. You may end up with out-of-pocket expenses, which can be annoying, not to mention costly, for some homeowners. 

Now, if we talk about the response time, there is no strict rule. It may so happen that the response time is quicker in the case of condos since the landlord does not have the responsibility of the entire building on his shoulders. Conversely, it may also happen that response time is slower compared to apartments. 

Which Is The Right Choice For You?

We have highlighted some of the crucial factors that distinguish apartments from condos. As you may have noticed, most of the aspects of both units are similar, which is why it is a common mistake for people to confuse between the two. 

However, a set of vital factors marks the difference between them. Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand these differences better. 

That said, if you still haven’t made a choice between the two for your next home, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. 

Here are a few essential factors to consider when picking between an apartment and a condo for your next move. 

  1. The Relationship Shared With Your Landlord

In the case of a condo, you are likely to share a more personal relationship with your landlord. This is because you will interact with them on a one-to-one basis regularly, pay rent directly to them, contact them for maintenance and repair issues, and speak to them personally about rules, restrictions, and guidelines. 

However, in the case of apartments, you have very little interaction with only one person. You will likely interact with the property manager on a regular basis, but alongside them, other members of the management committee as well. 

This includes the assistant property manager, leasing agents, maintenance and repairers, etc. 

  1. The Duration Of Stay

Are you planning on moving to a new place as a long-term plan? If yes, then opting for a condo may be the better option for you. Loaning a condo is a better investment and provides more value in terms of what you pay for. Furthermore, let’s not forget the amenities and facilities you can enjoy in a condo, as well as the luxury to personalize your space. 

  1. Cost 

As we mentioned earlier, the cost of an apartment and condo can be surprisingly similar, especially if you’re scouting in the same area. That being said, you’ll find that condos often cost slightly more than apartments. This may be because of the added facilities you get to enjoy, alongside the question of ownership vs. renting. 

Of course, you may come across certain condos that cost less than apartments, which can make the choice confusing. As we said, there is no hard and fast rule about it, so it is best to explore your options before picking the most suitable one. 

Moreover, it is evident that a luxury condo will cost much more than even some of the best high-rise apartments in the area. This is something you should consider. 

Note that if you are renting an apartment, you will most likely have to pay a security deposit, one month’s rent, and additional charges for the first month. All this can easily add up to three months’ rent, so be prepared. 

  1. Facilities

The biggest reason most people looking for a place to move consider condos vs. apartments are the amenities offered. Although most of the basic amenities are similar, it may be noted that condos generally provide a little extra compared to apartments. 

People often get lured by the aspect of additional facilities at first and impulsively opt for a condo. However, they may fail to use these facilities over time, such as using the fitness center, concierge services, library, etc. 

When weighing the pros and cons and looking at the amenities offered, consider what you are likely to use over the long term and what you aren’t. This will help you make a more informed choice about your next move. 

Summing It Up 

Now that you are aware of most of the pros, cons, and differences between apartments and condos, our work here is done. 

We hope this guide helped you understand the distinction better. Now, it’s time to narrow down the properties you want to consider as your next home. Remember to weigh the pros and cons carefully before choosing. 

Let us know whether you like the concept of a condo or an apartment and which one you picked. Don’t forget to leave a comment below, and stay tuned for more such guides. 

Stay safe!

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