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Apartment vs Condo: Which Is Better?

Key Takeaways

Are you currently scouring the market for an apartment or condo to rent? If so, it’s likely crossed your mind if one type of dwelling is better than the other. The truth is that there’s no one correct answer for every tenant. It depends on your preferences, needs, lifestyle, and budget.

Published on May 6, 2022 | Updated on Apr 4, 2023

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At first glance, apartments and condos seem indistinguishable from one another – both offer individual living units in a building complex with shared common areas, and rent payment is due monthly.

However, there are some crucial differences between the two, which may sway you to opt for one over the other. As a result, it’s wise to get acquainted with the features and perks of each offer; that way, you can make an informed choice that results in the living arrangement best suited for you.

Let’s dig into some of the factors to consider before deciding whether an apartment or condo is the ideal place to rent.

How Much Are You Willing To Pay?

In general, you’ll find that renting a condo is more expensive than an apartment.

Condos usually offer a more comprehensive array of amenities than apartments, such as gym equipment, extra storage space, swimming pool, party room, concierge service, and ample outdoor lounge areas.

Quite simply, the more goodies you have access to, the more you can expect to pay in rent each month, whether you have a fixed or periodic tenancy agreement.

Many condos also are equipped with modern appliances and located in sought-after areas. These factors also help contribute to higher costs for the condo owner. They’ll pass on these costs to you through a steeper monthly rent.

Compared with condos, apartments generally offer fewer perks and amenities, lack the latest appliances and decor and are found in less desirable locales. All of these attributes translate to lower overall rent payments.

Who’s In Charge Of Property Management?

Apartments are typically owned by private corporations that employ people who have the knowledge and expertise to manage rental properties. With extensive experience in the industry, they can resolve any issues that might arise in your apartment unit quickly and competently.

These include leaky sinks, faulty appliances, burst pipes, bug infestations, and quarrels with other tenants.

The apartment owner/property manager has proven systems to keep things running smoothly, so you can rest easy knowing your apartment is in good hands. And, as long as you pay your rent on time, your landlord will generally leave you alone and respect your privacy.

On the other hand, when renting a condo, your landlord will most likely be a single individual or family looking to earn a passive income from their property.

They may impose strict rules and regularly visit you to check up on their property. Naturally, they wish to protect their investment, but we don’t blame you if you find this a tad bit intrusive!

In addition, your condo landlord may lack the experience, knowledge, and time to deal with any repairs and maintenance required to keep your unit functioning and may be helpless in the face of a legal dispute on the property.

How Important Are Amenities To You?

In most cases, condos offer superior amenities to apartments.

Depending on the condo unit you rent, you could have access to a gym, party room, swimming pool, numerous lounge areas, a pet washing station, and underground parking. That’s right – no more scraping the snow off your windshield in the morning!

Luxury condos may offer even more: a spa, sauna, valet parking, concierge service, golf simulators, business meeting rooms, tennis courts, roof-top terraces, and nearby lakes with sprawling lush jogging trails.

Conversely, apartments provide much less in the way of amenities. You can expect surface stall parking, an on-site laundry room, extra storage space, and maybe a no-frills gym with generic equipment. 

Expect to be disappointed if you’re hoping for a rock climbing wall like the one High Park Residence in Toronto offers!

Are You Looking For A Newer Building?

In general, apartments tend to be older, while condos are a newer type of dwelling, with many having been built after the 90s and steadily increasing in number due to rising demand.

As a result, you can expect more dated architecture if you opt for an apartment, and this aspect extends to appliances and other interior features.

Along the same lines, the building may suffer from aging plumbing and electrical work, which could be a hazard if the leasing company has neglected repairs and upgrades.

You may not find an apartment appealing if you value modern architecture, sleek designs, and structural integrity.

Conversely, condos offer modern design aesthetics, are packed with the latest appliances, and are less prone to structural and electrical issues.

How Critical Is The Location To You?

Condos cluster around the downtown core or nearby major transportation hubs and bustling commercial centres. As a result, travelling to work and doing your daily shopping can be a breeze- you may not even need a car to get around.

On the other hand, apartments are scattered all over the city. Not all are convenient location-wise, with some secluded from subway and bus stations, grocery stores, retail outlets, and entertainment centres.

How Much Do You Value Flexibility And Personalization?

A condo owner may be more personable and open to negotiation for your monthly rent payments. You may have the option of paying month-to-month if you don’t feel confident committing to a year-long lease.

They may also have liberal rules and offer you more freedom in customizing your unit. You may be allowed to keep a pet and alter your living space’s interior features and layout to add your personal touch.

However, keep in mind that you must still abide by the condo corporation’s bylaws – as a tenant, you’ll have no input when it comes to these rules.

With an apartment, your landlord could be a large leasing company that oversees many rental units spread across dozens of buildings. Since their primary goal is to maximize their profit, they won’t hesitate to hit you with a rent hike if they feel it’s warranted.

Apartment owners can be less receptive to negotiating your rent payments and granting concessions. They may also place severe restrictions on your ability to personalize the interior.

How Long Do You Plan On Renting Your Unit?

It’s prudent to contemplate how long you intend to remain in the apartment or condo.

Apartments offer fewer amenities and a generic design and provide fewer opportunities for interior customization. Thus, they’re best suited for those looking for a short-term living arrangement who plan to upgrade to a higher-end suite soon.

Alternatively, a condo provides a broader range of amenities, modern designs, newer appliances, and may allow for more customization in interior decorating. Thus, it’s ideal for tenants looking to settle in for an extended period – you might as well get the best bang for your buck if you’ll be staying put for a while.

What Are Some Of The Hidden Risks Associated With Apartments And Condos?

Since many are aimed at lower-income families and thus charge lower monthly rent, apartments are more likely to be equipped with lacklustre security features. As a result, there’s a greater risk of theft and break-and-enters, especially if the building is located in a crime-ridden neighbourhood.

Alternatively, condos usually offer superior security, such as state-of-the-art cameras, attentive concierge service, and 24/7 security monitoring.

Still, condos do come with their fair share of risks.

Your landlord may decide abruptly to sell the unit you’re renting, maybe because they secured a new job in a different city. As a result, you may have to scramble to find a new place to rent, which can be a major inconvenience.

This scenario is less likely to occur with an apartment since your landlord is a leasing company that wishes to extract as much rent revenue from the unit as possible. Thus, they have little intention to sell it.

Another hidden risk that may materialize in a condo environment is a sharp rent increase due to a special assessment levied by the condo corporation against the condo owners.

 A special assessment is a one-time, usually significant fee that condo owners incur to cover the cost of a major repair or upgrade.

Should this occur, horror stories like this one can emerge for condo owners. Not surprisingly, such an immense expense can result in your future rent payments soaring.

Final Thoughts

There’s no clear answer when choosing between an apartment and a condo. An apartment may be the right choice for your best friend or family member, but not for you – everyone’s situation is unique.

Condos are routinely touted as the superior option due to their sophisticated designs, the plethora of amenities they offer, and proximity to critical areas of the city. If these things matter to you, and you don’t mind paying higher monthly rent, a condo is likely a good match.

However, there’s little difference between the two dwellings in some instances, so don’t stress over the details. It’s possible to find an excellent apartment on par with or even exceeding in features and benefits some condo units offer.

Suppose your chief concern is keeping your housing costs low; plus, you don’t care about extravagant design and need little in the way of amenities. In that case, an apartment is an excellent option.

Before searching for the perfect place to rent, ensure you set aside some time to assess the factors that matter to you the most and let them guide your decision.

 Whether you prefer an apartment or condo, renting is a vastly more enjoyable and stress-free experience if your landlord is on board with Single-Key. Our unique platform makes paying your rent online a breeze, all of which we report to credit bureaus, giving your credit score a nice boost. Plus, you can postpone an upcoming rent payment if you’re strapped for cash at no cost to you!

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