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What Is the Difference between An Apartment and a Condo?

When it comes to deciding on housing options, you might be a little confused as to how apartments and condominiums differ. In many cases, you will find them similar since they share walls with neighbors, they come with no land ownership, and they tend to be one of a number of interconnected units. In truth, the only recognizable difference between these two types of properties is the fact that apartments are rented by their inhabitants whereas condos are owned by the people who reside in them. And yet, under the surface there are a lot more things that separate these two categories of dwelling. Here are just a few differences you might want to be aware of before you decide whether you want to sign a lease for an apartment or lay down the cash for a condo.

If you’ve ever lived in an apartment you know that one of the best parts of the deal is that you don’t have to handle any maintenance on your own. While you’ll almost certainly have to lay out a security deposit to cover any damage you may cause during your tenure, the building owners are responsible for hiring a superintendent (or super) or outside vendors to fix any interior problems, including plumbing, electrical, pests, and more. Any time you encounter problems your landlord is on the hook to have them fixed for you as per standard rental agreements.

If you own a condo, on the other hand, you are generally on the hook for any internal issues with the property, so long as they aren’t caused by external elements. For example, a leaking pipe that causes damage to flooring and walls will be your responsibility to fix, just like any other homeowner. But if the roof leaks, causing interior damage, chances are good that your homeowners association (HOA) will foot the bill since you pay them a monthly fee to tend to the exterior of all the condos in a given unit.

That said, condo owners also have a little more latitude where internal decorations and even renovations are concerned. While you obviously can’t change the exterior of your condo, you can knock out walls to create an open floor plan, add any kind of flooring and paint you want, and change out appliances if you so desire. In short, you have free rein to remodel and decorate your home interior any way you choose, although you’ll still have to adhere to building codes and you may have to give your HOA a head’s up, as well as inform the neighbors of impending construction. However, those who live in apartments enjoy no such freedom when it comes to decorations. They may even be dinged on their deposit if they hang paintings (thus leaving nail holes in the walls).

So whether you’re scoping apartments in Melbourne and Montreal or you’re looking at condos in Minneapolis and Madrid, it pays to know just what you’ll get out of each living situation. One last thing to consider is longevity. If you’re only planning to stay a few months or a couple of years, leasing an apartment may be the best solution. But if your tenure in a locale is bound to be long-term, you might as well put down roots by purchasing a property and secure the potential for a return on investment when you finally decide to sell and move up to a more traditional house.

 
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