Condo vs. Apartment: Understanding the Differences

Perhaps you’re young and are looking for your own place to live.  You’ve moved along in your career enough to know you could afford to own something in your name but aren’t sure if you’re quite ready to take a leap and buy a house.  This leaves you facing the decision of taking an intermediate step of buying your own smaller place or renting somewhere. 

What is a Condo?

A condo, or condominium, is a private residence that can be owner-occupied or rented by a landlord to a tenant.  It is typically located within a residential building and part of a larger community.

What is an Apartment?

When most people think about renting, they tend to think about apartments.  An apartment is a single unit inside a multi-family building, multi-unit complex, or other development which is owned by someone other than the occupant.

What is the Difference Between a Condo and Apartment?

In the purest sense, condos represent a form of ownership of one dwelling in the proximity of other units.  There are multiple forms of condos, such as townhouse condos, apartment-style condos, and even detached condos.

Comparing a Co-Op vs. Condo

In a co-op, you do not own your unit.  The entire building is owned by a corporation and when you buy in, you purchase shares in the corporation.  These shares come with the privilege of using a designated unit along with the common areas of the building. Unlike a condo, but like a privately-held startup company, the current co-op shareholders usually have the right to veto any sale of shares from one owner to another interested buyer.

Amenities for Condo-Living and Apartment-Living

Depending on the condo or apartment, amenities can vary.  Upscale condos offer numerous on-site amenities like a fitness center, pool, hot tub, grill, gated parking and more. However, these amenities are not exclusive to condos.  Apartment buildings can offer similar benefits.  

Maintenance Responsibilities

For a condo, it is the owner’s responsibility for handling all maintenance, renovations, and overall unit status.  The condo association handles repairs over common areas. In apartments or rented condos, the repairs, upgrades and maintenance are the responsibility of the apartment or condo owner, not the tenant.  This benefit attracts many people to rent.

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