Updated on 10/13/17 from an article originally published 6/29/15.
How do you know if it’s time for you to move from a house to a condo? For starters, if you find yourself using less and less of your home, this could be a good indicator that moving to a smaller place could simplify your life. Condos offer a simplicity and convenience that even the most luxurious apartment rentals can’t compare.
Nonetheless, downsizing to a condo has its fair share of drawbacks and considerations. Prioritizing these factors is key. Seniors, empty nesters and world travelers benefit immensely from learning more about the pros and cons of condo living before making an offer.
What’s more, condo living isn’t reserved for couples and singles only. Even large families might find themselves living in a condo or co-opt. Many families relocate from a suburban house to a city condo for a job or to a beach condo for a lifestyle change.
No matter the reason for your downsizing, this article will help you navigate how to make the transition to a condo as seamless as possible.
Pros of Moving into a Condo
1. Less Maintenance
If most of your time is spent away from the house, condo living provides the luxury of significantly less maintenance. Consider this; you’ll no longer have to spend your weekends mowing the lawn, pressure washing the driveway and weeding the flower beds.
2. Less Space = Less Chores
We can’t stress this enough, but owning less can make you happier. When you have fewer things and fewer rooms, your chore time will be cut in half. Spend that time doing activities that enrich your life instead.
3. Onsite Amenities
Every condo community is a little different, but there’s a good chance you’ll find access to varying amenities. These might include a pool, tennis courts, gyms, community rooms… The list is extensive.
4. Strong Sense of Community
Living in such close quarters with other people harbors a sense of community that is different than what you’d find in a typical neighborhood. Many condo residents take great pride in their community, and their neighbors can become close friends.
Cons of Downsizing from a House to a Condo
1. Not Enough Space
If you’re moving from a house to a condo, there’s no doubt that the limited amount of space can be hard to adjust to at first. If you have a lot of hobbies and items you don’t want to part with, moving to a condo will be a challenge.
Solution — Moving to a smaller home means you’ll have less space for all of your belongings. To make this work, you need to declutter your living quarters extensively. Take a few weeks to pay close attention to the things you use on a daily basis. Could they all fit within a condo with some careful storage solutions? We’re betting the answer is yes.
2. Condos Can Be More Expensive
The price for condos per square foot can be higher than single family homes. Often what you’re paying for with a condo are convenience and location. Your mortgage payment could increase when all things are considered.
Solution — Figure out what your priorities are and budget accordingly. If you want to be in a condo right on the beach, discover what your top dollar budget is and search in locations that have condos priced within that range. Remember, buying a condo is an investment. With the right real estate agent, you should be able to find a unit that will appreciate in value during your stay.
3. HOA Fees
Most condo communities have Home Owner’s Association Fees. Even some single family house communities have these. They work to cover expenses like lawn cutting, pool cleaning, etc.
Solution — Find a condo community that has HOA fees that include amenities you will use and appreciate. If one condo community is a stickler about keeping the exterior freshly painted every year and you could care less about outdoor appearances, maybe pick a different community. The same goes for if a condo community has a spectacular pool they spend a lot of money maintaining, but you hate to swim.
4. Noisier than Single Family Neighborhoods
If you are downsizing from a spread-out suburban neighborhood, moving to a condo can be an extremely different experience in regards to noise. You’ll be sharing walls and floors/ceilings with your neighbors.
Solution — If noise is a primary concern, consider an end unit in a side-by-side building. This way you are only sharing one set of walls. Also, noise canceling headphones work wonders when you need to get work done in complete silence. Otherwise, have the right expectations and complain gently if any neighbor is disrespectful with noise past a reasonable hour.
How to Choose the Right Condo
If you’re considering a move to a condo community, there are some steps you can take to make sure you choose the condo that’s right for you.
- Review the financials of the condo association to make sure it is financially healthy.
- Read the association’s rules, regulations and bylaws well before making an offer.
- Look over the community newsletter. If they don’t have one, try to find out why.
Moving to a smaller space means you’ll be getting rid of a lot. However, don’t toss everything out just yet. If you might move back into a house one day, consider storing items in a self-storage unit. Items like power tools, lawn mowers and outdoor furniture can be expensive to replace if you end up having a yard again in the future.