Condo vs. Townhouses: What Are the Differences?

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Marisol Pereira · Writer · Sep 28, 2020
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    Choosing a new home is an exciting thing, but nowadays there are many options out there, and real estate lingo can make things confusing. First-time buyers often find themselves debating between a condo and a townhouse without really knowing what sets them apart.

    Condo vs Townhouse  

    Condos: A condominium is a single residential unit within a larger building. While the specific architecture may vary depending on the place, a condo usually comes in the form of a building with several floors. Each floor can house a single or several residential units. Condos are usually part of a complex, and the HOA (homeowners association) owns and manages the exterior of the properties and common areas.
    • Townhouses: The best term to describe a townhouse is “small house.” Townhouses are usually two floors tall, but unlike traditional family homes, they share the lateral walls with neighbors. They can be part of a complex or be independent. 

    Key Differences between condos and townhouses 

    Privacy:
    • Condos: Privacy is not one of the condos’ biggest strengths. With most of them having neighbors above, below, and sometimes even next to you, there’s not much distance separating homes. 
    • Townhouses: These can provide you with significantly more privacy. With only having neighbors on either side of the home, noise complaints are a lot less likely. 
    Freedom:
    • Condos: They are subject to a lot more rules than townhouses. These can include parking rules, curfews, storage rules, and prohibitions on any outside renovation to units. While somewhat of a hassle, these rules help the HOA maintain order and peaceful co-living between its residents. 
    • Townhouses: Fewer rules apply to townhouse living. These communities may sometimes apply some parking rules (such as guest parking or exterior renovations), but overall, residents are free to use their homes as they wish. 
    Amenities:
    • Condos: Being part of a HOA can have its perks. Condos usually have some fantastic common areas for all of their residents to enjoy, such as a pools, tennis courts, event rooms, and gyms. 
    • Townhouses: Depending on whether they’re part of a community or not, townhouses can also provide residents with some amenities. These usually include a pool or a kids’ playground. 
    Fees:
    • Condos: All the cool amenities mentioned above come with a price. Condo residents usually pay a monthly fee to cover maintenance costs; these vary by location but are generally between $100 to $400 a month. 
    • Townhouses: If the townhome is located within a community, chances are residents pay a fee for the maintenance of common areas. Although, with fewer amenities, these are usually lower than what you would pay in a condo. If the townhouse is not part of a community, no fee is charged, and residents are responsible for maintaining the areas surrounding their homes. 
    Ownership:
    • Condos: There are no hard rules when it comes to ownership; however, condos are most likely to be rented than bought. 
    • Townhouses: Much like condos, these can also be rented. However, they are most likely to be purchased, especially by young families seeing as they make great first homes. 

    Which Is Better for You?

    Overall, townhouses can be a great first purchase for a young family. They provide you with privacy and much of the advantages of a traditional family home, but for a lower price. Besides, having a backyard can be a lifesaver when you have kids. 
    However, townhouses can be more expensive than condos. So, if you’re working with a smaller budget, or perhaps you’re not quite ready to commit to purchasing a home, a condo would be a better choice. These can also be easier to maintain if you don’t have a lot of free time on your hands, seeing as the HOA does a lot of the work.  
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