Or is it? Condo/townhome or single family home? Many buyers start their search with this question. Millennials and baby boomers alike wonder which lifestyle will suit them at this time in their lives. Is there a right answer?
Over the last 18 years I have lived in 3 single family homes and 3 condos/townhomes, so I am well suited to answer this question. Or at least provide some insight into the options. I am currently in a townhome so let’s start there.
There is a lot to like about living in a condo, especially during the summer as I have no yard to mow or garden to tend in this heat. Basically the exterior is maintenance free. The HOA keeps the common space planted and tidy and any upkeep or damage is also taken care of by the HOA. Every spring however I have an urge to garden so like everyone else I was at the gardening center buying plants and soil. The only difference, my plants are in containers on my front deck. I could do more on my rooftop deck but I know my limitations and those plants would expire from lack of water. Out of sight out of mind.
Another thing I like is the interaction I have with other denizens of the area. Because condos and townhomes create a denser environment, versus single family homes 20 to 500 feet apart, you run into your neighbors more often. Most days I speak to 3, 4 or more neighbors as we’re out and about on our daily business. Many condo complexes also have shared spaces to be more engaged with your neighbors – pools, tennis courts, workout rooms, lounges, etc. My building has a market and deli and soon a restaurant where you are sure to see a neighbor or two.
My Steps Add Up
Now I have a dog and with no yard I have to walk her at least 3 times a day. Now some people might find that to be a negative about living in a condo, I find it helpful for getting me out and about more often. Which adds steps to my daily count without even thinking about it. It also provides me more opportunities to interact with my neighbors and my neighborhood. Betty White, my dog, also loves it because she gets lots of loving when we’re on our walks.
Peace and Quiet in the City
I often get asked, ‘but what about the noise, don’t you hear your neighbors?’ No I really don’t, most modern buildings are built with a lot of sound proofing in them so it’s rare to hear your neighbors. And because there no yards, there are no leaf blowers going off at 6 am on Saturday or Sunday morning. So I might argue that living in a condo is quieter.
That Guy Could Live Anywhere
Isn’t there always a pesky neighbor in the HOA that makes everyone’s lives miserable? Yes there may be, but rarely. Mostly everyone is really nice and wants the best and to live in harmony. And that odd person out that doesn’t think about anyone but themselves lives in condos and in single family homes, you know the guy that doesn’t take care of his yard or if he does, he does it when you’re having a party in your backyard. Or the neighbor that has an almost dead tree that’s about to fall on your house but refuses to take it down.
Not All HOA Fees Are The Same
When considering a condo it is important to pay attention to the HOA as they all cover difference things. Some just cover like grounds maintenance and insurance. Some are more expensive because the community has more amenities including elevators, pools, fitness clubs, concierge and others. Some also cover water, cable and other utilities. It is important to understand what is covered. Some community with single family homes also charge HOA fees.
Every time I live in a single family home I plan on creating a backyard oasis. To date it hasn’t happened but if I ever decide to slow down, stop traveling and just stay home it may happen. But if you love spending time in your garden or riding around on a lawn mower for a couple of hours, a single family home is the only place you will get the space to do that. Obviously you can hire someone to do that for you but how is that different than paying an HOA fee?
Houses are also great for keeping a lot of stuff. Condos are notorious for limited storage space. Though I am lucky and have a large walk-up attic in my current place. Houses have basements, attics, garages and often lots of closets to keep the stuff you accumulate over the years. That is if you want to keep it all. Living in a condo has been useful in me keeping my accumulation of things to a minimum.
Neither is Good or Bad
I still haven’t decided if my forever home will be a condo or a single family home, but the good thing is that either of them is a good answer. I think everyone can make a real home in a condo or a house and be very happy. I’m leaning toward staying in a condo for while, especially since I hope to do a lot of traveling and leaving a condo unattended seems safer somehow. With my neighbors just a few feet away, I know they will watch over my place while I am gone.
If you’d like to explore a new living arrangement please let me know, I would love to share my experience and help you find a perfect home.