6 Common Differences Between Condos And Apartments

The Difference Between a Condo and an Apartment

When it’s time to decide on a place to live, there are many factors to consider. Monthly expenses, location, size, number of rooms, storage space, and curb appeal are just a few variables that can change the moving process from exciting to stressful. While many people looking for a home may purchase an entire house, others with less need for space may choose to look for an apartment or a condo.

While they may seem similar to some, you need to be aware of some crucial differences between condos and apartments before making a final decision. Knowing these nuances is a great place to start before researching rental apartments or looking up listings for condo sales.

What is a condo?

What is a condo?

A condo, which is short for condominium, is a townhouse, a multi-story apartment building that provides its occupants with private residences and a community of other property owners. People who purchase condos own their property, much like someone who buys a house.

Condos are becoming increasingly popular because they are typically located in more desirable areas and provide just the right amount of space. Condos may be subject to specific rules set by multiple owners of the units within the larger property. These groups are known as HOAs or homeowners associations.

What is an apartment?

What is an apartment?

An apartment is a form of housing usually designated to a floor or a space within a larger building. Despite being part of a larger property, apartments have private entrances and separate living spaces. Like condos, apartments may contain less space than an entire home. Unlike condos, apartments are for rent through an owner. The occupant does not hold ownership over the property.

An apartment may sometimes include home appliances, cookware for residents, and utilities included in the lease. While apartments don’t have HOAs, they may have specific rules set by the landlord that tenants will have to follow.



1. Monthly Costs

The monthly budget for a condo may be similar to that of an apartment in many places. Still, it will vary depending on a lot of variables. When renting an apartment, the tenant must pay the landlord monthly. Utility costs may or may not be included in the rent payment, and each situation is different.

Furthermore, some apartments come already furnished and equipped with appliances, whereas others are empty. Furnishing becomes the responsibility of the renter. On the other hand, a condo owner will need to pay a monthly mortgage, property taxes which vary by state, and any possible fees due to the HOA for extra amenities. A larger payment may be due upfront, as in buying a house.

2. Financial Risks and Rewards

Someone who rents an apartment must sign an agreement with the property owner called a lease which usually sets the terms for rent and other relevant details. A lease is valid for an agreed-upon duration, often a year. The renter has no personal financial stake in their home. Whether renting or living in their property, Condo owners will build equity as they make mortgage payments. They could make economic gains if home values rise in their area.

3. Maintenance and Responsibilities

Apartment maintenance is the responsibility of the landlord. Things like broken furnaces, electrical problems, and structural damage must be addressed by the owner of the property rather than the renter. While this may seem like an attractive perk for some, it often means relying on a landlord who may or may not be quick and dependable when addressing the problems.

Those who choose to purchase a condo ARE the owners. They will take on the responsibility themselves when something goes wrong. They may do it at their own pace and upkeep the property however they want.

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4. Aesthetics

Suppose you’re someone with a particular taste. In that case, you will want to do your research before deciding on a condominium or an apartment. Apartment renters may be limited in the changes they can make to their interiors. At the very least, they may need written approval from a landlord before making significant changes like installing new countertops, making over a bathroom, or even painting the walls. Condominium owners can typically make these decisions freely.

5. Rules and Regulations

Condo owners are accountable to the rules of a group like an HOA. These rules could include limitations on making outdoor changes or colors. You should know about these things before committing to the property purchase. Apartment renters must follow the regulations of a landlord or association that runs the building.

6. Amenities

Condos often have nicer upkeep than apartments and may have more perks, such as community pools, gyms, and even sporting areas like tennis or basketball courts. Parking is typically part and parcel with owning a condo as well. While these amenities may cost more, they can be convenient for people who wish to take advantage of them. Apartments typically do not have private amenities like this. Apartment renters are usually free to use the local public amenities should they wish to use them.

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More Affordable than a Single-Family Home

Due to the size of the property, a condominium’s overall cost is less than that of a single-family house. This could mean easier mortgage approval from a lender and a lower monthly payment than the alternative.


Since you’ll own the condo, any payments you make toward it will build equity. This is hugely advantageous over time. Any improvements made to the property will also increase its value. When property values rise in that area, you’ll come out ahead too. Whether you live in the condo or rent it out, it’s an excellent investment.


Typically, a condo owner can decorate as they please and make upgrades to the existing interior of the unit. There’s also the freedom from potentially overbearing or unfair landlords and the financial freedom that comes with owning the space.


A condominium complex typically employs a door attendant to greet outsiders entering the building and may have call buttons for visitors. The neighbors also have a tighter sense of community since everyone must share the complex. All of these factors add to a greater sense of safety for everyone.

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As we mentioned, many people will want to take advantage of the amenities of a condo complex, such as gyms, pools, laundry rooms, and other possible shared conveniences.


Extra Fees

People who don’t emphasize using the local amenities or care much about the upkeep of the complex won’t like paying the extra costs of owning a condo. Often, these fees surprise folks who did not learn about the area beforehand.

HOA or Association Rules

While owning a condo does come with a certain level of freedom, the owner is still beholden to the rules of the governing body of the condominium complex.

Less Storage than a Single-Family Home

Since space is limited in a condominium, there’s less room for storage than you might find in a house, such as a basement, attic, or more oversized closets.

6 Common Differences Between Condos And Apartments

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Flexibility to Move

A lease often covers one year, but many landlords offer a month-to-month option. People who need temporary accommodations may want to explore this option while they search for more permanent residences.

Not Responsible for Maintenance

People who are not too handy when it comes to repairs or who don’t have a large enough budget to address unexpected issues may like the option of an apartment. Since they won’t be responsible for doing or paying for the work, they can rest easy knowing that the landlord will be there for any breakdowns.

Costs Less UpFront

Many landlords expect payment of the first month’s and last month’s rent, as well as a security deposit. Even then, this will typically work out to be less money than a down payment on a mortgage for a condominium.


Possible Rent Variance

Depending on the lease, a landlord may be able to raise the rent unexpectedly. A renter on a tight monthly budget won’t be able to handle this very well. If you don’t plan for this possibility, you could find yourself in a spot.

6 Common Differences Between Condos And Apartments

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Beholden to Landlord

In addition to the rent issue, some landlords may be slow to address repairs or other problems that arise. Getting as much information as possible on potential property owners before renting from them is always good.

No Equity

Of course, you won’t build up any equity with your monthly rent payments when renting a living space. Whenever you move out of the apartment, you’ll have no financial advantage for living there.


Whether to rent or purchase property is not an easy choice and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Considering all of these factors, people can make the best decision for them. After all, everyone’s situation is unique, and any choice about lifestyle is a personal one. So whether you decide to browse apartment listings or condo sales, be sure to consider all of the details to make the best decision for you.

6 Common Differences Between Condos And Apartments

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