Condo vs. Apartment: Which Should You Rent?

There are pros and cons to each, and the differences can make for two very different living experiences for renters.


The difference between apartments and condos can make or break your living experience, depending on what you’re looking for. Apartments and condos have differences in ownership, management, amenities, maintenance, rules, and costs. There are pros and cons to each, and the differences can make for two very different living experiences for renters. Debating between a condo vs. apartment? We’ll break it down for you.

Typically, people associate rentals with apartments. However, as you search for the perfect rental, you’re likely to stumble across some upscale condominiums as well.

What is a Condo?

The main difference between apartment and condo is the ownership. A condo is a privately unit owned by an individual in a complex with similar units. Each unit is probably owned by someone different. You may not notice the difference between a condo and apartment building at first glance, and many people assume they can only buy condominiums. In reality, condo owners frequently take on a landlord role and rent out their unit. When you rent in a residential building with condos, the person who owns the unit is your landlord. Meanwhile, apartment buildings offer numerous rentals under the same management or ownership.

Condos usually offer shared amenities and common spaces like gyms, pools, rooftop terraces, and laundry units.

Homeowners’ Association (HOA)

Condos are managed under a homeowners’ association (HOA) made up of unit owners from the building. The roles are on a volunteer basis. The HOA takes on the decision-making with regard to the building’s common areas, upkeep, rules, and services. An HOA may also decide to employ a property management service to maintain the building, but the HOA are still making the decisions about the property.

An HOA also establishes standard rules and expectations of all owners within the shared community. HOAs streamline and guarantee a well-kept and well-functioning residential space.

When a condominium building’s shared amenities need updates, break, or require replacement, the HOA works together to ensure the issue is resolved. The HOA members may also serve on different committees ranging from repairs to collecting dues. Different HOA members may step-in on different projects or issues depending on the issue that needs to be addressed.

Shared amenities and spaces also comes with financial obligations for their upkeep. Although the HOA itself is a volunteer committee, the residents of the building fund HOA fees through fixed, monthly dues. In return, a homeowners’ organization guarantees the upkeep of common areas, exteriors, and other shared structures.

Additionally, HOA members must follow a set of “CC&Rs”: Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions. Those include regulations that may restrict what owners are able to do to their property. Those regulations can range from acceptable door decorations to not leaving bikes in hallways or balconies.

Your lease will outline all of the HOA rules and regulations. It’s important to read the lease carefully before signing it.

Some condominium landlords may also include a clause that holds the tenant responsible for paying monthly HOA fees. Though many landlords who rent out condos cover these costs themselves, not all do. Make sure you know what you’re obligated to pay ahead of time.

What’s the Difference Between Apartments and Condos?

HOA Fees and Utilities

You don’t need to pay HOA fees when you rent an apartment. However, leasing an apartment still entails a monthly rent payment and utility payments. These payments cover services that your rent excludes, including gas, electricity, cable, and internet. Plan ahead, as your average utility bill can get pricey.

Condo owners typically manage utilities themselves and then pass on the cost to their renters. Renters can expect a flat fee for utilities that are included in your monthly rent.

Layout and Floor Plans

Apartments usually have similar layouts to every other unit in the building. You may find three or four different floor plans to account for multi-bedroom or penthouse apartments. Apartments in the same building will also have comparable floor plans and aesthetics. You can expect to find the same kinds of floors, ceilings, and other structural materials throughout each unit.

This standard isn’t necessarily the case for condominiums. Each unit within a residential condo building may vary widely in condition and interior style.

Now that you understand the main difference between apartment and condo and the ownership structure involved, let’s take a look at the in-depth pros and cons of both options.

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