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If you’re looking into purchasing a home in the multi-family complex department, it’s important to know the difference between a condo and townhouse. The difference between a condo and townhouse is relatively easy to distinguish, but knowing the benefits of a townhouse versus a condo is more complicated. Once you distinguish the difference in benefits between a condo and townhouse, then you can make the right choice for your family!

What is a Condo? 

A condo is a multi-family complex. Typically, condominiums are single-floor units that are stacked upon one another in a large complex. Condominiums are similar to apartment buildings except that each unit is owned by the resident rather than having a tenant rent from the landlord. Along with the residents of a condo owning their own unit, condo owners in a single complex also collectively own the common areas within the complex (such as pools, entertainment rooms, etc.). That is why most condominiums have condo boards. Condo owners pay fees to the condo association, and the board decides what upgrades to spend money on (such as lawn care, upgrades, maintenance, etc.). 

What is a Townhouse?

A townhouse is a multi-family complex attached home. Townhomes are multiple units connected to each other, usually three to five units per townhouse complex. Townhouses have similar features to condominiums in that each resident owns their own unit, and sometimes there are condominium boards that choose where to spend condo fees. Townhomes usually have a garage through an alleyway and tend to be multiple stories.

What are the Benefits of a Condo?

Affordability

Condos are one of the least expensive ways to buy property. Because they tend to be smaller and allow for a highly dense population, purchasing a condo can give you all the benefits of owning property while saving you a significant amount of money.

Ease

One of the greatest advantages of owning a condo is the fact that your condo fees take care of a lot of maintenance and work. Things like shoveling, mowing grass, and other upkeep items are not your concern, so there’s no need to worry when it starts to snow! You’ll also have access to an elevator, which can be a huge bonus! Condos often have underground parking, so scraping the snow and ice off your car is a non-issue.

Added Security

Living in a condo often has some added levels of security, as there’s a locked door to the entrance, and then again into your unit. That means that it’s much harder to get into your building, never mind your unit. Condo buildings also often have security cameras in all the public areas. 

What are the Disadvantages of a Condo?

Less Space

The greatest disadvantage of a condo is simply that they are not as big as a townhouse or single family home. Condos larger than two bedrooms tend to be very rare, and if they become that large, they are far more expensive. If you have a lot of furniture or items to store, or have a larger family, a condo may not be the best choice for you.

Less Privacy

The fact of the matter is that when you have a condo, you don’t have a lot of privacy. Unless you’re at the top or bottom floor, it’s likely that you will have people below and above you, as well as on either side. That means there’s a lot less privacy and that when you are able to hear other people, they are able to hear you.

More Responsibility to Neighbours

As a condo owner, you have more responsibilities to your neighbours. You can’t listen to movies or music at full volume late at night, and you shouldn’t have celebrations that are loud late either. We’ve all experienced a noisy neighbour, and respecting your neighbours by keeping noise down can be frustrating, as it can feel constraining. Condos often have additional rules from the condo association, things like who can park in visitor parking and for how long, whether you can install different types of technology or appliances, and items of that nature. Respecting your neighbours and condo board can end up with a lot of control ripped away from you in your own home.

Less Resale Value

Condos don’t sell as easily as townhomes or single-family homes. There isn’t as large of a market for people buying condos as there is for other types of homes, so if you decide to sell your condo, it can take a lot longer to sell, or you may not get the price you want for it. 

What are the Benefits of a Townhouse?

Value

Townhomes are a lower price point than a single-family home, yet they feature a lot of the benefits of a home. Also, because townhomes are multi-floor homes with a backyard and garage, they tend to be a first choice for families above that of condos. That’s why a townhouse tends to increase in value a lot more than a condo, and they also tend to sell a little faster.

More Choices

With a townhouse, you get a lot more choices, especially if you’re building new! You often get to choose from a variety of floorplans and finishes, plus the exterior is also owned by you, meaning you get to do what you like with your yard. Townhouses are also available in more communities than condo buildings, so you can choose from a variety of communities that fit your needs.

Added Security

Townhomes don’t have as much added security as condos, but there is an added benefit to being so close to a neighbour. If you’re going on vacation, you can let your neighbours know that you won’t be home, so if they hear anything suspicious they can alert authorities. There’s added benefits and protections to living so close to someone else!

Ease

Townhouses are often part of a condo association as well, so things like mowing the lawn or shoveling snow are usually taken care of by your association. So you get the added benefits of a yard and easier entrance, while still having outdoor maintenance taken care of externally.

What are the Disadvantages of a Townhouse?

Less Privacy

Although townhomes have more privacy that a condo, you are still connected to your neighbours’ unit on at least one side of your home. This means you can often hear what your neighbours are up to, and you have to make sure you respect the time of day and have less noise at night. 

Less Parking Options

Typically, a townhouse will have a single car garage. If you have multiple vehicles or a larger vehicle that doesn’t fit inside the garage, you will likely have to park on the street quite far from your home. This is because townhouses are often laned homes, which means there’s a single lane alleyway that lets you get to the back of your home. Unlike a condo, there won’t be any underground parking options for your townhouse.

Smaller than a Single Family Home

Although townhomes can be three bedrooms or larger, they will still never be as large as a single family home. There is far less storage space in a townhome, especially if you have work equipment like power tools. The single car garage does not offer a lot of storage space, so if you have many items that need to be stored, a townhouse may not be the best option for you.

Deciding Between a Condo vs Townhouse

If you’re deciding to purchase either a condo or a townhouse for your new home, there is no general right or wrong answer. If having access to an elevator and not needing to go up and down stairs a lot is appealing to you, a condo is a fantastic option, but if you like the idea of having a yard for your children or even pets, you may find a townhouse is a better choice. When choosing between these multi-family home options, it’s a good idea to list out all the things you want from your new home, and see what home-type fits best!

More On Buying A Home

Duplex (semi-Detached Home) VS. Single Family Home: Which One’s Right for Your Family?

7+ Surprising Tips I Wish I Knew as a First Time Home Buyer

Realtor Fees in Alberta

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