Buying a Condo vs a Single Family Home

Many prospective homeowners hit a wall when deciding between condos and single family homes. There are reasons to fall in love with the idea of either. But there are also drawbacks to both, depending on your personal needs and aspirations for home life.

A man holding a roof over a question mark

If you are debating between purchasing a condominium or a house, here are some considerations to get you closer to making a decision.

Money

The general rule is that condos are less expensive than single family homes up front. Depending on the housing market, median purchase prices are considerably lower for condos.

The Penny Hoarder reports these selected statistics for comparison.

  • Madison, Wisconsin: $254,700 vs. $173,800
  • Reno, Nevada: $314,400 vs. $169,500
  • Tampa, Florida: $205,000 vs. $134,900
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado: $264,700 vs. $172,400
  • Atlanta, Georgia: $191,500 vs. $168,800
  • Syracuse, New York: $137,000 vs. $117,100

However, there are further savings and costs to consider other than the bottom-line sales price. Condos tend to have lower monthly costs. Yard care and maintenance costs in a condo skew cheaper or are completely non-existent. Also in condos, some utilities like water and garbage will often be included with homeowners insurance, saving you a bit of money on the package. That said, be careful of condos with high association fees and higher interest rates from lenders, as these under-the-radar costs can drive the monthly price of a condo higher than a single family home in some cases.

Single family homes usually cost more, though. Between yard care, minor maintenance, longer commutes, and more space to furnish, you’ll usually end up spending more with a freestanding property.

Conversely, single family homes tend to be greater investment properties than condos. And even if the two types of properties grow in value at the same rate, it is often much quicker to find buyers for full houses.

Location

A home doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and where a home is located will often be as important as the variety of dwelling. This is a major reason that many prospective homeowners go for condos. Especially in big cities, condos act as an affordable avenue for owning property in a city center, near to jobs, entertainment attractions, and dining.

If a quieter life is more your interest, a single family home, just a bit out of the fracas, may be the perfect choice for you.

Time

Single family homes often require a lot more time and energy than a condominium. While extra space and a yard may be huge benefits to you, every square foot of a new home needs to be maintained by the owner when there are no property managers involved. For busy buyers, looking to have help with plumbing issues, pest problems, and neighborly disputes, a condo might be the easier route to getting on with the rest of one’s daily tasks.

With that in mind, some owners are interested in putting work into their home with renovations, gardens, or additions. A single family home may be the only option of the two with enough freedom attached to achieve these goals.

Community

Are you looking to have kids with a yard and block to play on? Would you like to cook out with neighbors, join a community watch team, or have trick-or-treat’ers on Halloween? These things may only be possible in a single family home. However, condos often offer different community benefits, whether that be shared gyms, pools, or recreational spaces, or eve high security to ease an owner’s mind.

All in all, the decision between single family home and condo is a highly personal one. Take this list and use it as a jumping off point for your own pros and cons list. See how the balance tips, and make a decision that gives you the highest odds for comfort and fulfillment in your new home.