The first time I heard the word “condo” was in the 80s. I was a teen. My family had planned to meet up with their English friends in Florida one summer. My family had emigrated to America from England for a second time. The first time was in the early 70s. My parent’s English friends always stayed in a condo for a few weeks every summer to escape England.
Florida was a popular destination for English families. Florida had sun, sand, surf, and shopping. If you have ever visited the United Kingdom, you will know that the weather is a bit bleak. The beaches are a bit barren. The surf more than a bit cold. And the shopping? Well, shopping in England is and has always been an expensive proposition. My parent’s English friends would come to Florida for three weeks every summer. They rented a condo. I had never heard of the word condo, but soon came to learn that a condo is a luxury apartment rented to tourists. Later I learned that if you could rent a condo anywhere in the U.S. owning a condo gave you access to facilities/services offered in a condo building, like laundry rooms, fitness rooms, etc.
I have rented condos a few times myself at the beach, but have never owned a condo. Though I am sure I would fall in love in an instant having a place at say, Devonshire at PGA National. Back before I got married, my soon-to-be fiance looked at condos near his job. He was ready to own. I toured a condo with him once. The layout was spacious. The condo building had lots of amenities. But he had doubts about owning a condo. We sat down over coffee to talk about whether he should purchase a house or a condo.
We came up with several key reasons for buying a house rather than buying a condo.
- Space — Having more space was at the top of our list. A condo is by design only slighter larger than an apartment. Usually on only one floor. The condo may have 2, 3, or even 4 bedrooms, but the bedrooms are still in close proximity to the living and dining spaces. Condos can feel cramped. Often there are no hallways, stairways, or spacious entrance foyers. When you walk in to a condo, you can often see all the rooms, whereas in a house rooms are farther away and mostly not visible by someone standing in the entrance.
- Rules — Condo owners can only make changes to their condo, if the those changes adhere to the condo association rules. Owners sign condo association guidelines agreeing to obey noise rules, paint their front door a certain color, and not clutter their balcony with stuff. Homeowners can choose to buy a home in a neighborhood that does not have a home owner’s association. If the home owner lives in a community without a home owner’s association, he paint his door blue, his trim bright green, or his garage doors yellow. No one is there to stop him.
- Privacy — If you buy a condo, your condo will be located in a building with other condos. You will share an adjoining wall with one, maybe two neighbors. Adjoining walls mean you will hear your neighbor’s alarm clock. Hear their children running around, hear dogs barking. Your condo’s front door will open to a shared hallway. You will park, not on a driveway, but in a parking space. Basically, your neighbors will always be in plain view. If you live in a home, you will only see your neighbors if you look out your window or walk out of your front door. Privacy is well worth the cost of a house.
But what about cost? I’ll bet you are thinking that buying a condo would be cheaper than buying a house. While that is true, you can always find inexpensive houses. Remember, that one of the costs built in to your new condo is the condo association fees. You may have to pay for a lawn service for the shared green spaces. Or pay for a cleaning service for the common areas and meeting rooms. Those fees can add to the cost of the condo. You might find that buying a home is a more affordable option than buying a condo.
The information in this post was provided by Devonshire at PGA National.