Renting a Condo vs. an Apartment: What’s the Difference?

By Cory Yaekel

When you’re ready to move out on your own, but not yet ready to buy a home, you may have an option to choose between rental condos and rental apartments. If you are seriously planning to buy your own condo in a couple of years, renting one now will be a good introduction to condo living. And, if you find that you love the area where you are renting, you may even luck out and get a chance to buy your unit or another one in the same building. It’s like “test driving” a condo!

Condos and apartments share a lot of similarities – so many, in fact, that people often get confused and think they’re just different words for the same thing. However, that is not the case. There are some key differences to each property that could make one more suitable than the other for you depending on your unique wants and needs.

Physical differences

Speaking strictly in terms of structure and layout, there is virtually no physical difference between condos and apartments. Both are individual living units within a larger building or complex, and vary in size and style depending on the building. In other words, one isn’t necessarily bigger or better than the other just by name, it depends on the specific property you’re looking at.

Ownership differences

This is where the main difference between condos and apartments lies. With apartments, the entire building of units is owned by one person or company. With condos, each individual unit is owned by one person or company. But what does this mean for you?

In an apartment, your landlord is the property manager of the building (or whoever handles tenants). In a condo, your landlord is the individual who owns that specific condo. Both situations have their pros and cons. Dealing with a property manager is simple but less personal; dealing with an individual owner is more personal but can be more difficult (depending on the individual). If you just want to pay your rent every month and nothing more, an apartment might be the better choice. If you want to build a relationship and even have the option of purchasing the property in the future, consider the condo. This is where long-term planning comes into play.

Living differences

Because of the difference in ownership, both condos and apartments use different things to attract buyers which can affect your quality of life. In apartment buildings, this usually comes in the form of building amenities like reserved parking, fitness centers, a pool and spa, and more. In condos, you may also have access to the all the amenities that the condo complex offers, but your “extras” usually come in the form of in-house upgrades like better interior design and/or upgraded appliances. Think about it like this: rental apartment building owners want to attract buyers to their complex in general, condo owners want to attract buyers to their specific unit. How you value these amenities is completely up to you.

Cory Yeakel is a proud homeowner and manager of ProductAdvisor.com, a research website that tests and reviews consumer products including household items like kitchenware, bed and bath, and more. After living in a rental condo for 4 years, he was finally able to purchase a home where he and his girlfriend live with their Siberian Husky, Thunder.

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