Debating Between a Condo or a House
Which is right for you?
By Melissa Paul
A condo can offer a good location at a less expensive price.
Photo by Brian Weiss
Buying a home is one of the biggest and most important decisions you’ll
ever make. Whether you are a first-time buyer, or a veteran homeowner
looking to trade up or make a new start, you will inevitably be faced
with a number of questions. Your answers will lead you to the home
that’s right for you.
One of the most fundamental questions all homeowners face is whether to
buy a condo or single family house. There are advantages and
disadvantages of each and only you can know what’s right for you.
For Boston newlyweds Michelle and Kevin Millsom, 31 and 36, it was an
easy decision. With high-powered financial careers and no children, they
were drawn to the excitement of the city and wanted their fingers on the
pulse. They bought a penthouse apartment with a breathtaking view of
Boston’s famous esplanade and Charles River.
“We enjoy everything the city has to offer—the restaurants, theatre,
outdoor concerts. We walk everywhere and find the easy access to the
airport to be a plus since we travel frequently for work,” said Kevin.
“When we have children, we may think about a house in the suburbs, but
for now this is where we want to be.”
Like all things, living in the heart of the city comes with tradeoffs.
For the price of their two-bedroom/two-bath condo, they could buy a home
three times the size, just a short 20-minute commute away. They share
decision-making for their building with fourteen other tenants and pay
pricey condo fees to cover the costs of insurance and upkeep. Their car
sits idle most of the time in a $300 per month rented parking spot only
to leave for short jaunts to the grocery store or visits to see family.
But for Kevin and Michelle who want to spend their spare time out and
about, the location and convenience can’t be beat.
On the other hand, Adriana Forte, 62, lives in a condo in the Boston
suburb of Arlington and misses all that a single-family home has to
offer. Six years ago, after her divorce, she bought a “condex,” (a
two-family home with a shared wall) with the belief that managing a home
would be too much for her alone. But it turned out to be the wrong
decision for her. Now, she is desperately seeking a single-family house
to call her own.
“It’s difficult to live with neighbors so close,” Forte said. “First
there was the noise. My neighbors are night people, and every night they
are just getting geared up when I’m trying to sleep. Then I found myself
handling 100 percent of the finances and maintenance of the
duplex—without compensation. I may as well be living in my own house!”
Forte also misses the fresh air and private outdoor space. For her,
maintaining a home and garden is pure enjoyment. The privacy is what she
What is most important to you? Give consideration to the following:
Location – Where do you want to be? Are there options for both
condos and single-family houses in this area?
Privacy – Is it important to you to have complete privacy or do you
find close neighbors to be a comfort?
Responsibility – Do you need total control over decisions affecting
your home or are you attracted to the idea of sharing
decision-making with your neighbors?
Maintenance – Are you a homebody who enjoys getting dirty in the
yard or are you delighted with the idea of never having to cut a
blade of grass again?
Budget – How much do you have to spend? Depending on where you want
to live, a condo may be the only option that meets your budget.
These considerations and others will help you determine the best choice
for you now. And just remember, if your interests and priorities change
in the years ahead, you can always sell your home and make a move, this
time with experience as your guide.
Contact us today!