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The Pros and Cons of Condo Living

by Bill Ness on 6 Comments

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While condos may be more affordable to buy, they frequently have higher assessments for their monthly Homeowners Association (HOA) fees.

While active adult communities commonly feature single-family homes or attached villas, some developers also include the option of apartment-style condominiums. Designed as mid-rise or high-rise buildings, with features like elevators and underground parking, these thoughtfully-designed condos provide benefits which appeal to many active adults. Yet, condos in age-restricted communities also come with some drawbacks. Here are a few points to keep in mind when considering apartment-style living.

4 Reasons to live in a condo:

1. No Maintenance — Choosing an apartment-style condominium lets homeowners enjoy their active lifestyles without worrying about yardwork or exterior home maintenance. Condos are often available in smaller layouts, making them the perfect size for singles or those who don’t want the upkeep of a larger home.

2. Added Security — With secure entry doors, a staffed front desk or a building doorman, condos can provide an added layer of safety. This is often a comfort for singles living alone or for active adults who frequently travel. Buildings which also contain their own exercise, hobby or game rooms also let homeowners make use of the amenities without going out at night or in inclement weather.

3. Affordability — Apartment-style condos are often a more affordable option than attached villas, townhomes or single-family homes. This is especially true in more luxurious resort-style communities that are located in popular retirement destinations.

4. Location — Developers of active adult communities typically include apartment-style condos in more urban areas where land is more limited. They can be ideal homes for active adults who want to live near the cultural and recreational attractions found in cities.

4 Reasons not to live in a condo:

1. Higher Assessments — While condos may be more affordable to buy, they frequently have higher assessments for their monthly Homeowners Association (HOA) fees. These higher assessments are collected to pay for shared building features like elevators, underground parking or a doorman.

2. Shared Walls — Depending on the building, living in an apartment-style condo may bring active adults a little too close to their neighbors. Footsteps, arguments, TV shows and other sounds can bleed through from the neighbors who live in condos beside, above or below.

3. Distant Parking — Whether the building provides outdoor or underground parking, residents are likely to have a long walk from their cars to their homes. This can be even more of a problem when lugging in grocery or other shopping bags.

4. Resale Value — Apartment-style condos may be popular with some active adults, but most homebuyers in this demographic prefer attached villas or single-family homes. Unfortunately, that can negatively influence the condo’s resale value when it comes time to sell.

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  1. Condo’s come in all shapes and sizes. An interesting footnote to them is that Ross Cortese’s Leisure World (the California version of Sun City ) unfolded at almost the same moment in time the original Del Webb’s Sun City took off. Both began in 1960 with Webb initially focusing on single family dwellings and Ross exclusively using the multi floored condo as his concept.

    It is interesting to note within a matter of years Webb began adding garden court apts (multiple side by side units), twins and quad homes within the mixture of single family homes. No one in the Webb organization admitted they used Cortese’s success to enhance their own product, but clearly these two men of vision (Webb and Cortese) knew of one anothers successes.

    50 years later, Sun City is built out. With 27,000+ homes within the white walls; nearly a third of them are variations of multiple units where there is a home owners association overseeing the outside grounds. Typically this makes great sense for those having two properties. It allows them to leave during the hot summer months yet not have the outside maintenance to worry about.

    That cost of piece of mind doesn’t come cheap, with most HOA fees in Sun City hovering between $140 to $200 per month. Usually the difference is in whether the roof is covered by the association or by the individual owner. In Sun City, there are 386 different condo owners associations while when living in a single family unit there is just one…the Sun City Home Owners Association.

    The other defining difference is in units like Leisure World the fess covering them would be all inclusive where in age restricted commnuities with multiple variations of single family and condo’s/twins the costs differ. For example: We own a single family home, pay $15 per year to belong to the Sun City Home Owners Association (which is voluntary) and $432 per year in recreation fees (for the amenities). I watch two units (both Garden Court apts) for Canadians during the summer. Their fees are both $140 per month for the condo association and $432 for their rec fees. Obviously in our singe family home we have additional costs we pay that are covered in the condo association so its not as bad as it sounds.

    With all that said, living in an age restricted community is just an opportunity to enjoy another day in paradise. Early on, Webb’s folks told potential buyers: “We’re not selling you a home, we’re selling you a way of life.” After all these years, it’s still the same. It really doesn’t matter what your preference in living quarters is, just get your butt out there and find that little slice of heaven before it’s too late.

  2. A major problem with apartment style living – Smoking wafting from downstairs apartments, through vents, around the whole area and cigarette butts which are toxic. Shared walls are another concern depending upon who your neighbor is. You can have the best considerate neighbors ever and suddenly they decide to move and you can get the worst neighbor who interferes with your sleep and general well-being.

    1. Thank you for your info. I had totally over looked the smoke coming through the vents and the smoking issue. Thank you… Ram

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with Bambi!!!! My dear aunt and godmother had to deal with smokers in her high-rise apartment and suffered alot since she had asthma and heart problems. And she could not afford to move which made matters worse! There are still too many smokers out there who feel that since it is their home. they can do what they want when they want and they do not care who breaths the fumes of their disgusting habit. Just not right!!

    I lived in a condo decades ago and I used to hate it when the girl would play the piano. I do love the instrument but NOT when I am trying to sleep or want a little peace and quiet after a busy day. Family arguments can be loud, too! Not all condo walls are built equally; some are more soundproof than others. That is something to make note of.

    And if you buy a condo, try to get a three-bedroom if you can afford it. It is MUCH easier to sell than a two-bedroom. I speak from experience on that.

    In conclusion, weigh the pros and cons of condo buying but DO YOUR HOMEWORK first before you sign the dotted line!

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