Condo vs Apartment: Main Differences

Confused between choosing a condo or an apartment? Here's what you need to know.
Jaanu Surendran
June 22, 2022
4 min read
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Are you a new immigrant, trying to figure out the best type of dwelling for you and your family? Or are you a student looking for suitable accommodation near your college? The rental market can be confusing, with the variety of properties on offer: single houses, studios, basements, townhouses, condos, and apartments. This article focuses on the differences between the two high-rise options - condos and apartments.

There is no straightforward answer to the question of which is better among the two. It comes down to the tenant’s lifestyle, preferences, and budget. Let’s talk about the similarities first - both apartments and condos have separate living units in a building with shared common areas. While at the basic level they seem indistinguishable from each other, there are some important differences between the two.

Before you decide which is best for you, let’s dig deep into the features and characteristics of each. There are lots of factors to consider before settling on a living arrangement, and it’s wise to make sure you’ve considered everything.

Budget:

Renting a condo is in general more expensive than an apartment.

This is due to the fact that condos offer a more extensive list of amenities than apartments, such as a gym, extra storage, concierge services, party halls, swimming pools, outdoor lounge areas, etc. More facilities = higher rent. Condos are also usually built in a more modern, contemporary style and equipped with state of the art appliances.

Location also matters, and most condos are built in very desirable neighbourhoods. All these contribute to a higher monthly rent, to manage the higher costs faced by the condo owner.

In contrast, apartments generally ask for a lower rent as they offer fewer amenities, and lack modern appliances and facades. They are also usually located in unattractive neighborhoods with low walkscores.

Management:

Apartments are owned by private corporations who employ professional and expert property managers. With their experience managing rental properties, they usually are quick to solve any issues or inconveniences you may face in your unit. Whatever the problem is - clogged toilets, leaky faucets, pests, fights with another tenant - they handle it competently and swiftly. As the apartment owner has efficient systems in place, you can relax knowing that your renting experience will be smooth, as long as you pay your rent on time.  

But when renting a condo, your landlord is most likely a single individual or family looking to earn passive income from their investment. In their zeal to protect their investment, they may have some hard rules and also regularly visit to check up on their property. Some people may find this intrusive.

More importantly, a condo landlord may not possess the experience or expertise to handle the issues that crop up in a rental unit. They may need constant nudging to sort out any repairs, and could be indifferent in case of a dispute with another tenant.

Lifestyle:

Condos do offer superior amenities. These could include anything ranging from a gym to a pet washing station. There are luxury condos available that offer spas, saunas, tennis courts, private lakes, business rooms, game rooms, etc. I’ve heard of condos with an automatic car wash and a shooting range!

In high contrast, apartments are usually older buildings with way less amenities. They do offer the basic essentials: parking, laundry, storage. In rare cases, a skeletal gym.

We’d suggest you consider the duration of your rental period while deciding. If it’s to be a short-term lease, apartments are a wise choice while you get ready to upgrade to a higher end option. But if you’re planning to stay for a long time, consider investing in a condo in order to get the maximum value for your money.

Location:

Condos tend to be located around the downtown area and are close to major public transport hubs and commercial centres. Travelling to work and shopping for groceries would be convenient, to the point that you may not even need a car.

But apartments are located here and there, and scattered all over the city. All apartments do not offer convenient transportation options or shopping facilities nearby. If you’re new to the city and don’t possess a car for the initial days, you may find it easier to get around while renting a condo.

Personal relationship with landlord:

Living in a condo would involve developing a relationship with your landlord, which could be a good thing. They may be open to negotiation, and flexible to tenant requests. You could request for interior alterations, for example, or even to keep a new pet.

But apartments are owned by large corporations that oversee several rental units spread across multiple buildings. They have fixed rules and restrictions, and their primary goal is to maximise profit. You cannot negotiate in case of a rent hike, or other personal requests.

Risks:

As far as security is concerned, apartments are lower grade than condos. As they charge lower rent and offer fewer amenities, they are not equipped with the best security features. There is a higher risk of theft/burglary, especially if the building is located in a sketchy neighborhood.

Condos do offer state-of-the-art security features, such as CCTV cameras, concierge services, and 24/7 security monitoring. They still come with their fair share of risks though.

Suppose your condo landlord who has a full-time job gets transferred to another city and abruptly decides to sell the unit you’re renting. This would be a huge inconvenience as you’d have to struggle to find a new place to live with extremely short notice. And sometimes, condo corporations levy ‘special assessment fees’ against condo owners due to a major repair or upgrade to the building complex. This could mean a sudden sharp increase in your rent.

These scenarios are less likely to materialize in an apartment.

So… apartment or condo?

Simply put, there’s no right answer. While an apartment may be right for your friend, it may not be right for you. Every person has a different situation.

If you don’t mind paying a higher rent, a condo is a good choice due to the superior amenities, modern design, and good location. But if you’d like to keep costs low, don’t worry. With a bit of search, you may be able to find apartments in good locations that offer excellent amenities as well.


Focus on the factors that matter most to you in terms of a rental unit, and let them help you come to a decision.

When you do, Tenantcube is there to help you make the renting process and experience infinitely more enjoyable. Right from submitting your application to paying your rent online, Tenantcube covers all your rental needs efficiently.

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Jaanu Surendran
June 22, 2022
4 min read
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