Wednesday, May 5, 2010

House vs. Condo

Buying a condo was never even an option for us. It wasn't on our radar. But my mom and I were talking and she mentioned looking at condos. She made some good points about condos possibly fitting our lifestyle better since we are busy people who like having plans and may not enjoy spending our weekends doing yard work. She had a point.
After seeing so. many. houses. and not being satisfied with them we were a bit discouraged, so what did we have to lose? We started looking online and realized we could get all the things we wanted in a house - deck, granite counter tops, ceramic tile floors, finished basement, and THREE bathrooms - at a much cheaper cost than a house. We even found condos that had views of the forest or, better yet, a lake. As soon as Garth realized we could get a condo with lake privileges you better believe he was researching boats.
We looked at a few condos last night with our realtor and fell in love. Our favorite was an end unit with a lovely patio, vaulted ceilings, skylights in the kitchen, a breakfast bar, a master bedroom with a bathroom, larger closest, and the most amazing finished basement. The basement was HUGE! And it had a large wet bar. It was the ultimate entertaining house. Sure there are HOA fees, but the price tag is so much cheaper than a house with all those features and insurance is lower.
BUT would we miss not having a yard? Would we crave the domestic responsibility of mowing, shoveling, and raking? Decisions, decisions.
What are your thoughts on houses vs. condos?

38 comments:

Patience said...

The only problem with a condo and living in MI is they are really, really hard to sell. We have three friends who bought a condo first and wanted to move into a house and are now renting out their condos. I don't want to change your plans because a condo may be perfect for you, just something to think about.

Shannon said...

We could never have a condo due to the fact that we have outside dogs, but besides that, we wouldn't like having neighbors so close to us.

Charbelle said...

Hi I've been following for a while =) I own a condo, I purchased one that would be easy to sell because of my location, however, I live in NC. I have grass and trees and flowers, I just don't have to take care of them. I have a pool, that I don't have to take care of. I have a dog, he lives inside with me. The place you describe sounds absolutely wonderful. Perhaps write out a list of pros and cons and pray for guidance?

Kat said...

I was never a huge condo person. I love land. However, the prices can't be beat. Like someone said above me- weigh the pros and cons. If you are more interested in granite countertops then a garden, etc, etc...

Good luck!

Kat said...

P.S. Just started following :)

carrie1 said...

Although, I don't own either. My boyfriend does and he gets annoyed with doing yard work.

But next year when we look for our own place, we are going to look at both, we just need a back yard big enough for the rotti.

Kt said...

I think if you can get what's important to you in a condo, then do it! My only recommendation is that you have room to grow into it (especially if you're planning on starting a family in the next few years).

I would say if you are planning on ever getting a dog, having yard space can be important. Although we don't own yet (where we live is just far too expensive to own anything on one salary while I'm in school), we've lived in a condo with our dog and we loved it. The perks were awesome!

AmyT said...

There are good and bad...same as with a house. You don't have kids now...and when they are little yard really will not matter?? My Aunt lives in one and loves it, but she isn't a out-doorsy person...but they have a pool/gym - and have a 'party' room all you have to do is book it. I'm just not sure how resale would be? It really does sound like the one you are looking at is nice. I wish you the best of luck!!!! (PRAY)

Lauren said...

There are definitely pros & cons to both. We personally have a house with a large outside dog and honestly condos aren't even a possibility in our area. You either buy a home or you rent an apartment/home...period. Good luck, sounds like the condo would be fabulous--especially for now!

...::Heather @ Mrs. Southern Bride::... said...

We have talked about living in a condo, so we don't have so much yard work. But the other side is not being able to have outside dogs...hope yall find what you are looking!

Bekah said...

I think Condos can be great, it depends on you guys really. I will say, when Matt and I bought our house, we really didnt plan that well for the future. As in...when will we have children? How many? Do we really like this school district?

Sounds like you two are better planners than us, so you probably alreayd thought of that, but thats my only point against one. A condo in this area anyway, would never have fit our family, but it would have fit us as a couple.

Megan said...

I think the place you've described sounds lovely! When we buy a house we will be looking for a little land of our own for the (future) children, so that would be an important factor to me. Although a condo with Lake priveledges is PRETTY nice! And there's always playgrounds to take (future) the kids to ;)

Jen Caputo said...

lots of pros and cons but I personally could never give up my backyard - it's my favorite part of the house. Adam had a condo before he moved into our house and it was a NIGHTMARE. You are at the mercy of your neighbors in so many more ways then you can imagine. They can actually prevent you from selling your condo simply by renting out theirs (most mortgage companies won't give you a loan to buy a unit in a condo that is less than 50% owner occupied). Adam's association only had 6 units and 3 of them were renting meaning nobody could get a loan to buy his place. Also, just because there are condo dues doesn't mean everyone will pay them and you could wind up either not getting things fixed that the HOA is supposed to cover, or paying more than you should for them.
This is your home, you don't want to have to depend on anyone but yourself for your living conditions or your ability to sell it when it's time to move on. If you want to call me, feel free, we can tell you a million horror stories from not only our own experience but from friends as well that will make you think long and hard before buying a condo.
Sorry to be such a downer but there's a lot of baggage that goes along with the cheaper price tag, trust me.

Mary said...

I've lived in a condo for over six years. I live in a great area of St. Louis in which I would never have been able to afford a house. Mine was a gut-rehab and I got to choose all the finishes, which was awesome. As my family grew (I got married, adopted a dog), we're ready to move into a house. Our condo has been on the market for seven months with no offers. I can't say whether the condo market is necessarily worse than the housing market right now, but I feel completely trapped in a place I don't want to live. I guess what I'm trying to say is talk to your REA about resale because it might affect your decision.

Pocketfull of Pink @ 5th Belle Ave said...

This is a tough one! Both have their perks! With a condo, I think it would be wise to try and meet your potential neighbor (if it's at all possible), because you can run into the same issues you do when living in an apartment - sharing a wall, noise, etc. But, if it suits your lifestly better, then the price is definitely an attractive feature. Resale will be a lot easier with a condo because they will help you find someone to buy. That is a huge help when you want to move out! It depends on the condo, location and your personal preferences. I would suggest praying about it, though I'm sure you already are! I'm so excited to see what you decide! The one you described sounds AMAZING!!!

Ria Thurston said...

What a discussion!! Great to get the advice from everyone :) We live in a Townhome... we never considered a Condo. It sounds like a Condo is what we in MN call a Townhome. We don't have to do any yardwork, etc. We plan to be here for 4-6 years now and then purchase a HOME, HOME. (when babies enter the world...). I have heard they are a little harder to sell, but with God's favor... I don't think you have to worry about it! We have LOVED not having to do all that yardwork,etc. Most of them offer ammenities (ours has a pool, workout facility, meeting room, etc.) Just my input!! BLESSINGS!

Jenny.Lee said...

I think there are pros and cons to both. I personally would like a condo but with two children the lack of yard would be an issue. (More for me than them. I'm all about kicking the kids out of the house to play outside! lol)

Happy Dash said...

We live in our condo currently. I love it for the two of us, though it sounds like the condo you're looking at is a lot different from ours (ours is only 1 floor). It is nice to not have to do yard work, enjoy a pool without having to do the maintenance, and not have too much space that we don't use! But, we are planning to either rent or buy a house when we move after med school graduation (even if we stay in the same town) because I couldn't imagine having to lug stuff up and down (we live on the second floor) and not have storage for things like strollers, etc. once we have kids! Good luck - do what's best for you and your husband ... no one's experience is ever the same :)

Mrs.LifeAccounts said...

It sounds amazing! A whole bunch of people have commented with horror stories but there are plenty of good stories out there too! Definitely seek wisdom from people with experience! Not having a yard may not necessarily be an issue if there is plenty of other wide-open space around you. We have a yard with the house we have but we only care for it when we have time, otherwise it's taken care of for us and that is a really nice perk! Life is so busy for us right now that while I would like to have more time to do things like yardwork-the reality is there isn't enough time in the day for me right now! If this is where God wants you to be, he'll work the details out when it comes time to sell and move! I'll be praying for you!

Kelli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katrina said...

There is such a great discussion going on! Lots of good advice.
Personally, I wouldn't buy a condo... I would love to have a big garden, and land... and I hate sharing walls with neighbors. But that's me. =) Like someone else said... make a list weighing the pros and cons and pray about it!

Your Wedding Hostesses said...

A lot of great advice from your readers. It's easy to fall in love with granite countertops, but once you have kids all you're gonna care about is SPACE! And with the housing market in MI being soooo horrible, selling those beautiful granite countertops is going to be TOUGH! Whatever you end up buying, figure you'll have to have it probably at least 10 years. My brother bought his house in 1996 and probably couldn't give it away (it's in Southgate).

Good luck and keep us posted!

Kim @ NewlyWoodwards said...

This is really such a personal decision. I love our yard and gardening, and take a lot of pride in it. But, there are days (esp. in the dead of winter and when I don't wanna mow again), that I wish we didn't have to maintain. I have friends who love their condo, and they love the pool and amenities, too.

~Mrs. Guru~ said...

What a tough decision. I guess I would think about the future and if I was going to have kids. But it all comes down to what fits your lifestyle and wants! Good luck!

Newlywed Next Door said...

We live in a condo and we love it!

No yard work, a pool we can always swim in, a person at the front desk to sign for our packages, etc! It fits our lifestyle so much better than a home. Since we're always working, traveling, etc. we can hardly maintain our 1,100 sq. feet, let alone a huge house with a yard.

I say go for the condo! But that's just me!

Newlywed Next Door said...

PS- Just read others comments.

It is definitely good to check out the noise in whatever unit you buy -- our condo building has SUPER thick walls and we NEVER hear our neighbors. But we look at some places where you could hear simple conversations through the walls. Awful.

Also - I really don't think a yard matters for super little kids - plus some condos, like ours, have huge yards kids can play in. We plan on having kids in our condo in a few years -- that's what the second bedroom is for.

Also make sure your HOA is well managed. Whatever condo complex you buy in, be sure to get some inside scoop on the HOA. Some are a lot better run than others.

If you're thinking seriously abotu a condo, email me and we can chat. Despite the horror stories people might have, it's been a great experience for us, but I can help give some tips of what to look out for.

Brittany Ann said...

I'm a house girl, but I have tons of friends (even some with kids) who love their condos and miss them if/when they make the switch!

Amey said...

I love having a backyard! Although ours isn't huge, it is perfect for us right now. We have a hammock and can let our inside dog run and play. We don't spend entire weekends working in the yard. My husband usually does yard work one day after work, so his Saturday isn't devoted to it. Good luck!

Jules said...

I am totally a house person but we live in such a small town that there aren't even condos around....

Whitney said...

I am soooo pro condo. Forever. But I hate yard work!

Always Pretty in Pink said...

The condo sounds great. But I can't imagine having kids, or even dogs in a condo. And you never know who around you is going to be loud, or anything like that. Even if you like the neighboors now, what if they are just renters, and the next people to move in are horrible?

I am such a girlie girl, and I hate getting dirty. But now that we have our own home, I love working in our yard. I have had so much fun, and I love driving up now and seeing my flowers, and enjoying everything we have done.

Just because the condo has granite countertops and such, you should pay more attention to the bones of the house or condo. Countertops and paint, even walls can be changed. We have changed pretty much everything about our house. We bought it for the great location, and huge yard. You can update the houses over time, but you can never just add a yard to your condo. I don't want to move, probably ever again. When we have kids, we are most likely going to add onto our house. I think a condo is a great option, if you want to move agian.

Also, my friend has a condo, and they keep raising her HOA fees. I think they are almost double now what they were when she bought her condo a few years ago.

Gosh, this comment turned out so long. Good luck with your decisions. :)

Jen said...

We own a townhouse/condo hybrid and love it. Love! It's a condo because we have someone on top of us, but like a townhouse because we have a garage, driveway, deck and all that good stuff. We're both really busy people and while we'd like to have a yard some day, right now it's awesome not to have to care for one.

The only thing to look for when buying a condo is the neighbors!! Because you share walls, you want to make sure you don't buy next to a total freak ;)

Also, we have two dogs and they do just fine in our place. Luckily they get plenty of walks and are fine without a yard too! Can't wait to hear more about your home search :)

The McGriff's said...

We live in a very large (1500 sq ft) apartment (we have the entire 3rd floor so you would never know it is an apartment from the inside) and have a HUGE balcony with an ocean view. BUT I miss having a yard. We also live on a very narrow street (think alley) with no sidewalks so to take a walk we need to drive somewhere and park for safety reasons. I didn't miss the yard part until just recently because the weather is getting nice and our daughter is just getting to the age where she LOVES to play outside and pick "flowers" (weeds! lol) If it were not for that I would be all for not having a yard. We definitely do not miss all the time spent on yard work!

sabrina said...

con: alot harder to sell

pro: no yard work and minimal maintenance

Brandi said...

I think it just depends on your lifestyle and what you enjoy. I grew up on a farm and when I was ready to buy a house, my house had to have a large yard. I didn't want to be right next to someone. That was my preference though. Then once I started having to mow the yard, I sometimes thought differently about that but overall was happy with the purchase. Being you both live busy lifestyles and don't currently have any children, it may be a good investment. Once your family starts to grow, you can always look at homes then.

Gwen said...

As a home owner but a condo lover I can tell you this. I would miss the privacy of my own home (I can sing as loud as I want and never worry that anyone has blood running out of their ears) but I would love not having to do yard work all the time (well not having to bribe Brian to do it). I like how most condos are super modern and that's more my style too. Can't wait to see what you decide friend!!! XOXO

RN Mama said...

It sounds beautiful! Just make sure you take in consideration the ability to re-sell it when that time comes. Living in Michigan, it's hard to sell anything!

The Shabby Princess said...

We bought a house because we really wanted a house. Sure, we don't love the upkeep, but, for us, we wanted to be in a neighborhood with the trees and the yard and all of that. Do I miss my apartment days when I didn't have to do yardwork? YES. But, for us, we wanted a house.

I think the condo idea is great for you and for what you're looking for. Especially on a lake? How fun!

Either way, you'll know when you find the place for you. I know it sounds cheesy, but, for us, when we were renting a house (looked at a million rentals!) to buying our own place, we just "knew".