Condo vs Apartment: Understanding the differences for your next move

They say that home is where the heart is, but depending on your living situation, it’s also where the comforts, challenges, costs and savings can be! Whether you decide to own or rent, are looking to move out for the first time, or want to downsize from a house, choosing between a condo or an apartment can be a big decision when considering your next home. But you don’t need to navigate this big decision by yourself! In this article we'll simplify the process by taking a look at the key differences between condos and apartments, and help you decide which option suits you best.

What’s the difference between a condo and apartment?

Conversationally, people sometimes use the words condo and apartment interchangeably. But in reality, they are actually quite different. In one word, the key difference is simply ownership. More specifically, a condo is a form of ownership where people own their unit within a larger building or community, while apartments are rented living spaces within a building owned by a landlord or a property management company.

Condo owners hold the legal title to their specific unit, while jointly owning and sharing the responsibility of maintaining common areas like hallways and recreational facilities through a homeowners' association (HOA), or condo association. Many people love the convenient lifestyle and investment potential that come along with condo ownership, but they also have to remember that it comes with extra shared fees, which is definitely something to factor in when making your choice.

Unlike condos, apartment residents don’t own the units they live in. They pay monthly rent to the landlord or property management company, and typically have less control over what they can do with their homes. But on the flipside, landlords and property managers are the ones responsible for maintenance and repairs, which can be an appealing factor to those looking for less responsibility and more savings. Not sure how long you want to stay in a certain place? Apartments also offer tenants more flexibility and easier relocation, without the long-term commitment and financial obligations that come along with condo ownership.

What are the key differences to consider when choosing between a condo and apartment?

To make the process of choosing between a condo and an apartment simpler, we first need to take a look at the key differences that should be considered—like the ones we touched on above. Perhaps one of the biggest things to consider is the reality of the financial commitment. Purchasing a condo may come with its perks and extra amenities, but it also involves down payments, mortgages, and other costs like homeowners' association fees and taxes. While renting an apartment may require a security deposit in some cases, renters are typically only responsible for their monthly rent and utilities.

When it comes to condo amenities and maintenance responsibilities, they can really vary. Some condos offer more amenities than others, but also require owners to maintain their units and contribute to the upkeep of common areas. Apartments may have fewer or no amenities, but the cost of maintenance is out of your hands. Sure, it’s great to have access to things like a pool, gym, or even rooftop patio, but remember that as an owner the upkeep comes out of your pocket.


Perhaps one of the best things about condo ownership is that condo owners have equity in their units, meaning they can build value over time and potentially turn a profit when they eventually sell. They also have the right to make changes to their unit and put their personal touch on their property, as long as it aligns with the rules and regulations of the homeowners' association. While condo ownership gives you more autonomy and the potential investment benefits, being bound to these rules and regulations can sometimes impact your lifestyle, and even your wallet.

Instead of ownership, renters have a lease agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of their tenancy, including rent amount, lease duration, and any rules or restrictions set by the landlord. However, aside from factors like rent increases or changes to terms at the end of each lease, there are also circumstances where the longevity of the situation can be less predictable, like if the property owner decides to sell, for example.


We glossed over cost above, but now let’s look at it in a little more detail. When it comes to renting, the equation is pretty simple: rent + utilities + security deposit (sometimes, but not always!) + renter’s insurance (which isn’t always mandatory, but always advisable!) = your total cost.

But when it comes to owning, it’s a little more complex. First of all, there’s the down payment to consider. This is typically 5% to 20% of the condo's purchase price. The higher down payment, the lower monthly mortgage payments. Interest rates fluctuate, and there’s also mortgage insurance to factor in, depending on your down payment.

Next there’s the mortgage itself, which covers the remaining cost of the condo after the down payment. Your monthly payments will cover part of your principal (the loan amount) and interest, with the terms varying from 15 to 30 years. But that’s not all to consider for your monthly expenses. As we mentioned before, condos also come along with condo fees to cover maintenance, amenities, etc. These also vary depending on a number of factors. Lastly, don’t forget to include closing costs, property taxes, condo insurance, and sometimes reserve fund contributions in your budget. It might sound overwhelming, but it’s simply important to understand each of these financial commitments as assess the affordability and long-term ownership costs properly.

Amenities, services, and maintenance.

As we mentioned, the amenities that come along with a condo or apartment are something to consider as part of your lifestyle. Many condo buildings offer great amenities like gyms, swimming pools, and even security services. While typically less common, some apartment buildings may have similar amenities, but they're usually managed by the landlord or property management company and come at no extra cost to the tenants.

As for maintenance, the same kind of rules apply across the board. Condo owners are responsible for maintaining their individual units, while apartment maintenance is usually handled by the landlord.

Living space & community environment

Aside from the costs and the responsibilities is the actual living space itself and the sense of community. In essence, both are units in a building, but what sets them apart is the fact that condos sometimes offer more space, privacy, and more of a sense of community. This comes as no surprise as people co-own the property and share the sense of belonging with the property. They have more of a communal say in issues, and people generally tend to settle there longer, versus apartments which can tend to have more of a transient population.

Legalities & regulations

Of course, as with any living situation, there are certain legalities and rules that come along with it. We’ve explored how the rights and obligations of condo owners can differ from apartment renters, and one example is how condo owners have more control over their living space, but must also adhere to condo rules and regulations. Apartment renters are subject to lease agreements and landlord policies, which tend to limit personalization and require adherence to its own specific set of rules.

Condo pros & cons

Now that we’ve covered all the essentials of condo ownership, let’s break it down into the standout pros and cons:


  • Ownership and financial equity
  • Control over customization
  • Extra amenities and sense of community


  • Condo fees and regulations
  • Responsibility for maintenance
  • Higher expenses and fluctuating costs

Apartment pros & cons

Leaning more towards an apartment rental? Consider these pros and cons before making your decision:


  • Flexibility and ease of relocation
  • Lower initial costs
  • Limited maintenance responsibilities


  • Lack of financial equity
  • Limited control over customizing living space
  • Subject to landlord policies and rent increases

Condo or Apartment: Which suits you best?

An informed decision is always the best decision, so we hope that this article was helpful in guiding your next move! What it all boils down to when deciding between a condo and an apartment is considering key factors such as your financial situation, long-term goals, lifestyle preferences, and your desire for ownership. If you value stability, equity, and control over your living space, a condo may be the right choice. However, if flexibility, lower initial costs, and minimal maintenance responsibilities are priorities, renting an apartment could be more suitable for you.

And of course, don’t forget that whether you own or rent, home insurance is always a must for protecting your property and belongings. Rest assured that when decisions may feel complicated, belairdirect will make sure that getting properly insured is simple.