House vs. Condo

I've been going over this in my head for the last few months.

My wife and I are putting away money for a "house", but we are not set on whether we want an actual house or a condo. There are benefits and drawbacks to both.


Cheaper to buy (in most places)
Cheaper to maintain
Can still call super/landlord with problems
Condo complexes give instant "community"feel and safe environment
Easy to rent if you decide to move

Lack of Privacy
No backyard
No room for expansion


Backyard for kids/parties/BBQ
Sense of pride in "owning" a house
No neighbors
Can be expanded if lot is big enough

All maintenance is on you, if you can't fix it you have to hire someone
Much more risk involved in terms of something being wrong that may take years to be exposed (i.e. foundation issues, roof problems)

These are just a few of the issues we've been throwing around. We do have some time until we start looking around, but these are pretty big to both of us. As far as the house goes, even with a thorough inspection, some things slip through the cracks (pun intended). The inspector may not see that rats or possums or raccoons love to come by the house at night and scare the hell out of your family just for the fun of it. The foundation for the house may look sound now, but after a pretty big rainstorm when the ground gets really soaked and you house shifts over about 1 in and then the walls start to crack.....not so much. Paying $7,000 to get your roof fixed does not seem too appealing to me either. Condo maintenance fees can also be raised if major repairs need to be done to the building, so the condo board can get into your pockets too. These expenses are spread out over all tenants, however, not just you.

With all that said, there a certain panache (not sure if I spelled that right) to owning your own home. I am not egotistical by any stretch of the word, but I would like to accomplish certain things in my life. Owning a home is one of them. Having a condo might be a great investment, financially, but I would still be an apartment dweller. I would have to deal with neighbors, and possibly doormen who don't really do their jobs, or the maintenance staff that is slow to get to everything. Condo living would still be a step up from renting, and every step forward counts in life, even the baby ones.

Ideally, I think if we find a nice condo with decent amenities (pool, fitness center, playground for the baby, washer/dryer in apt.) we will go this route at least for a few years, then try to sell for a profit and move into a decent house. Or we could try to rent and start our real estate empire there. The biggest thing for me, which may seem small to others, would be having a backyard for my baby girl to play in. Even if we get a condo with a child friendly playground, having her in our own backyard with her friends would be extra sweet. Also, spending the day or passing the night on the porch/deck with the wife after a long day at work, sipping on some lemonade and just talking and enjoying each other is pretty picture that always seems to be on my mind when I think "Home".

Financially, condos may not appreciate as fast as houses or maybe not at all. You are also at the mercy of your other tenants when it comes to valuation. If there are only a few owners actually living in the building, this will bring down value. Renter's don't care for the property as well as an owner would, and if others are renting and not buying, why should someone buy yours. With a house, if you happen to buy in a community that has already peaked, rise in value will slow or even drop. Not much you can do to stop this. No matter how much you put into the house, people will not give you $300K if 4 other houses on the block have gone for $250K in the last 6 months (all other conditions being equal, living space, exterior condition, etc).

Sounds confusing doesn't it? It is a big decision that I am glad to have in our hands. Most people never get a chance to own property. Some have no desire to, they are happy renting. There is nothing with that if that is what you choose. I plan to keep moving forward. Even the baby steps count.

Thanks for reading

I love you baby


  1. Moneymonk said...

    Considering that you guys already have a kid, I would try for a house, so when another child comes you need not have to move. But anything in NY is expensive  

  2. Rad said...

    We are planning to go a little upstate if we do go for the house maybe Rockland. Property taxes up there are pretty crazy though. Condo living might be worth the sacrifice if we hold off on Baby #2, just to get our feet wet. You make a good point though. We'll revisit this when we start looking.

    Thanks Money  

  3. Dimples said...

    I am stuck between a house or a townhouse. I won't do a condo because 90% of the time the condos in Florida used to be apartments. I think what you have to look at is where do you see yourself with the house or townhouse in say 5 years.

    I know that regardless what I purchase it will be temporary. Maybe 3-4 years. My purchase is dependent on one income right now. So my first home won't be my dream home. I can't afford my dream home on what I make alone. Once I get married and start planning for more kids there will have to be a home upgrade.

    Research shows that townhouses are more affordable and manageable. But if I can find an even more affordable and manageable house I will definitely jump on it.

    I start house shopping in February. I am getting my finances in check now. Let me know how your hunt goes. We can compare notes.

    Great post.  

  4. Rad said...

    We haven't started "hunting" yet, we just browse the listings on Craigslist and the newspapers to see if any "steals" come up.

    I do love going to open houses for the free donuts and coffee :) plus it gives me a more visual idea of what we can get for our price range. We are kind of in the same boat as far as affording the dream home. We can't really go for it yet, but a townhouse/condo could be in the works. Then in about 3-4 years, we can upgrade. Nothing wrong with paying rent, I just think we can get more for our money. This NY market is hard to crack though.

    Baby steps...The empire has to start somewhere.  

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