Bekah Steenbock

When looking for a new place to live, you might see both condos and apartments and wonder “What’s the difference?” You’re thinking about all the same things no matter which place you’re previewing: price, square footage, amenities, types of flooring, pet rules . . . as long as you have what you need, why does it matter what type of unit you rent?

Because they’re not the same. There are some key differences to how condos and apartments operate, and knowing the difference will affect how your home and community operate day to day.

Ownership: Apartment vs Condo

Apartments

Apartment complexes usually have one owner. Everyone will have essentially the same leases, and the same rules apply throughout the building. This generally makes any disputes easier to handle, as everyone has to hold to the same rules, and the property manager has the authority to settle any disputes.

Condos

Each individual condo usually has a different owner. This gives you a lot more freedoms, since not everyone has to be held to all the same rules, and you can look around until you find an owner willing to rent to you that’s more permissive. There is, however, usually a Homeowners Association that requires every resident to pay monthly fees for, along with setting rules for the outside of your home.

Related: 5 DIY Home Skills You Should Know

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Maintenance and Professionalism

Apartments

Apartment complexes will typically have a staff on hand to deal with maintenance. Many even have a 24 hour emergency on-call maintenance, in case your heat goes out or you have a water leak. This is a huge perk of apartment living. If something breaks, as long as you notify the manger, the problem is resolved quickly. If you give permission, maintenance can even fix the problem while you are at work.

The dedicated staff also means that you’re going to have, in general, a more professional experience with an apartment building than a condo.

Condos

If something breaks at your rental condo, you have to call the owner directly. If he or she isn’t naturally handy, he will have to call an outside vendor. Then you have to be home when the vendor arrives to do the work so there is scheduling involved. Minor issues can take a while to fix and may be inconvenient for you.

In many other ways, the ownership of a condo, being an individual, tends to be less professional overall. The owner is an individual who also does other things, not a company that does nothing but rent out property, so they’re not as prepared for every possibility that might come up.

Unit comparison: Apartment vs Condo

Apartments

Apartments tend to be cookie-cutter – your unit will look like your neighbor’s, which looks like everyone else’s – and will typically, but not always, have fewer upgrades than condos. Apartment buildings may change owners, but will always be rentals, so from the owner’s perspective, putting extra money into them isn’t always wise. You might find far more carpet, vinyl and formica than hardwoods and granite, but newer developments are often incorporating at least some of today’s hottest design trends.

Condos

Condos are more unique and more upgraded than your typical apartment. Even if they’re being rented now, they’re being maintained for the possibility of being sold in the future. You’re going to find more hardwood floors and granite countertops, which look great to renters but really speak to future buyers.

The owner is building equity on the home while renting to you. You get a better place to live now, and they get a good return on their investment later.

Amenities

There aren’t a lot of differences in building amenities; apartments and condos will tend to have very similar ones, like pools and weight rooms. You’re more likely to find more upscale versions with condos, since better amenities help raise property values.

The differences between a condo and an apartment are not huge at first glance, but worth noting when choosing your next home. If you know your preference, it can help you find a home that suits your needs.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Apartment Hunting

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About The Author

Bekah Steenbock is a freelance writer with a background in real-estate and business growth. She is a native Austinite, but has called Seattle, Mankato, Milwaukee, Las Vegas and Atlanta home. Bekah, her husband, and their three children love exploring the outdoors in their spare time.

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