What Is a Condo? [2024]

Written by Sunny | Edited by Dr Katherine Blake
9 minute read
Sunny’s AI summary
Embark on a comprehensive journey through condo living with our ultimate guide. From defining what a condo is, to exploring the perks and considerations of condo ownership, we cover everything you need to know. Whether it's understanding the unique blend of community and privacy condos offer, or navigating the financial aspects of condo fees and assessments, this guide is an invaluable resource for current and future condo dwellers alike. Discover why condos might just be the perfect fit for your lifestyle and what to consider before making your move. 🏢✨


Did you know that in recent years, condo living has surged in popularity, with more and more people choosing the convenience and community of a condominium over traditional housing options? So, what exactly is a condo?

In essence, a condominium (or condo for short) is a private residence within a larger complex where ownership typically includes access to shared amenities and spaces.

Considering a condominium for your next home? Whether you’re a seasoned renter on the hunt for something new or just dipping your toes into the housing market, we’re going navigate the ins and outs of condo living together and see if it’s the perfect fit for your lifestyle.

What exactly is a condominium or condo?

What Is a Condo? [2024]

A condominium stands out as a unique beast in the real estate world. Imagine owning a fabulous slice of a building, your own private sanctuary, yet having a stake in the glittering pool, the manicured gardens, and that oh-so-welcoming communal lounge.

That’s condo living for you!

It’s where you own your unit outright, but also share ownership of the building’s common areas with your fellow residents. This shared ownership extends to the land the building sits on and any communal amenities provided.

Types of Condos

From the bustling heart of the city to serene, leafy suburbs, condos come in various shapes and sizes. High-rise towers with breathtaking views, quaint low-rise buildings with a cozy vibe, townhouse-style complexes that blend the line between private and communal living, and even detached condos that offer a taste of single-family home living without the maintenance woes. Each type caters to different lifestyles and preferences, proving that there’s a condo out there for everyone.

Understanding Common Areas

The common areas in a condo complex are the shared spaces that all residents have access to and responsibility for. These can range from practical features like lobbies, hallways, and laundry rooms, to recreational facilities like pools, gyms, and party rooms.

The upkeep of these spaces is typically managed through monthly fees paid by condo owners to their homeowners’ association (HOA), ensuring that the common areas remain appealing and functional for everyone’s enjoyment.

How does condo ownership work?

When you purchase a condo, you’re buying more than just walls and a roof, you’re investing in a lifestyle. Your ownership includes the interior space of your unit—think of it as owning the air within the painted boundaries of your condo. This space is yours to decorate, renovate, and cherish.

But the condo experience doesn’t stop at your front door.

Sharing is Caring: Common Areas

Condo living is synonymous with community. As a condo owner, you share ownership of the building’s common areas with your fellow residents. These shared spaces can range from the functional, like lobbies and elevators, to the luxurious, such as rooftop terraces, swimming pools, and fitness centers. It’s a collective ownership model where everyone chips in to maintain and improve these communal assets.

The Financial Side of Things: Fees and Assessments

Here’s where the concept of “condo ownership” gets a bit more complex. To keep the common areas well-maintained and the building running smoothly, condo owners pay monthly association fees. These fees cover everything from landscaping and cleaning services to repairs and utility costs for shared spaces.

But wait, there’s more! Occasionally, the building might need significant repairs or upgrades that the regular fees can’t cover. That’s when special assessments come into play. These are one-off charges levied on owners to fund big projects, like replacing the roof or upgrading the elevator. It’s a shared burden for the greater good, ensuring that the condo complex remains a pleasant place to live.

What are the main differences between a condo and an apartment?

What Is a Condo? [2024]

The eternal question for many a renter and buyer alike: What sets a condo apart from an apartment? While at first glance, condos and apartments may seem interchangeable, especially when comparing their physical structures, the devil is in the details - or in this case, the ownership and financial nuances.

Ownership vs. Renting

When you buy a condo, you’re purchasing the unit itself - walls, ceiling, and floor, along with the rights to use common areas. It’s yours to sell, rent out, or redecorate in hot pink if that’s your vibe. Apartments, on the other hand, are typically owned by a landlord or a property management company.

As a tenant, you pay rent to live there, but your name isn’t on any deed.

Of course, this isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of condos for rent as well, though, often, people looking for condos are looking to purchase.

Control Over Space and Amenities

Condo owners often have a say in the management of the building and its amenities, from the fitness center to the rooftop terrace, through their homeowners’ association (HOA).

They can vote on issues like building improvements and budget allocations. Apartment dwellers, however, have less control over these areas. While they can enjoy the amenities, decisions about them are left up to the landlord or management.

Financial Differences

Financial considerations further differentiate condos from apartments. Condo owners pay a mortgage if they haven’t bought the unit outright, plus monthly HOA fees for the upkeep of common areas and the building’s exterior. These fees can also contribute to a reserve fund for major repairs. Apartment renters, meanwhile, are responsible for their monthly rent and sometimes utilities, but they don’t have to worry about maintenance costs or property taxes directly.

What are the advantages of living in a condo?

What Is a Condo? [2024]

Living in a condo is about embracing a lifestyle filled with convenience, community, and comfort.

With the rise of condo living, it’s important to spotlight the real experiences and sentiments of those who’ve made condos their homes.

A World of Amenities at Your Doorstep

Imagine having a gym, swimming pool, party rooms, and even a cinema or game room just a few steps from your door. That’s condo living for you!

The array of amenities available in most condominium complexes is a significant draw for many residents. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast, love to entertain, or simply enjoy lounging by the pool on a sunny day, these facilities offer something for everyone—without the hassle of maintenance or extra costs.

It’s like living in a resort where every day feels like a vacation.

Community Vibes

One of the heartwarming aspects of condo living is the sense of community it fosters. Many condo dwellers make lifelong friends within their building, participating in organized social events, or simply enjoying the camaraderie that comes from shared living spaces. It’s like having a built-in social network right where you live!

A Secure Haven

Safety and security are paramount in today’s world, and condos often offer enhanced security features that give residents peace of mind. From gated entries and 24-hour security personnel to modern surveillance systems, living in a condo can make you feel secure and protected.

This added layer of security is especially appreciated by those who travel frequently or live alone.

What are the disadvantages of condo living?

What Is a Condo? [2024]

While condo living does come with its fair share of perks, it’s also important to shine a light on some of the aspects that might give potential buyers and renters pause.

Monthly Fees and Special Assessments

One of the realities of condo life is the monthly homeowners’ association (HOA) fees. Even if you don’t own your condo, your landlord can pass these fees on to you.

These fees go towards maintaining and improving the common areas and amenities we all love. However, they can also be a significant monthly expense, varying greatly depending on the condo’s location, size, and the luxuries provided.

Mitigation Tip: Research the condo’s HOA fees and financial health before buying. Ask your potential landlord whether or not they will be responsible for these fees.

Limited Privacy

Condo living means close quarters with your neighbors. Shared walls, floors, and ceilings can sometimes lead to unwanted noise and a feeling of reduced privacy. This can be a significant shift, especially for those used to the solitude of a detached home.

Mitigation Tip: Consider the building’s construction quality and soundproofing measures. Visiting the condo at different times of the day can also provide insight into the general noise level and neighbor activity.

Presenting Disadvantages as Considerations

It’s crucial to view these disadvantages not as deal-breakers but as considerations. They’re part of the package that comes with the convenience, amenities, and community spirit of condo living. For many, the benefits far outweigh these considerations, but it’s all about finding the right balance for your lifestyle and budget.

How do condos compare to townhomes, apartments, and houses?

What Is a Condo? [2024]

Navigating the waters of the rental and housing market can feel like charting the unknown, which is why we want to break down the differences between condos, townhomes, apartments, and houses.


Townhomes are multi-floor homes sharing one or two walls with adjacent properties but have their own entrances. Privacy is enhanced compared to condos, as fewer walls are shared. Access to amenities can be similar to condos if part of a larger community with an HOA. Maintenance responsibilities might include personal outdoor spaces, offering a bit more autonomy than condo living.


Apartments are rented spaces within a building. Renters enjoy privacy within their unit with access to amenities like gyms or pools (depending on the building), without the commitment of maintenance fees.


Houses offer the utmost privacy, with no shared walls and often, a yard. Access to amenities is on a personal scale, think private pools or gardens, with the maintenance responsibility squarely on the homeowner’s shoulders.

Houses provide a level of autonomy and responsibility unmatched by the other options, including maintenance, landscaping, and repairs.


It’s abundantly clear that condominiums offer a blend of convenience, community, and comfort that’s hard to find elsewhere. Condo living is a lifestyle choice that caters to diverse needs and preferences, whether you’re venturing into homeownership for the first time or want to rent with community in mind.

Ready to take the first step towards finding your dream condo? Use our AI-powered apartment-finding platform! Tailored to fit your lifestyle and preferences, our platform makes it easy to filter through countless options to find the condo that’s right for you.

Whether you’re looking for luxury amenities, a pet-friendly environment, or a place close to work, our technology is here to guide you every step of the way. Explore Now

what is a condo
Meet our contributors
Dr Katherine Blake
Dr Katherine Blake
Content Editor
Dr. Katherine Blake is a content editor with Apartment List and Sunny, where she helps ensure our renter and rental management content is fresh and informed by the latest data. Holding a PhD in English Literature from Indiana University, Dr. Blake is not only adept at creating compelling narratives but also brings over a decade of experience as an academic researcher.
What to read next