As you start to think about downsizing your household into a condominium or a townhome, the many conveniences of condo living can certainly be appealing. Shared expenses for basic maintenance in a condo community seems like an easy way to keep costs low and the community clean and well-kept. You'll also be in a place where you can easily leave to wherever your life takes you without all the responsibilities of a large home.
However, you do need to keep a level mind in your decision. Shared ownership of land and structures can be complex, and it’s wise to consider all the options carefully before choosing this type of shared living.
Benefits of Condo Living
Smaller Price Tag
In many cases, condos are less expensive than home ownership although condo fees for upkeep and repairs need to be taken into consideration. Condo communities are often very appealing with central locations, excellent amenities, and a well-kept appearance for this reason. Price aside, there are other enticing financial benefits to downsizing that you should consider as you make your decision.
Condo living generally offers greater safety and security for its residents as opposed to those living in a single family home. Many buildings feature state of the art secure entrances and in some instances, a security or door man. In addition, your close proximity to neighbours ensures there is always someone close by to keep an eye on things while you’re away.
When you choose to live in a condominium, all homeowners will pay regular fees that are pooled together to provide basic services and maintenance for the entire community. This means tasks such as mowing the lawn, shovelling snow or landscaping can be paid for and completed on behalf of the group. Major expenses such as siding, roofing or sidewalk repair can be shouldered by the community as well, depending on the nature of the condominium owners agreements.
Condominiums have areas such as recreation rooms, fitness centers and beautiful common areas. These types of amenities can be geared towards professionals, or older adults, so you should consider whether these shared spaces reflect your lifestyle. Their construction and maintenance are also paid for by the condo owners as a group.
A Few Things to Consider
Although it provides many conveniences, the monthly costs of group repairs and maintenance are ongoing even after you’ve paid off your mortgage. These costs may also rise over time, especially if larger maintenance or repair issues are identified; the more amenities the condo community has, the more potential expenses can come into play. Older buildings can be expected to require quite a bit of maintenance as they age.
Although rare, major repairs can take condo owners by surprise. Special assessments occur when a condo association goes over budget for repairs, maintenance etc. That is to say, if the condo board exceeds the budget by $5000.00, those costs are passed to you and fellow owners to make up the difference. This same scenario applies in the event of any unforeseen major repairs. If there is not enough in the reserve fund to cover the cost, you and the other owners will be required to pay the deficit.
Other obstacles to condo living can include lack of parking, difficult access and close proximity to neighbours. When you visit a condo community, imagine yourself bringing in groceries or sharing outside space with your neighbours; if it seems like it will be difficult, you may wish to choose a different type of living situation.
Condo Ownership: Know your Rights
As you make purchasing decisions, you may be considering condominiums with minimal fees and simple rules that are easy to follow. However, as residents change and condo boards gain different members, those costs and rules could change dramatically. Additionally, there are different types of condo ownership in Calgary, and the nature of your condominium contract can have an effect on your obligations and rights.
Calgary’s local laws and regulations can help you understand the parameters of what is allowed in the area, and an attorney can provide helpful guidance in understanding the potential costs and risks of the different types of condo ownership. Because of the complexities of this type of home ownership, it’s important to have professional guidance when making such a purchase.
In summary, if you are considering the condo lifestyle, be sure to do your research ahead of time. You should also answer this list of questions before you buy. Know your rights and what to look for to avoid any pitfalls associated with poor condo management; look at their documentation and speak to current residents. New condo developments are especially good to consider as they are well-managed, affordable, convenient and a great choice for low-maintenance living.