There are plenty of different ways to live if you think about a potential dwelling – from a standalone house to a shared unit in a building. If you intend to stay central, though, there are two places that you most likely would call home: a condo (also called condominium) or an apartment. Instinctively, people know the difference between them, the condo being a more high-end and expensive dwelling, versus an apartment, a simpler and lower-cost living option; but did you know there are several main differences between condos and apartments?
What are they? Let’s dig into this question!
Condo vs. Apartment – Difference #1: The question of ownership
An apartment is typically entirely owned by a leasing company that leases out its units. A condo unit is owned by a separate condo owner. A company, called a condominium corporation, manages this condominium under the supervision of a chosen circle of condo owners who make up the condo board.
That means, as an individual, you can rent an apartment, or you can either rent a condo (from an existing condo owner) or buy it and become a condo owner yourself.
Let’s assume that you are a potential tenant and are making a choice between a condo and an apartment. What else do you need to know?
Condo vs. Apartment – Difference #2: Who are you dealing with / Who manages the property?
If you are renting an apartment, you rent from a professional organization that has probably been in the business for decades. If you rent a condo, you deal directly with the condo owner. Some landlords might be overprotective and intrusive – after all, that’s their property and they are concerned about it. In the worst case, you might find yourself with a landlord who regularly comes in to check in on their property, which can be annoying.
In general, rental leasing organizations are better suited to manage leased properties since they can quickly deal with any potential issues and resolve any problems.
Condo vs. Apartment – Difference #3: Where do you pay more?
There are different financial constraints around apartments and condos.
When you rent an apartment, your rent will be lower than when you rent a condo. In 2014, Moneysense estimated that renting an apartment in Toronto cost approximately $200 less when you consider that renting a condo can result in some savings, such as not buying a monthly transportation pass or saving on a gym membership. The same criteria for Montreal revealed around $300, $100 for Vancouver, and $40 for Calgary.
A lot has changed since then – the TorontoRentals website offers more up-to-date numbers, suggesting that the average cost to rent a condo in Toronto in 2017 was $2,078, but the rent for an apartment was around $1,306, resulting in a difference of over $700. Surely, a condo might allow you to save something on a gym membership, transportation fees, and party room rentals, but these are more like consolation factors. The fact is, condos are more expensive to rent than apartments.
Condo vs. Apartment – Difference #4: What do you get for your money?
When renting a condo as opposed to an apartment, you will typically get a better choice of amenities and perks. A typical set of apartment amenities and perks would include parking, a gym, and maybe, if you are lucky, a swimming pool. Condo amenities and perks might also include a party room that you can rent for special events, a sauna, a movie room, a meeting centre, and an outdoor patio with one or more BBQ sets.
Some condominium complexes, like Westlake Condos, also have squash courts or, like Emerald City Condos, offer an indoor running track. These are more of an exception, though. Many downtown condos compromise on the space and amenities offered.
Condos vs. Apartments – Difference #5: Do a building’s age and location matter?
If you look at the entire inventory of condominiums and apartments, you will notice that condos, in general, are newer and are built in more recent years (e.g. after the 90s), whereas apartments can be somewhat more dated; many of which were built before the 90s. This is visible in the dwelling’s appearance and architecture. Most condos tend to nest in the downtown core or around large transportation hubs and subway lines, whereas apartments can be less attractive from the location perspective, and many of them can be found both in suburbs and scattered across the city.
Condo vs. Apartment – Difference #6: Where are the risks higher?
The amount of uncertainty and risk is different when dealing with condos versus apartments. When you rent an apartment, you
deal with a professional organization and things are very predictable. When you have an individual as a landlord, like in the case of a condo, you have the risk that he or she will decide to sell the property, leaving you searching for another place to live. Remember that some people purchase a condo as an investment, which is a great option when the market is growing, but once returns are not there and economic stability disappears, people will look at getting rid of their investments to minimize their debt (e.g. to avoid mortgage costs). As a condo tenant, you can be a victim of this.
Also, there is a question of ongoing funding. In an apartment, a leasing company is on the hook for all expenses, such as a defective roof, burst pipes, elevators that need maintenance, etc. In a condominium, a reserve fund is created from the condo fees and is used as needed for maintenance and upgrades. The condominium corporation’s insurance takes care of unexpected surprises. There are, though, cases where these funds are not enough, or where the condo insurance does not pay for everything. In those cases, costs are passed on to the condo owners as a special assessment. As a condo tenant, you can see this impacting your condo rental fees.
Condo vs. Apartment – What is the best option?
So, is an apartment or a condo the right option if you want to rent a place in Canada?
Well, it depends a little bit on what you need. In an ideal case, you will find in apartment in a relatively new building that is central with amenities that are comparable to condos. It is rare, but it exists!
Otherwise, your two options are:
Option 1: You are not too picky about how fancy and new a building you live in should look like, you do not care too much about proximity to the downtown core (because you have a car, or you are located close to the transportation routes), and you want to make sure that you do not overpay. Then an apartment might be the right decision for you.
Option 2: If your status of living is important to you, you enjoy living in a newer building just a few steps away from your work or subway station, and you like having a great choice of amenities, you are probably better off with a condo.
So, which option would you choose?
Hi Alex Thanks for this wonderful piece of information. I’m an outsider and looking a house for rent and your blog is very helpful for me thanks for once again.you give best Difference between Condo vs. Apartment I like your blog. and last but not least canada is a very beautiful counter and I love it.
Thank you very much, I really appreciate your comment!
Wow! Such an amazing and helpful post this is. I really really love it.
MN, thanks for stopping by.
Alex @ CondoEssentials
Is a condo the same as a unit? Some addresses use the term unit, confusing
you are right, the nomenclature can be a bit confusing – the terms “condo”, “unit”, and “condo unit” are often used interchangeably. In order to make things even more complicated, the terms “condo”, “condo building”, “condominium building”, and “condominium” can mean the building itself.
Probably the most correct way is to use the terms “condo building” that consists of “condo units”…
Thanks for stopping by here, Patsy.
Alex @ CondoEssentials
I like how you mentioned that when it comes to looking for a condominium unit, you should consider the various amenities that would be available to you should you choose to buy it–like better parking, a security service, and access to a clubhouse. Another thing to consider is the location–if it’s on a prime property then you know that it was built after a certain time period and can be found closer to many services that you might need when you move into a new location like banks, offices, and convenience stores. If I had the chance to look for… Read more »
Hey! Thanks for this detailed comparison. I know how difficult it is to choose between the two especially when you’re looking for a good place in limited budget. We moved to Toronto two months back and living in a rented apartment these days.
Thanks for helpful post. I am searching some information about real estate market in Canada..and then I got this post. Thanks for informative share about the difference between condo and apartment in Canada. by the way, I would like to share this post on my facebook wall.. I thinks some of my friends also concern with this guide.
Thanks for this admiration information. i am non-member and looking for tenant and i read your blog which was very helpful for me to understand the difference between condo and apartments.
thank you for such generous information ….very helpful point of view you elicit upon the differences so im outsider looking for such information ..my plan will be to live in canada
Generally, houses are much spacious than apartments. With the options of multiple stories, living rooms, and added parking space, and a lawn, they are more suitable for larger families. If you like to host a lot of parties, an apartment may not be suitable for you. However, you can still make the best use of the limited space in your apartment with convertible furniture and storage units.
In the end it will always depend on who will live inside the property. But this is a good comparison
Thanks for informative share! this article is helpful for people who want to rent a house in Canada.
It is great blog post. I am Always read your blog. Helpful and Informative blog. Thanks for sharing these information with us.
Thanks a lot for making a comparison between a condo and an apartment in Canada. I appreciate this comparison a lot, and I can make my decision more easily now. Please, share more content like this soon.
Really like these new tips, which I haven’t heard of before, like the Condo vs Apartment in Canada. Can’t wait to implement some of these as soon as possible.