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Condo vs Apartment: How are they different?

Difference between condo and apartment

Condo vs Apartment: How are they different?

When looking for a house to rent or buy comes up against a multitude of listings. While the difference between houses and apartments is noticeable, it is not always easy to tell between a condominium (condo) and an apartment. Some people even tend to think of the two terms referring to the same type of residential building.

While they may seem similar in terms of exterior appearance, design, and specifications, these two types of properties are different. Their differences can affect your lifestyle and the way you function daily. It is therefore essential to choose an option that meets your individual needs.

The biggest difference between a condo vs apartment is ownership. An apartment is defined as a residence that is rented, often as part of a larger residential building. A condo is similar in structure to an apartment — usually a unit within a larger residential building — but condos are owned instead of rented.

Apartments are typically housed within a complex of dozens or hundreds of similar units, and the units are owned by a single entity and leased out. A condo is owned by one individual (or couple, etc) and is either owner-occupied or rented out.

Difference between Condo and Apartment

Whether you’re planting roots in a bustling, bustling metropolis or downsizing to a smaller space, an apartment is a great place to feel at home. But that’s where the problem lies: it’s so easy to mistake an apartment for a condo and vice versa. (That’s okay, there’s no shame here.) 

Since the two structures are considerably smaller than a freestanding home, it’s easy to think that a condo and an apartment are synonymous. While they may look the same, they have little nuances that make the two different.

So what’s the difference between an apartment and a condo? We’re happy you asked. To help you navigate the sometimes complicated world of real estate, we’ve asked a few experts to break down some key terms. 

What is the difference between a Condo and an Apartment ?

The most significant difference between a condo and an apartment is ownership. An apartment is defined as a rented residence, often as part of a larger residential building. A condo is similar to an apartment – usually a unit in a larger residential building – but condos are owned instead of rented.

What is a condo?

Before deciding if you should buy a condo, it’s essential to do the math because expenses can add up quickly. In addition to making a sizeable down payment, condo owners are generally financially responsible for any necessary repairs to their unit and any need for renovations. Oh, and did we mention that most condo owners also have to pay the Home Owners Association or HOA (Co-Ownership Association) fees? In other words, the whole effort doesn’t come cheap.

While buying a condo may come as an initial shock, it could work in your favor.

One of the advantages of owning a condo over renting is that you own the apartment, and it is an investment that you will earn equity on. By renting, you are simply putting money in the owner’s pocket of the building. Although condo prices can fluctuate, the amount you could rent it for would only increase.

Unless you want to become a real estate mogul or certified pinball machine, you will be living in your condo for the long haul. Once you think beyond the down payment and long-term commitment, a condo offers many benefits. Since you are the proud owner of your condo, you can set the house rules. 

Apartments will usually have a pet policy, and you may or may not have a pet. With condo ownership, one also has the freedom to do interior updates to the home rather than renting an apartment. In an apartment, the most you can do is paint the walls and hang a few pictures or shelves.

Condo vs Apartment: How are they different?

Want to become a puppy parent? Dark! Ready to swap that accent wall for a whimsical wallpaper? Turn your design dreams into reality. When you’re the one in charge, you have the power to create a home that looks like. Well, like you.

Another thing to love about owning a condo? Your neighbors are in the same boat. While the condo owners association is generally responsible for maintaining the exterior and common areas of the building, condo owners typically treat every nook and cranny as if it were their own.

While a condo unit owner doesn’t own the entire building, they still treat common indoor and outdoor spaces as if they were their own. Renters are less likely to pick up trash and leave pretty much all of the maintenance of the common areas of the building to the landlord because they believe that’s what paying their rent is for.

And, since your neighbors will also be in their condos for the foreseeable future, you might even get to know them on a deeper level. 


  • You define the rules of your space
  • Usually no need to deal with an owner
  • You can get to know your neighbors
  • HOA (Syndicate of co-ownership) is responsible for repairs on the exterior of the building and common areas 

The inconvenience

  • Long term commitment
  • Requires a deposit (sometimes expensive)
  • The owner is responsible for all costs of maintaining the unit
  • Homeowners must pay HOA fees 
Condo vs Apartment: How are they different?
Condo vs Apartment How are they different?

What is an apartment? 

Unlike a condo, which the tenant usually owns, apartment dwellers rent a unit from an owner. So instead of being financially responsible for a down payment, HOA ((Syndicat de Co-Ownership) fees, and all necessary repairs, you will only have to give your landlord a refundable security deposit and monthly rent.

Compared to the cost of a condo, renting an apartment can seem like a genuine bargain; however, it comes at a different kind of price. Since tenants do not own the unit in which they live, they must comply with the rules set out in their lease. 

When renting an apartment, it’s essential to read all the fine print first: some landlords may have very laid-back guidelines, while others will have strict rules on almost everything, down to whether or not you can. Paint the walls. But what if you decide to make changes to your rental unit? Chances are, the money it will take to return the unit to its original condition will come straight from your security deposit when you move out. 

Condo vs Apartment: How are they different?

In speaking of moving, an apartment is a short-term commitment. Once your lease expires, you are free to live elsewhere if you wish, making an apartment a no-brainer for anyone who wants to try out a few neighborhoods before settling there permanently. However, moving from one unit to another is not always as risky as it seems. Plus, every time your lease is renewed, your landlord may increase the rent, making it difficult to maintain even if you want to.

If you move from apartment to apartment, it could be a red flag to property management companies when [filling out] an application. Many property management companies like to see stability.

Renters in an apartment complex come and go faster than you can tell, so it will be more challenging to get to know your neighbors. 


  • Flexible engagement
  • Fewer upfront costs
  • The owners are responsible for repairs to common areas

The inconvenience

  • It can be challenging to meet neighbors
  • Tenants must respect the landlord’s lease and house rules 

So the question arises: should you live in a condo or an apartment? Well, the answer is not as simple as it sounds. Both have pros and cons, so make a list when considering buying or renting. Make a list of the pros and cons of any home you review.

To get started, consider your bank account and your stage of life. Can you afford a condo? Do you know where you would like to buy a seat? Are you ready to establish more permanent roots? Once you’ve answered these questions, you can begin to focus on finding the space of your dreams. 

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Main difference – Condo vs Apartment

Condo and apartments refer to rooms designed as residences and generally located in a building occupied by more than one household. There is no difference between condo and apartment in terms of physical attributes. The main difference between a condo and an apartment is their ownership; apartments in a complex are owned by a single entity and then rented out to individual tenants, while respective owners own condominiums.

This article takes a look at, 

  • 1. What is a condo? – Meaning, ownership, characteristics, and facilities
  • 2. What is an apartment? – Meaning, ownership, characteristics, and facilities
  • 3. What is the difference between Condo and an Apartment? 

What is a condo?

A condo or condominium is an individually owned unit. Even if only one dwelling belongs to an individual, the common parts of the building belong equally to all the owners of the condos. These areas are managed by the Condominium Owners Association (HOA). This association is formed by the co-owners of the building in question, and all members are required to pay a monthly fee. HOA takes care of general building maintenance, repairs, and improvements.

The owner of the condo can also rent the condo. In such a case, the owner of the condo is the owner of the tenant. Buying a condo is relatively cheaper than buying a house. There are also independent condominiums, single-family homes whose owner does not keep the exterior, for example, a yard or a garden.

While it is impossible to tell a condo from an apartment by looking at it, condos can build to a high-quality standard due to the difference between the rental and sale markets.

What is an apartment?

An apartment is a suite of rooms designed as a residence and generally located in a building occupied by more than one household. The term apartment is mainly used in American English; flat is the equivalent term in British English.

In American usage, an apartment is owned by a single entity, often a corporation. The individual units of the building are left to individual tenants. However, the whole building is managed and maintained by the owner. The landlord can also impose rules and restrictions on tenants.

For example, the owner decides whether a remodel can do and what type of remodeling is allowed, whether or not pets are allowed, etc. Apartments are usually equipped with general amenities such as free housekeeping, parking, on-site laundry facilities, etc.

Difference between condo and apartment

1. Ownership

Condo: Individual units are owned by individuals.

Apartment: All units belong to a single entity (in American usage).

2. Management and maintenance

Condo: The condo is managed and maintained by the HOA.

Apartment: The apartment is operated and maintained by the owner.

3. Owner

Condo: All tenants in the building have different owners.

Apartment: All tenants of the building have the same owner.

4. Maintenance

Condo: Condominium owners must pay monthly fees to HOA.

Apartment: Most apartments have free maintenance.

This article will outline some of the fundamental differences between apartments and condos to help you decide wisely. Condo vs Apartment How are they different

5. The Property

The most notorious difference between an apartment and a condo is ownership, as it also impacts the overall management of the property. While an association of owners manages most condominiums, each unit in the condo has a separate owner. More often than not, you have the option of purchasing a condo as you would a traditional home.

If you choose the rental, your landlord may not be the same as the neighboring accommodation. The only difference is that all the apartment building owners come together to share responsibility for common areas such as walkways.

The ownership of the apartments is quite different as an individual apartment cannot purchase separately. The entire apartment building will have one owner, and the units will rent out to other people.

Unlike condos that an association of owners manages, most apartments are operated by a third-party company that reports directly to the building owner. Even if you choose to rent an apartment for a set number of years, you will most likely be negotiating with the managing company and not with the building owner.

6. The Fees

In most parts of Canada, the standard rent for an apartment includes the first and last month’s rent, plus a deposit. If you decide to take a pet into the apartment, you may have to pay a fee for that pet. The warranty is in principle equivalent to one month’s rent, while the costs for pets depend on the apartment manager.

The administration fees are also applicable if you wish to rent an apartment. These fees require before signing the lease contract.

They cover a few essential expenses, such as current credit, criminal and eviction reports, to confirm that you are a severe tenant, as well as the administrative costs of verifying your employment, income, references. And your rental history.

Since each unit in a condo is owned by a different person, it is up to the owner to determine the condo fees. Therefore, the costs for each accommodation may vary. Some condo owners may require a deposit but not a pet fee, while others may allow you to move in even without paying the deposit.

It is your responsibility to negotiate and deal with the condo owner. The only standard charge applicable to all condominium units will be the owners association charge used to maintain common areas.

7. The Equipment

Most of the dwellings in apartment buildings have identical standard features. Sometimes floor plans and layouts can be different if the apartment owner invests in renovations.

Among the facilities of the shared apartments are a playground, swimming pool, gym, standard room, parking, and communal laundry facilities.

The collective amenities of the condos are pretty similar to those of the apartments, but things can be a little different in the different units.

Individual housing layouts can be unique and personalized to increase real estate value. Sometimes you can see condominiums with hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings, and granite countertops.

Condo vs Apartment: How are they different?

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