The Condo - House Dilemma
I used to have a dream. I guess I still do. I want to be able to live in such a way that I can pack up everything I have at a moment's notice.
Truth be told, I am living this dream. I have recently put all that I have in two boxes and two day packs. I can go wherever I want, whenever I want to.
Still, I am looking at getting a place of my own in the very near future. Not so long ago, I lived in a condo. I was renting, sure, but it was still "my" place. And until recently, I called a detached house my home. It was beautiful.
Now, I am once again looking at getting a place to call my own. The dilemma I face is not unique. People who are in the market for a home - whether short-term or long-term - may have to choose between a condo unit or a house.
For some, it is an easy choice. This may be due to financial reasons, availability, or personal preference. For others, there may be more flexibility in choice. That is where I find myself right now, and I thought it would be good to share my thoughts as I make the choice.
If you are facing the same dilemma, I hope you find this hub useful.
Houses: The Good and the Bad
Everyone dreams of having a house. Arguably.
It used to be the dream, I suppose, but with the changes in lifestyle, a house is not always on everyone's list. This is especially true of those who prefer to live in the city where convenience matters most. Still, there is much to be said about choosing a house over a condo.
Let's first take a look at the pros of living in a house.
- Space. A decent house gives you more in terms of space as compared to condo units. Even if it's not a mansion, you can still go for a house with distinct rooms - living area, kitchen, bedrooms, and so on. If you're lucky, you can even get a small patch of land outside that you can call a garden.
This is also critical if you live with other people. Condos are comfy and can be spacious if you can afford a huge unit. At the end of the day, however, a house is better for a several-people household. You don't all have to move side ways just to avoid bumping into each other all the time.
- Privacy. This is a big consideration for me. Houses, whether detached or semi-detached, provide more privacy. You don't have to live in a box of a condo where other people are going about their business on the other side of the wall. Business that sometimes you can hear through the walls.
From the other end, you are also assured of more privacy. You do not have to worry that your private discussions (arguments, maybe) can always be heard by the neighbors.
- A sense of freedom. Living in a house, you simply have to walk to the door and step outside to get a whiff of air. Whether that is fresh or not, it depends on where you live. Compare that to a condo where you have to walk down the hall to the elevator, wait for the elevator to reach your floor, take the ride down to the lobby, and so on.
More so, if you are the type who enjoys listening to music, watching movies, or playing video games with the volume turned up a little high, you will have more freedom to do so if you live in a house.
As for the disadvantages, here are the ones I can think of.
- Price. In the city, especially, the popularity of condo buildings has contributed to the decreasing cost of that type of housing. Additionally, the premium on land in the metro areas has never been this high. The downside to this, obviously, is that houses in these areas can cost an arm and a leg. Even more.
- Maintenance. Owning or renting a house means a lot of responsibility, usually more than owning a condo unit. From changing a lightbulb or the locks to plumbing issues - you will have more of these things to deal with.
- Location. As already mentioned, space is a much wanted commodity. If you work in the city center, the chances of you finding a house in the area are lower. Usually, if you prefer living in a house, you will have to make a trade off: location.
Condos: The Good and the Bad
Let's get right to it. What's great about living in a condo?
- Location! I loved living in that little shoebox of a condo for years. I just had to go down and walk to the office. That meant being able to wake up later as well. Usually, condo buildings are built near every possible convenience. In this case, convenience is so worth it.
- Low maintenance. Depending on your building administration, you normally will not have to worry about maintenance issues if you live in a condo. The in-house maintenance people will do everything for you. Here's another plus: with a small living space, it is also easier for you to keep things clean, if not always spic and span.
- The view. This, of course, depends on where the building is situated and your particular unit. However, if you live high up enough, the city skyline is a beautiful thing at night.
How about the downsides to condo living?
- The feeling of living in a fishbowl. That's how I felt after a while. Hundreds - even thousands - of units crammed into such a small space. That equates to thousands and thousands of people. It gets stifling after a while.
- Less meaningful contact with people. I am not sure if every condo dweller experiences this, but practically all the people in my circle who live in a condo agrees with me. One cannot count the number of neighbors that are actually friends. It is a sad state of affairs, really. It seems that living in small enclosed spaces makes people withdraw even more.
- Additional costs. This will vary depending on the condo, but association dues are almost always required. These dues cover things such as security, maintenance, common areas, the gym, swimming pool, etc. If you use all the amenities provided by the building, then it should be fair. If you don't, then you are merely spending on something you do not benefit from.
The Bottom Line
For those who are buying, here is something that may help you even more. While some of the information is specific to the Japanese market, you will still be able to glean some insights that can help in making an informed decision.
At the end of the day, the decision is something that cannot be made off the top of your head. Take the time to sit down and analyze things. You'll be living with your decision for a while. Or rather, you'll be living in it!