Making the choice between buying a condo or a house with land -- whether it's a big yard or acres of property -- isn't always an easy decision. One answer doesn't fit everyone, and you must find the property that matches your lifestyle and needs. There are pros and cons to living in both types of homes.
Owning landed property typically involves significantly more maintenance work on your part than living in a condo. In condos, you're not responsible for keeping up the building or the property: You don't have to plant flowers, paint the exterior or mow the grass. When you own a house, yard work and exterior home maintenance are your responsibility, meaning you must invest in the right tools and equipment. However, if you have pets or children, having outdoor space that's your own is appealing. In both housing options, you usually pay for maintenance inside the home, such as appliance repair.
Condos come with a downside -- noise from other people living in close proximity. On the upside, you're surrounded by people who enjoy the same lifestyle as you, and you can work together to keep the condo complex a friendly and inviting place to live. With landed property, your neighbors might not be close enough to get to know easily. You typically have more privacy when living in a stand-alone house, however.
Although you don't have to worry about building maintenance or landscaping when you live in a condo, you must pay monthly association fees to ensure the building, the grounds and the amenities receive the proper attention. The fees can be high, but you may have more amenities such as pools, hot tubs or workout facilities on-site. Depending on the size of the condo complex and its location, parking might be at a premium, requiring you to pay additional monthly fees for a parking spot in the condo's garage or outdoor parking area. With single-family home ownership, parking usually isn't a problem because most houses have driveways or garages.
When considering resale value, there's no right answer for every condo or landed property. It depends on the market in your area. In some areas, detached homes stay strong on the resale market, but in other areas, condos lead in resales. Ask a local real estate agent about the current market or predictions for the near future, if you're thinking about selling again in a few years. When shopping for condos that you might resell in a few years, look for complexes that stay nearly full because there are more owners to share the expenses of maintaining the building and amenities. For landed properties, find those that are in desirable school districts in neighborhoods with few foreclosures and steady resale prices.
Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.