House or Condo? Which is Better?

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Real Estate


The two most popular property choices when purchasing are, a single-family home or a condominium. Most wonder, which is better? If you ask around, you will likely receive a different answer from each and every person. That is because the truth is, neither is better. Condominiums work great for certain wants and needs, and single-family homes work great for others. So, which is best for you? We decided to dig into the pros and cons of both so that you can learn which would suit you best. 



Single Family Home




Private Yard

When you own a single-family home, you own the land that it is built on as well. This means you are able to customize your yard to your liking. It’s true that some condo buildings have common outdoor spaces, but they are all shared. You cannot guarantee that other residents will not be occupying the shared spaces when you feel like using them. With a single-family home, you can decorate your yard in any way you wish, use it to host family nights, play with your pets and more. You never have to worry about other people using it because it is yours and yours only. 


Control over the Property

When you own a home, you can customize the inside however you like as well. If you feel like tearing down a wall to expand your master bedroom, you do not need anyone’s approval. With a condo, customizations may require board approval. If you want full control over the design of your home, it would be wise to search for a single-family home. Single-family homes work great for families that may need to alter the layout of their space to accommodate growing children.


More Storage Space

With a single-family home, you tend to have more storage space. Some have garages, basements, extra closets and more. Condos typically have storage units that you can either rent or are part of your condo fees, however, they are not nearly the size of a basement or garage. If you are someone who needs added storage space for your family, your hobbies or both, consider a single-family home. You may be able to even build additional sheds on the land of a single-family home if zoning permits it for additional storage.


Easier to Sell

Since single-family homes are the more traditional approach, they are typically easier to sell. They make great investments for multiple property owners too as they can act as move-in homes or investments. Condo popularity is on the rise, but it seems that single-family homes always stand the test of time. Also, banks are usually more comfortable lending for single-family homes rather than multi-family homes in terms of investing. 




More Expensive

Because of the added land and space, Single-family homes are often more expensive than condos. So, if you are a first-time home buyer, a single-family home may be priced higher than your budget. In Halifax alone, the average price for a condo in the past twelve months was $343,383, while the average price of a single-family home was $421,891! That is around 80K more! All of that added space, yard and storage comes with an added cost!


Renovation and Maintenance costs

When you own a single-family home, you are in charge of any needed renovations and maintenance. If your foundation needs repair, if your hot water heater malfunctions or you get termite damage, it is money out of your own pocket. If you are thinking of purchasing a single-family home, make sure you have savings for these unexpected costs.


Utility Costs are All Yours

When you live in a condo, some of the utilities, such as water, may be included in your condo fees. With a home, you are responsible for all utility costs. This can be an additional 500-1000$ per month depending on how much energy you use, and your internet package. With single-family homes being typically larger than condos, their energy bills are usually higher too.


No Amenities

Even though you do get your own yard when you own a home, the land and maybe a garage are the only added “amenities”. Some condo buildings have a large variety of amenities that can make living feel luxurious. This can include gyms, pools, rooftop terraces, common rooms for parties, dog wash stations and more. 






Cheaper Insurance

Because you are only insuring the four walls in which you live in for a condo, home owner’s insurance is typically cheaper for condo owners. The condominium building has its own insurance to cover the building, therefore you are liable for much fewer moving parts than a whole single-family home. 



As we spoke about in the cons of owning a single-family home, condo buildings can offer many amenities to add luxury to your life. Condo buildings often include gyms, swimming pools, underground parking, concierge service, on-site management, snow removal, landscaping and more, making living a breeze. If you are not someone who likes to maintain the exterior of their home, condo living is for you. These amenities are also most beneficial for retirees who would rather not be responsible for added maintenance.



Condominium buildings are normally situated in downtown areas of cities, or at least close to downtown. This gives condo owners great access to the best areas of the city. If you enjoy being just a walk away from a cafe, grocer or bar, then condo living is for you. This feature makes condo living great for working professionals who would rather walk to work than have to commute. 


Less Space/Downsize

Sometimes, extra space is not always the best thing. If you are looking to downsize, live alone or are just a family of two, you may not want extra space. In fact, having to keep extra space clean and maintained may overwhelm you. In this case, a condo would be a great choice as they are typically smaller. Think of a couple whose children have all grown up: perhaps they do not want to upkeep an entire house anymore. 




Harder to sell

Condos are not necessarily hard to sell, but they typically are a little harder to sell than single-family homes. Condos have gained popularity in recent years, however, there are still always more buyers looking for single-family homes. If we look at the Halifax market over the past twelve months, Single Family Homes have sold in on average 39 days, while condos have sold in on average 49 days. Both have sold fast, but as you can see, condos tend to take a little longer.


Condo Fees

Each condo building has a corporation in which owners must pay dues to monthly. These fees go towards the maintenance, amenities and major repairs or improvements of the building. These fees also give owners access to all of the common elements in the building. They are an added expense, however, they may sometimes include your parking and some utilities, which helps offset the cost. 



One of the main issues with condos that owners face is the limits on how units can be customized. When shopping for a condo, make sure you are very happy with its layout and style, as many renovations must be approved by the condo board. There are also many added rules when living in a condo building that must be respected in order to provide a healthy atmosphere for all condo owners.


Less Privacy

Living in a condo building means sharing walls with your neighbours. This can foster a great community, however, it means less privacy as well. You must also be mindful of your neighbours when living in a condo building, meaning you need to be conscious of your noise levels in the late hours of the night. If you are someone who often throws parties or enjoys entertaining, you may want to consider a single-family home.


There are many other pros and cons we could list here, but I think we got the point across: there is not a clear cut answer on whether condos or single-family homes are best. If you are still stumped, you can always give us a call! We would be happy to point you in the right direction! 


Andrew Perkins