A lot of first-time homebuyers dip their toe in the housing market by buying a condo or townhome, but these flexible housing options are great for people at every stage of life.
The decision to own a condo or townhome has less to do with your stage of life or how much experience you have with real estate, and more to do with your lifestyle, how you want to live in your new home, and how much maintenance you’re willing to commit to it.
Here are some of the benefits of owning a condo or townhome, so you can decide if it sounds like how you want to live, no matter what stage of life you find yourself in.
Expect a lot less upkeep when you own a condo or townhome than what you’d expect with a detached house. Homeowners Associations (HOA) takes care of building maintenance in shared spaces, and you have a lot less “house” to worry about. “The best thing about my townhome was that I didn’t have to do much yard work!” says entrepreneur Amy Lloyd, who bought her first townhome in Redondo Beach, California. “The HOA covered everything.”
In the end, the reduced responsibilities and lower costs associated with condos and townhomes are a win-win for the right shopper, whether you’re a recent grad buying your first home or a baby boomer looking to downsize and everything in between.
Ask Lloyd what most appealed to her about buying a townhouse, and she’ll say the security of having neighbors so close. “As a single woman, a townhome felt safer to me,” she says. Even when she wasn’t home she liked the benefit of having so many eyes and ears close by. “My work required me to travel, so I was gone a lot, and I liked that there was always someone around.”
You don’t have to be single or travel frequently to appreciate an added layer of security, of course. Gina Polo, a condo-dwelling attorney in downtown Miami appreciates that there’s only one entry and exit to her building, and that a security officer has to call homeowners for approval before letting visitors step into the elevator. “I also don’t worry about someone stealing delivered packages because there’s always someone at reception to receive it.”
Pools, gyms, business centers, and 24-hour security, these are just a few of the amenities you might find in a condo or townhouse community, and a huge reason that so many people are drawn to them. “I get an amazing gym with a view of Miami’s Biscayne Bay and a pool that’s well maintained,” Polo says. “And I don’t have to spend a fortune on a gym membership or a pool service every month to have it.”
While the number and quality of amenities varies by community, it’s become increasingly popular to offer these perks, with some developers outdoing each other to see who can offer potential buyers more. Says Polo, “Every building I’ve ever lived in Miami has amenities. I even had a mini grocery store and a hair salon on the ground floor at one time!”
Lots of people are drawn to the idea of being connected to their neighbors. As a result, many condo and townhome communities regularly host parties or other events to bring neighbors together. From Fourth of July fireworks and Easter egg hunts to standing cocktail parties on the First Friday of every month in a community clubhouse, the options run the gamut. Attendance is always optional, so you’re free to decide how much—or how little—you want to take part. But just knowing the opportunity to connect exists is enough for some people. For those who are new to a city or town and looking to meet new people, it’s an excellent advantage.
Location, Location, Location
For those who want to be in the middle of the action, a condo or townhouse may be the best option. In some cases, it can even reduce your commute to work, too. “When I owned a house in suburbs I had a lengthy commute to work every day, now it consists of a 5-minute walk,” Polo says. “Having that time back in my life has enormous value for me.”
Generally speaking, it’s hard to find a sprawling home in the middle of a city’s downtown. If you do manage to find a home like this, chances are it costs a fortune. As a result, you’re more likely to see condos and townhouses than detached homes in city centers, putting the pulse of your city or town right at your fingertips.
A Sense of Community
If you’re the kind of person who wants to feel a sense of belonging to a community, a condo or townhome is perfect. People who live in condos and townhomes usually have to walk their dogs or take their kids to nearby parks, which encourages interactions with neighbors who are also doing the same. “I like that my condo is in more of a pedestrian community where there’s always someone walking a dog, pushing a stroller, or riding a bike,” Polo says. “I rarely spoke to my neighbors when I lived in the suburbs.”
Ana Connery is former content director of Parenting, Babytalk, Pregnancy Planner and Conceive magazines as well as parenting.com.
While editor in chief of Florida Travel & Life magazine from 2006-2009, she covered the state’s real estate and home design market as well as travel destinations.
She’s held senior editorial positions at some of the country’s most celebrated magazines, including Latina, Fitness and Cooking Light, where she oversaw the brand’s “FitHouse” show home.
Ana’s expertise is frequently sought after for appearances on “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America” and CNN. She has interviewed the country’s top experts in a variety of fields, including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and First Lady Michelle Obama.