The benefits of condo ownership seem to be winning over homeowners across the province. Although not for everyone, condo living does have some distinct advantages over freehold homes, and has become an increasingly attractive home ownership option for singles, young couples, families and retired couples… just about everyone! Condominiums are typically located in well established, proven neighborhoods, providing owners with many conveniences and amenities they might require.  From the modest and surprisingly affordable to the spectacularly luxurious, condos offer choices for every income and lifestyle.

Contrary to popular belief, the term “condominium” is in fact a legal definition that refers to the method of ownership, not the type of building. Any type of home, whether in the city or suburbs – suites in low or high-rise towers, or even townhomes – can be a condominium.

Condominium ownership means “shared ownership”, so the developer of the community defines what will be owned by the individual homeowner (your “unit”) and what will be owned and maintained in a shared proportion by all of the owners together.  These shared areas of your community are often referred to as “common elements”.

Maintenance costs for these spaces are covered under the owner’s condo fees.  Some tend to be spooked at the mention of the word “fee”, however it’s not really a fee at all, but rather a contribution by community members to the shared cost of preserving their own investments and the level of services and amenities they have collectively opted for. These costs typically include landscaping, snow and garbage removal, security, underground parking (if applicable) and interior roadway maintenance, upkeep of common recreational and social areas, utilities, insurance and janitorial service.  They also include the services of a property management company to manage the shared ownership items. Calculated by the square foot or by the unit, usually whatever is fair and sensible to the build form of the condominium, condo fees are normally in line with the realistic cost of maintaining a similar home in a freehold ownership situation.

The important thing to realize as a condominium owner is that you are an integral part of a community within a community.  When you move into a condo you don’t just have neighbors. You have partners and you have enforced rules and relationships that simply do not exist after the usual home purchase transaction.

These relationships are wholly different than those you might have as an apartment renter. As co-owners of your community, your primary concern is always to maintain investment value.  Your condo board, comprised usually of fellow owners, create bylaws setting standards of behavior that exceed those of typical rental apartment buildings.  So not only will you find that the actual building itself, the grounds and common areas are maintained to a high standard, but everyone living there knows what the rules are and have every incentive to behave accordingly.

If you are so inclined, you can be involved in your condo corporation board of directors and assist in running your condo development, ensuring the quality of living experience anticipated is what the board ensures is delivered.  How many people get the chance to play a role in directing or chairing a multi-million dollar-value corporation?  It’s all up to you.  Whatever your level of involvement, as a co-owner you are always kept abreast of all condo community news and developments, and your ideas and concerns will always be heard.

Condo living definitely has its fair share of advantages, and so long as you’re well informed and are aware of what to expect, you will more than likely be thrilled with your purchase and love the unique benefits and lifestyle benefits that come with being a condo owner.