One of the most common questions comes to mind when deciding to buy a home to live in Toronto is which one better suits you: condos or houses? It is a big decision to make. Of course, so many factors should be considered, including your budget, location, and your lifestyle.
According to a report by Royal LePage, about 18% of first-time buyers choose to buy a condo, and about 15% prefer to buy a house. Surely, there are differences between the two types of dwellings which can be advantage or disadvantage for each type of family.
For most people buying a house is not just about putting a roof over their head. It can be one of their most important investments which may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, this article tries to show you some cons and pros about living in a condo vs. a house in Toronto to help you make a better decision. Although the best advice here is to use the help of a top Toronto real estate agent who completely knows Toronto’s housing market.
What is a condo?
A condo is a separate apartment in a shared building or a complex, usually has a smaller size than a house. Mostly, first-time buyers and investors prefer to buy condos. Condos need less maintenance and they are typically less expensive than houses. But you only own the interior space of the unit. There are restrictions for making any changes to your condo or even decorating for holidays.
What is a house?
A house is a free-standing residential structure. Houses mainly have front yards/backyard. When you buy a house, you also own the land the property sits on. So you are free to make any changes you like (subject to the city approvals). You are also responsible for insurances, mortgages, renovations and all the maintenance costs and fees.
Comparison between living in condo vs. a house
As we mentioned above, condos are less expensive than houses, but houses have higher resale values due to demand. The house owners have more freedom and privacy, this is why people are more eager to buy a freehold house. However, it means more responsibilities and expenses than condos. The lower price of condos means a lower down payment and a lower monthly expenses too.
When it comes to purchase price, you better know that the houses can be better options for a long term investment if you have a higher budget. Even though condos usually appreciate at a higher pace in Toronto.
Buying a condo means less concern about keeping up your property. You don’t need to worry about cutting the grass in springs or shoveling the walkways in winter. In Toronto, most condo owners pay a monthly maintenance fee for all the standard space amenities. If you are that kind of person who prefers to stay in the cozy condo and barely use the amenities, this would be an issue. As during the COVID-19 pandemic, many condo owners still have to pay fees even if the facilities are closed.
You can just simply relax in your condo and let the condo management and staff do their job. You are only responsible for the interior. The maintenance fee that you pay, also covers the insurance for the exterior space. It means you don’t need to worry if something went wrong with the roof. The insurance could cover it.
When you buy a freehold house, you own the whole property inside and out. So, you may expect higher insurance costs, paying for water and garbage, higher heating and electrical bills, maintenance fees, and renovations all on your shoulders. Besides there are some unexpected costs like a leaky roof that should be considered. Especially in Toronto, in which most of the houses are older than 50 years.
So as a house owner you are responsible for mowing the lawns, painting the house, cleaning the gutters, pruning the trees, and shoveling the snow. Or you can pay someone else to do it for you, which results in higher maintenance costs. Besides, since you own the interior and exterior of the property, you should pay more for insurance. You better expect higher property taxes for the house and the land.
If you are sociable and co-mingling with other people, buying a condo can be a best choice for you. Condo complexes usually attract residents with similar backgrounds and interests. So you may find some friends among your neighbors while using recreational amenities of your condo like a swimming pool or in the gym salon. You are part of a small community.
But you should always consider having some noisy neighbors or nosy rosies who are trying to poke their nose into your business. On the contrary, when you live in a house you own your four walls and the whole yard. Although there is lack of intimacy when there is one house per acre in your neighborhood, you can enjoy your weekend without any disturbing neighbor.
Control over space
As an owner of a freehold house, you are free to renovate the land and the whole building (subject to the city approvals and zonings). You have your private space to customize as you want. You have your own entrance and parking lot. You can make any changes you want, build a playhouse or a private pool, create a rose garden, or host a barbeque party in your backyard.
House owners might even add an addition, when their family grows. They can easily knock down a wall and make the room bigger. Or they can put fences around the yard, so their children play safely.
But condo has many restrictions in this regard. Since you only own the interior of the unit, you are not allowed to make any changes. There is less space available, you should know how to use your limited space usefully.
So if it is important for you to renovate your house in your own way or you have plans to grow your family, your only option would be buying a house. Condos can be a better choice for singles or couples.
Security and privacy
Despite the whole freedom you have in a large house, generally it is not very secure. There is easy access to all the windows and doors directly leading onto the street. You can buy a security system to protect your house, but it is not a cheap option. Otherwise, most condo complexes have security services and doormen for higher security.
Living in a condo means you have access to everything right out of the door. Condo complexes are mostly constructed in rural areas. Some of them even have grocery stores underneath. So, you just go down the elevator. In those condos some services, shops and restaurants might be available within a short walking distance.
But if you want to live in a house, you must be more flexible about the location. They are mostly located far from the downtowns and it would not be easy to access different services. But if you have school-age children, you better know that best schools are usually in residential areas where houses are.
Condos Vs. Houses- The Pros and Cons
Toronto has always been a busy and active city in Canada, which is located along the most famous lake of Ontario. The population of this city enjoys a different mix of culture and background.
Different people prefer to enjoy different choices. Some like the scenic view of the lake and the others like to be in the middle of the city, the Downtown. So, the choices of living are various.
At this point, an important question is proposed. Which side to choose? A condo vs. A house.
Reports and Stats
Toronto Real Estate Board released a report about the condo rates in Toronto. Based on this report, condos were the number-one investment option in Toronto, on the other hand, people still believe in owning houses with full authority. Therefore, judging becomes really challenging.
Investor’s Point of View
The people residing in Toronto were challenged making their decisions about their future homes.
Regarding the recent investigations, at the moment, condos are the best option for investment but on the other hand, a sharp decrease in the price of houses; detached, semis and even townhouses, and a huge increase in the price of condos has left investors in the dilemma of buying a house vs. a condo.
You have the full residence in a house while in condos, common areas like lawns, fences, parking and other common utilities should be shared.
So, those with an individualistic mindset go for houses but younger generations go for condos with the thought of a better investment in the future.
A house needs more money for insurance, because the whole area and more possessions should be insured, whereas in condos, a lot of spaces are common and the owner only needs to insure the inner space and his own property which helps him decrease his insurance costs.
Cleaning, checking, servicing, plumber costs, repairing and day-to-day services are all included in maintenance costs.
If you own a condo, a certain fee is paid which is sufficient for all the major and minor costs, whereas in houses, the owner has all the responsibility and he is the single bearer for all of it.
The cost of necessities, renovations costs, location and convenience, life style, flexibility of ownership and a lot more are options to be considered in deciding to buy a condo versus a house.
In this case, consulting with a top real estate agent could be really helpful to assure you in your decision and to evaluate the availability of so many real estate developments in different parts of Toronto.
If you are a millennial or a first-time home buyer who has no experience with house maintenance, buying a condo would be a better option for you. But if you are going to grow a family and let your children play freely, buy your own house to be your full-private space. Therefore, try to consider your long-term goals before choosing the type of a dwelling to live in.