Two of the most popular real estate property options here in Toronto are condos and townhouses. For such a big investment that will last for the next 2 decades or so, you want to be sure you’re picking the right one. Our experts are here to clarify the differences between a townhouse vs condo to make sure you make the correct decision.
Townhouse vs Condo
Both a townhouse and a condo are what people are turning to nowadays instead of a detached single-family home. The first step to making a decision on a condo or townhouse is understanding what they are.
What is a Condo?
A condo is the easiest to maintain of the two options. All you are responsible for is your own unit and not any of the common areas. Since the HOA  is a strong presence in condos, they are also who you turn to when there are problems with communal areas.
However, that doesn’t mean that you spend less because the responsibility of public maintenance doesn’t fall onto you. HOA fees are required among some other condo fees. So for first time homebuyers, it’s important to keep these extra maintenance payments in mind when considering your monthly payments.
Speaking of common areas, condos also come with many amenities that can include a gym or pool depending on where you buy. You can enjoy the indoor and outdoor space that you share with your neighbors. Condominiums are also usually located in downtown Toronto and other urban areas that are bustling, so you are most likely going to be living in a prime location.
The next item our experts have on the list can part of the pros and cons, so we’ll mention it in both sections. If you like being surrounded by people, a condo may be the best choice for you as you will be in close vicinity around other condo owners.
Condos are generally also more affordable in terms of ownership. The maintenance fees such as those for lawn care and monthly maintenance of common areas are split among all the residents. This will take a greater load off of you individually.
A condo is a group of units in one building complex, which means the security is also higher than independent homes. You could have a doorman or concierge service depending on the building and security cameras installed in public spaces.
Like our experts mentioned, having many neighbors can be a good or bad thing. Having to share walls with your neighbors means even less privacy within your home. If you like privacy and not have your comings and goings be known by everyone, then condos might not be the best choice for you.
You have to pay HOA fees and other condo fees if you choose to invest in these units, which could lead to a higher overall cost. Not only that, you might not be able to alter your property and customize areas to your liking due to property management companies.
What is a Townhouse?
A townhouse is often seen in more rural areas in Canada and the UK. They look like an independent house but are all attached together in a row. When you purchase a townhouse, the property is yours. You can complete autonomy to customize the inside of the townhouse to fit your desires, which gives you more freedom than condos.
Similar to independent houses, townhouse owners may enjoy a higher property value as townhouses as the resale value is higher and they are more in demand. When you live in a townhouse, the maintenance payments might be lower depending on your property needs and there isn’t a set fee you must pay monthly.
Since there is no monthly fee, our experts caution that you are largely responsible for everything in your house unlike condos. If things go wrong or break, you have to be the one to call someone in.
Townhouses are also less secure. Much like detached single houses, townhouses are more prone to break-ins as the windows and doors are more easily accessible.
Differences Between a Townhouse and a Condo
In short, the difference between a condo and townhouse is the property type. The former is part of a building while the latter is an independent structure, although it still shares walls with the home next to it. Both these properties can be found in rural and urban areas but condos are more prevalent in high population density places like downtown.
What are some things to consider when looking at a condo vs townhouse? Read on to find out.
Factors to Consider
The ownership between a condo vs a townhouse is quite different. While you can own both, there is more freedom that comes with a townhouse. When you purchase a condo, you own your unit but share joint ownership of the common areas.
With a freehold townhouse, it’s similar to owning a detached single-family home. You own the entire property and have the autonomy to self-govern and alter the property as you see fit, as long as it doesn’t affect your neighbors.
As our team mentioned, a condo is more like apartment living, where you enter a building from the ground floor, go through a lobby, and into the elevator to reach your home. A townhouse is more like a single-family house where the front door is accessible from the street.
Since it’s more like a house, a condo can have 2, 3, or even 4 floors. A condo can also have more floors but it’s more uncommon. You can, however, live higher up in the building to enjoy a nicer view.
Next is the floor space. While it may not always be the case, owning a condo will give you less square footage. If you are looking for single-family homes, our team suggests looking into townhouses over condos as they are more like detached homes and have a yard and more space. If you are single or a couple without kids, then it makes more sense to buy a condo.
3. Cost and Value
Townhouses often cost more than a condo to purchase and to maintain. Sure, there are a lot of HOA fees and monthly fees that come attached to condo ownership, but much of the cost is shared by all the residents and the condo association takes care of everything.
The opposite is true for a townhouse and you will end up bearing all the costs whenever something goes wrong. Not only that, but the property taxes, insurance, and other costs need to be factored in as well.
As for property value, townhouses are worth more than condos, but the demand varies from city to city. Our team also advises you to keep in mind the price appreciation and depreciation. Condo prices rise at a more rapid pace than townhouses.
Where do you want to live? As mentioned, our experts say condos are more commonly seen in areas with higher traffic such as downtown, while townhouses can be found in more rural or residential areas.
Both types of real estate properties can feature shared amenities, but it’s more commonly seen with condos. It might be possible for a townhouse community to have shared areas, but it’s also less common. However, you will have your own yard and possibly a patio area to entertain your guests.
6. Home Owners Association
Another major difference between condos and townhouses is the HOA or Homeowners Association. When buying a condo, HOA fees are inevitable. If there is no HOA, there is at least a condo corporation that may take some fees. The corporation is a company that oversees the day-to-day maintenance issues while the HOA is made up of homeowners.
Not only is the HOA responsible for maintenance and the upkeep of the public areas, but they are also the ones who establish rules for the residences including what can or can’t be done in your unit, and rent regulations. That being said, there are still HOAs for townhouses but they are much more lenient.
The presence of the Homeowners’ Association is what separates these homes from detached homes.
There will be maintenance costs no matter where you live, the difference is how much. Living in a townhouse is usually more costly as you are responsible for all the maintenance payments. You will also need to take care of and oversee the process on your own, whereas a condo corporation or the HOA can help with that in condos.
The rules will vary from community to community and complex to complex. However, one thing is for sure, no one appreciates loud noises and irresponsible tenants.
9. Privacy and Security
The security for a townhouse vs condo is also different, but our experts feel the privacy aspect is similar. Whether you choose to live in a condo or townhouse, you will have less privacy compared to independent homes. Both a condo and townhouse will have shared walls and possibly shared communal spaces. Townhouses, like condos, will also place you in close vicinity to your neighbors.
The security aspect for your unit is where you may see more differences. In general, a condo is much safer, and safety is a huge aspect to consider when buying your next residence. Many people feel safer not to have their front door and windows easily accessible. However, this doesn’t mean you aren’t susceptible to a burglary in a condo, but they do have more advanced security in general.
Which is better a townhouse or a condo?
A townhouse is better for those looking for a higher resale value and a larger home. However, a townhouse may entail higher maintenance fees and lesser security. A condo is better for the money and less upkeep on your part, but keep in mind the monthly fees that may come with it and less autonomy for customization.
There is no clear winner for the condo vs townhouse debate as they each have their pros and cons. To sum up, our experts believe a townhouse is a better option for those who want a larger home, and more freedom to live as they please. However, with townhouses comes things like property taxes, insurance, and more money spent in general.
With a condo, you will have less leniency for customization and less space, but it’s a more hassle-free option where you are not responsible for upkeep.