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What You Need to Know About Downsizing to a Condo

There are quite a few reasons to consider downsizing your home. Whether you’re interested in a 55+ living community, looking to travel the world, or have just sent your last child off to college, now’s the perfect time to explore the pros and cons of buying a condo and downsizing!

Advantages of Downsizing to Condo Living

Living in a condo has plenty of advantages for anyone looking to downsize! From affordability to community, owning a condo is a great choice for those looking to still own property without all the hassle.

Accessibility

While single-family homes are not required to abide by the Fair Housing Act’s design and construction requirements, condo buildings are! Accessible routes for wheelchairs or those who have difficulty walking are required for common areas and individual dwellings. These fair housing laws require condos to be accessible for almost all individuals, making them great options for downsized housing, especially for retirees.

Security

Security concerns or a lack of safety measures could be one of the reasons you’re considering downsizing to a condo. Most condo associations are allowed to install security cameras in community-wide common areas to help keep residents and their belongings safe. Additionally, many buildings will have key fob or door code requirements for building access!

Affordability

When it comes to the differences of a condo vs. townhouse or condo vs. house, price is one of the biggest distinctions. Condos tend to be more affordable than either a townhouse or house because they don’t usually include land. While condo owners may pay fees to their Homeowners Association (HOA), property prices for other dwellings tend to be higher. Additionally, larger homes or townhouses cost more to heat and cool, making utility bills substantially higher.

Community

Most condo buildings or associations are mini communities with communal activities or events that condo owners are encouraged to be a part of. Empty nesters who feel lonely without their kids may find that downsizing from a house to a condo can be great for socialization and personal connections. Not to mention, having access to condo association events allows residents to meet new people.

Less Maintenance

If one of your reasons for downsizing is the amount of yard work, housework, or repairs owning a home comes with, it may be time to consider moving to a place with less upkeep. Condo associations are often responsible for mowing the grass, shoveling snow, and any outside home repairs that are needed. Also, required monthly condo fees often cover these services so you won’t have to pinch pennies to pay for repairs.

On-Site Amenities

If you’re looking for luxury amenities but still want to own your own property after downsizing, buying a condo may be perfect for you! With condo living, you can take advantage of amenities like pool access, community events, fitness centers, basketball courts, and more.

Proximity

While not all condos are located in a downtown hub or at the heart of the city, it’s always an option for those who want to live where the action is. Decluttering and downsizing can have its perks when you move to an area closer to entertainment, shopping, and dining spots. And being closer to city amenities may mean you have better walkability and access to public transit!

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Disadvantages of Downsizing to Condo Living

While there are many advantages to buying a condo, owning a condo also comes with some disadvantages. Remember to consider all the possibilities before choosing to downsize to a condo.

Condo Fees

Before you put your house on the market to save money, make sure you’ve calculated whether buying a condo is a good investment. After all, being part of a community means you’re also paying for that community. Keeping the pool running, the lawns manicured, and the fitness center updated isn’t free. Condo fees—sometimes referred to interchangeably as HOA fees—should be factored into your monthly budget.

Decluttering

When downsizing to a condo, you’ll most likely have to declutter your home and downsize your possessions as well. If you’ve accumulated years of belongings with sentimental value, deciding what to give away may be the most difficult part of downsizing, as things we own can sometimes become part of our identity and memories.

Less Living Space

Having a smaller space is part of downsizing your home, which can be a difficult transition. But it’s important to consider what this really means for your lifestyle and if condo benefits are worth it. In a condo, you may not have room for hosting your family holidays, or you or your spouse may need to give up their home office.

Harder with Pets

Owning a condo means you’ll have to abide by a condo association’s pet policy and potentially pay additional fees. While some condos allow pets on the premises, make sure to ask about the pet policy before purchasing a condo, as not all buildings will allow dogs, cats, and other small animals. Also, keep in mind that condo living with dogs can be especially tricky based on their size, activity needs, and outdoors needs.

Limited Outdoor Space

Saying goodbye to a yard that’s too big might be the biggest reason you’re excited to downsize. But if you’re an avid gardener or someone who enjoys keeping your own grass green, taking a step back from lawn care might be an unexpected challenge. Additionally, your condo’s green space may be a communal area, so sharing green space with neighbors is likely.

Reduced Privacy

If you’re downsizing from a single-family home, you’ve probably forgotten what it’s like to hear your neighbors. Switching back to shared walls and communal spaces can take some getting used to. When considering buying a condo while downsizing, recognize you may lose some privacy or hear more noise. If privacy is the most important factor in a living situation, the disadvantages of a condo might outweigh the benefits.


Who Can Benefit from Downsizing to a Condo?

Large High Rise Condominium Building. Photo by Instagram user @gtamlslistings

Photo via @gtamlslistings

If your suburban house has started to feel too large, you’re looking for a living space with a view, or you want a living experience with less maintenance, buying a condo could be a good option for you.

Retirees

When you imagine people trading in sprawling lawns in the suburbs for more maintainable properties, it’s likely seniors that first come to mind. Retirement condos are very popular for those choosing to downsize in retirement for reasons like:

  • Tight-knit community: If friendship and a sense of belonging is what you’re searching for, downsizing to a shared living community can help you meet new people and foster a sense of connection.
  • Organized activities: While a condo may offer less personal space than one’s former home, there are often shared facilities for community activities like playing cards, watching movies, or strolling through manicured lawns that require no upkeep from tenants.
  • Transportation provided: Many senior living condos offer shuttle services so you won’t have to worry about traffic or commuting.
  • Prepared meal options: Tired of cooking? Some condos offer dining services as part of condo fees, allowing you to skip the grocery line and enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner in your building.
  • Independence with support: Get help with the things you no longer enjoy doing, such as yard work and household maintenance, while still enjoying the benefits of homeownership and the independence of setting your own schedule while having a private space.

City Lovers

Young professionals and older adults alike are trading in extra square footage in the suburbs for condos at the center of city life. If you’re willing to embrace less space to be in the heart of the city, you’ll enjoy:

  • Walkability: Downtown dwellers get to enjoy all the city has to offer without the stressful commute or spending a fortune on fuel. Many downtown condos are in pedestrian-friendly cities, too, so city lovers won’t need a vehicle to explore their own backyards.
  • Proximity to entertainment: Downsizing to a condo in the city means you can trade in excess belongings for endless entertainment opportunities. Condo owners in the city may have less living space, but happenings outside the front door can’t be beat.
  • Luxurious amenities: Pools, state-of-the-art fitness centers, and theater rooms are standard in many condos in the city. Higher HOA fees may come with more amenities, but luxury living can be worth it.
  • Affordability: Compared to the associated costs of maintaining a house in the suburbs, condos are becoming an increasingly budget-friendly option for those looking enjoy homeownership.

Empty Nesters

If you have more empty bedrooms than children living at home, you might consider downsizing from a house to a condo. Investing in a condo may not fight off empty nest syndrome, but there are other benefits to downsizing, such as:

  • Less outside maintenance: Say goodbye to shoveling snow and mowing the lawn! Condo associations are tasked with lawn and building upkeep so you don’t have to worry about snow or grass.
  • Save money: Depending on your mortgage, moving to a condo could help you save funds. Even if your home is already paid off, selling your home and cutting down on utility bills might be a smart financial move to help you prepare for retirement.
  • Less time in the car: Trade in long commutes for quicker access to work and activities. You don’t have to live in a downtown condo for this to be true. Many condo communities are located near public transportation or within walking distance of popular areas.
  • Make new friends: Now that you have your weekends free from basketball tournaments and school plays, you can make friends in your built-in community. Visit your condo’s community center for activities like pickleball tournaments, dominoes, dining with other condo owners, and more.

World Travelers

The tiny home phenomena has shown that many people are happy to trade in expensive mortgages and extra bedrooms for more freedom. If you’re not sold on a tiny home but are full of wanderlust, condo living could offer the best of both worlds. Consider these benefits:

  • Have a home base: Condo owners can create space to come home without worrying about outside home maintenance. Even if your space is smaller, individual touches can make it inviting after days or weeks of travel.
  • Added security: Controlled access is standard in most condominium communities, so you can rest easy knowing your belongings are secure while you’re away.
  • Affordability: Owning a house is becoming more expensive, but condo ownership can keep more cash in your pocket while still building assets and credit. Plus, real estate appreciation is on the rise, meaning your condo can grow in value, even while you’re away traveling the world.
  • Supportive community: Need someone to water your plants when you’re jetsetting? Gain a built-in network of helpful neighbors who can keep an eye on things while you’re away. And come back to community friends who are eager to hear your travel stories!

Frequently Asked Questions About Condo Living

Is living in a condo cheaper than a house?

In general, living in a condo can be less expensive than living in a house. This is because of the reduced square footage, cheaper utility costs, and maintenance coverage with HOA fees. That said, always research the local real estate market before buying a condo, as condo living in certain cities can be more expensive.

What’s the difference between a condo and an apartment?

The difference between a condo and an apartment is ownership. A condo is a residence that’s owned by its occupants, while an apartment is a residence that’s rented from a landlord or property management company.

Is a condo a good investment?

Buying a condo can be a good investment. Condo properties can be less expensive than a single-family home and are often easier to maintain. Additionally, the average value of condominiums continues to increase providing a great possible future return on investment.

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Thinking about downsizing to a condo? Extra Space Storage has storage facilities nationwide that can help make your transition easier. Find self storage near you!

Mature couple in condo kitchen
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