Condo vs. Apartment Guide

By PropertyClub Team
Jun 25th 2022
In large cities where single-family homes are scarce, residents typically have two choices, either rent an apartment or buy a condo. While there are other options available, most residents will live in one of these property types. No structural difference separates condos from apartments, but there is a difference in the ownership structure that separates them. Here is a quick guide to condos vs. apartments.  

hash-markWhat is a Condo?

A condo is a privately-owned unit in a larger condominium building that contains separate units owned by other residents. Condo owners have ownership rights over the unit they live in like you would in a single-family home. But your ownership is confined to your individual unit, and you share common areas and amenities in the building with other residents.

hash-markWhat is an Apartment?

An apartment is a residence that is rented from the owner. Apartments are usually contained within a larger building along with other units, but they can also be singular. An apartment resident (also known as a tenant), pays rent to the building owner (or the landlord). They do not have any ownership rights to the unit but instead sign a lease agreement with the landlord granting them temporary occupancy rights for the duration of the contract.

hash-markWhat's the Difference Between a Condo and an Apartment?

The main difference between condos and apartments is that with a condo, you own your unit, while those who live in apartments are renters. That means condos are more expensive but also allow the owner to accrue equity and offer other financial benefits. Tenants who live in an apartment pay monthly rent to their landlord, while condo owners make mortgage payments to their lender (unless they paid cash). Structurally, an apartment and condo could look exactly the same. The difference is whether the owner or developer decides to maintain ownership and rent the units to tenants or convert them to condos.

hash-markCondo Pros and Cons

Condo Pros 

More Control

Condo owners have more control over their unit than tenants because they own it. So, if they want to paint the walls or replace the light fixtures, they can do so (unless the HOA has strict rules). Tenants can send a request, but ultimately, it's up to the landlord whether they allow alterations.

Build Equity

When you finance a condo, you pay a mortgage, allowing you to build your home equity. Owning your home not only gives you more stability it also gives you the ability to borrow against that equity to take out a loan or finance another purchase, which can be useful in many scenarios.


Condo buildings often come with amenities that residents share in the building, such as a pool, gym, golf course, lounge, and other attractive features. Some luxury apartments have these features, but it's typical for most condo buildings to offer standard amenities.

Condo Cons

More Responsibility

Homeownership comes with many benefits, but it comes with more responsibilities as well. You'll have to take care of the maintenance and pay the taxes and insurance on the unit. When you rent, it's the landlord's responsibility to take care of these tasks, so all you have to worry about is paying your rent on time.

More Expensive

Condos are also typically more expensive than renting an apartment. Not only do you have to pay a mortgage, you are also on the hook for maintenance fees to pay for the upkeep of the building. You'll also have to pay property taxes and homeowners insurance, which can add up quickly.

Homeowners Association

When you own a condo, you'll have to deal with the homeowner's association. They’re the organization that makes and enforces the rules of the building. Some HOA's are laid back, while others are strict and intrusive. So, depending on the circumstances, they may be helpful or make your life more difficult, which tenants don't have to deal with.  

hash-markApartment Pros and Cons

Apartment Pros

Less Commitment

The biggest benefit of renting an apartment is that they require far less commitment. Lease terms are typically only for a year but can even be monthly if you want more flexibility. So, if you up and decide to move somewhere else at the end of the term, you can do so. Whereas with a condo, you're stuck with it until you decide to sell.  

Lower Monthly Payments

Rent payments are usually much cheaper than a mortgage, condo fees, taxes, and insurance. This isn't always the case as luxury apartments can get quite expensive, even compared to a modestly priced condo. But, in a comparable unit, the monthly payment for an apartment will be much lower than what you'd pay for a condo.

Easier to Qualify

Most apartments require a credit and income check to ensure you can afford the unit, but it's not as extensive as getting a mortgage. To buy a condo, you'll need to make a down payment and go through an underwriting process to be approved. So, apartments are better for younger people and those without much credit or financial history.

Apartment Cons

Less Stability

Apartments offer less stability than condos because you don't own the unit and you only have a right to occupy the apartment for as long as the length of the contract. So, if the landlord decides to sell the building at the end of the lease, they have a right to ask you to leave or make other arrangements for the unit.

More Barebones

Apartments typically don't offer all the bells and whistles of a condo. While some luxury apartment complexes offer amenities, these are typically more expensive. Most apartments only offer access to the unit itself, whereas traditional condos provide access to common areas and amenities.

No Say Over the Building

Tenants also have less control over what goes on in the rest of the building. Condo owners have a homeowner's association to complain to if the neighbors are noisy or if there is some other nuisance in the building. Tenants can complain to the landlord, but because they don't pay maintenance fees as condo owners do, the landlord is less likely to get involved unless it's serious. 

hash-markCondo vs Apartment Comparison

Unit Type




Resident owns their own unit

A landlord owns the unit and rents it to the resident

Recurring Fees

HOA/ Maintenance Fees, Mortgage, etc.



Often feature swimming pools, lounges, fitness centers, etc.

Specific to each building, usually only in luxury properties


Must maintain your unit but not the rest of the building

Maintenance is the landlord’s responsibility


Rules imposed by the HOA

Rules imposed by the landlord

Most Suitable For

Financially established adults who want to downsize or live in a city

Young adults and those who want flexibility or the ability to save for a mortgage

hash-markCondo vs Apartment Bottom Line

Condos and apartments are two of the most common housing types you will come across when looking for a place to live in a major city. They both offer unique benefits and disadvantages, which you should weigh carefully if you’re thinking about moving. Apartments offer flexibility and cost savings while condos offer more stability and financial benefits. Which you ultimately choose depends on what you’re looking for and where you’re at in your life.