If you’re thinking about moving to the Atlanta area, but don’t think that a single-family home is the best option for you, you’ll most likely face the choice between an apartment or condo. On the surface, an apartment can look like a condo, or a condo can look like an apartment. But the two aren’t the same thing. In this article, we will discuss Apartment or Condo: Which is right for you?.

The rules of a condo

Condo buildings can contain two or three units or hundreds of units. When you buy a condo, you’re usually buying a single unit in the building. Along with the unit, which might be a studio or have one or more bedrooms, you also get partial ownership of the common areas of the building and property.

Owning a condo often means dealing with a homeowner’s association (HOA), which, according to Investopedia, typically collects a monthly fee from each owner, on top of the mortgage and property taxes you pay. The fee is used to pay for maintaining the areas you own in common with the other residents of the building, such as the front lobby, hallways, elevators and exterior areas. Ideally, the HOA will have enough money in its coffers to cover the costs of any big repair projects that crop up, such as repainting the common areas or fixing elevators. If not, the HOA can assess the cost of the project and charge each owner an additional fee.

Is an apartment right for you?

The big difference between an apartment and a condo is ownership. People who live in apartments are typically renters, while people in condos own their residences. Usually, a single company or person owns an apartment building and rents out each unit. If you like a building but aren’t yet ready to buy, renting an apartment might be the better option for you. Living in an apartment is also an option if your goal is to buy a single-family home eventually, either in the heart of Atlanta or in a suburban area. Another option is to purchase an entire apartment building, live in one unit and rent the others out for income.

What about co-ops?

Co-operative apartment buildings are a bit like condos and a bit like regular apartments, notes the Washington Post. The building is owned by a co-op association, which is made up of all the people who live in the building. You might still have a lease in a co-op, even though you own a portion of the building. You can have a mortgage on the unit or share in a collective mortgage with the other shareholders. Like an HOA, the co-op association sets rules for the building and can decide who can or can’t live there.

Living in a co-op, apartment or condo can mean that other people have a considerable amount of say over what you can and can’t do with your home. Owning a condo often means the most freedom, although you’ll still have to answer to the HOA every now and then.

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