A condominium is a multi-unit building, ranging from townhomes to high-rise apartment complexes. Each of the units is purchased, and owned by, individual tenants, in contrast to a regular apartment building, where the tenants pay regular installments of rent and do not own anything beyond the contents of their unit. Tenants share ownership of the common areas. Their mutual interest is typically represented by an elected management board.

A condominium is usually (but not always) more upscale than its apartment block cousin - with a 24 hour concierge, a swimming pool, squash courts, an exercise room, and so on.

Condominium owners have the joys of home ownership - market volatility, taxes, utility bills, repairs, and so on - mixed with the joys of living in a multi-tenant building - noise, abuse of shared resources, dangerous underground parking, pure density of humans. Not to mention monthly "condo fees" used to pay for common services and repairs.

On the other hand, condo owners are free from the bother of exterior maintenance and repair, don't have to shovel snow (where applicable) or mow the lawn, and can afford to live closer to prime real estate locations than ownership of a private home might allow.

An addendum to Lord Brawl's writeup: The biggest advantage to living in a condo, over renting/leasing an apartment is the fact that when you go to sell it, even if you haven't paid off the mortgage yet, you get back some of the money you pay into it. If you rent, you might as well kiss your money goodbye.

Also, you can change anything in the condo that you like. Don't like the dusty rose(tm) paint on the walls? Paint over it. They're your walls. (Well...if you have a mortgage they're technically the bank's walls, and any big renovations will have to be passed through them.)

When you rent or lease, you're just paying off someone else's mortgage. You're buying the apartment/condo/house for them.

Something to look into when you are thinking of buying a condo: find out how the contingency fund is doing. This is the fund that is partly made up of condo fees which would be used to make large foreseeable repairs such as a leaky roof. If the fund is not large enough, then the condo fees can go up dramatically. I've heard of condo fees as high as $500 a month in places that were found to have insufficient funds to do major repairs. We're not talking deluxe accommodations here either! (That's $500 on top of whatever you pay on your mortgage every month!)

As for concerns such as noise, usually the construction in a condominium is a little better than in an apartment, with a little better soundproofing. (If the place has concrete floors you'll be lucky if you even know you have neighbours.) Loud parties and smells of the burning of illegal herbs and spices might be less tolerated than in an apartment. There's less turnover so everyone knows everyone else, and the, shall we say, higher average age of your garden variety condo owner means that there's a good chance that your neighbours will be nosey old cranks who have nothing better to do than complain all the time. If you have a loud party, or cook too many smelly curries you WILL hear about it. If you go away for a week people will notice, and ask where you've been. There is an advantage to this as well, as strangers in the building will be noticed, increasing security.

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