Townhomes vs. condos: Do you know the difference? What about a condo townhome? When the terms are combined, things can get confusing. Buyers are pummelled with buzzy-sounding variants for homes, but you need to know what you’re buying and the potential conditions that come with these specific types of dwellings. 

This article has everything you need to know about townhomes vs. condos. 

Condo vs. townhomes - a view down the street of a row of townhomes
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What is a townhouse? 

People who haven’t bought a house before might want to know what defines a townhouse. A narrow, multi-story home connected to others on the same street is not always a dead giveaway. This is because some areas have condominium communities with two- and three-story attached houses. 

Ownership is specific to townhomes, which differentiates them from condominiums of any type. Most people who own townhouses also own the land on which the house is built. This includes the front and back yards, no matter how small. They also own the outside of their home. 

Also, most neighborhoods with townhouses have homeowner associations (HOAs). The owners pay monthly dues for trash pickup, snow removal, insurance, and upkeep of the community’s shared areas.  

Some HOAs have rules about the community’s appearance, such as the colors used for outdoor paint and the types of fences on the property. These regulations are to maintain the uniformity of the community. 

Townhome owners must pay for repairs and upkeep on the outside of their houses. This type of home is an excellent option for first-time homebuyers, small families, and those looking to downsize from more oversized lots who want to reduce the amount of upkeep required for a larger home. 

In Canada, townhomes fall into two categories: Freehold and condo. A freehold townhome gives the owner exclusivity to everything — the land the house sits upon, as well as its exterior and interior. Owners aren’t beholden to a homeowners’ association, so if you want complete control (and the ability to change the color of your home and fencing), freehold is the way to go. 

A condo townhome lets owners control everything inside the house, while a condominium corporation maintains the outside. This can include common areas on the property, parking spaces, and the yard. 

Like HOAs, you will be paying a monthly fee for the services provided by the condominium corporation. But there may also be amenities for your personal use, like outdoor pools, sports courts, playgrounds, and green areas. 

A view of modern townhomes - townhomes vs. condos
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What’s a condo? 

A condominium is any home where you own everything inside of the residential walls of a dwelling. Many condos are apartments, but you can find condos in different styles of larger residential complexes, including townhomes.  

Townhouse vs. condo — which is right for you? 

Here are some things to consider when looking at townhomes vs. condos: 

Price: Condos are usually cheaper because the owner only possesses the inside of the unit. Condo owners also tend to spend less on property taxes and insurance because their units are smaller, and don’t have to pay taxes or insurance on the rest of the building or complex. 

Even though townhomes are usually more expensive, the HOA costs are often less than condo fees. This is because people living in townhouses care for their own homes; therefore, everyone has fewer costs. 

On the other hand, condo owners must chip in to pay for any fixes or upgrades needed to keep the whole property in optimal shape or improve the amenities. But some of these funds can go towards additional amenities for the residents. 

What kind of community and amenities do you want? Townhome owners have a sense of community due to the structure of the houses. Condos are more like apartments than single-family homes, so their owners live differently than townhome owners. 

Condos are usually smaller and don’t have private outdoor space beyond a balcony, but they are very convenient, especially for city dwellers.  

Condos vs. townhomes - an outdoor seating area with a fireplace next to a condo
Adobe Stock

Condos have much to offer, such as doormen and security, exercise centers, swimming pools, event spaces, playrooms, and rooftop decks on high-rise buildings. In addition, some condo buildings have luxurious amenities, such as car services and concierge available around the clock. 

Townhouse owners will find that life isn’t much different from living in a single-family home. For example, yards allow children to play outside near the home, and there are people to talk to next door. However, privacy is still available, and there’s more of it compared to a condo.  

Some similarities and lots of differences 

Consider your needs and wants when thinking about townhomes vs. condos. Are you looking for a less expensive home with more amenities but willing to sacrifice some privacy and control? A condo may be best for you.  

However, if you want more space and freedom and are willing to do some work to take care of your home, you may be happiest in a townhome.  

Ask questions and consider the wealth of options. Then, with a bit of work, you’ll find the condo or townhome that’s right for you.  

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