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More and more Canadians in expensive markets like Toronto and Vancouver are opting out of traditional homeownership and choosing instead to purchase condominiums in order to buy and still live in the city. There are many advantages to condo life, particularly for the busy young professional who has less time for property maintenance. Here’s what you should know before you take the plunge.

How does the management work?
Although you’ll own your own individual unit, it’s important to remember that the condo itself is a community space. As such, decisions are made alongside other residents—and some condos are entirely self-managed. This means that there is no condo management team in place. In self-managed condos, monthly fees tend to be considerably lower. Consider the pros and cons of a self-managed versus professionally managed arrangement.

Is there storage space?
In some condos, residents are provided with personal storage space. If you’re a biker, a frequent traveller with lots of luggage or simply want some extra space to store your off-season wardrobe, you’ll definitely want to ensure your condo has a personal storage area.

What amenities are available?
One of the advantages to condo living, as opposed to homeownership in a traditional neighbourhood, is the wealth of amenities available to residents’ right at their doorstep. Rather than commuting across the city to go to the gym, you’ll now be able to get your workout in right at home. Other common amenities include swimming pools, rooftop patios and recreation rooms.

What are the monthly condo fees?
When calculating monthly association (condo) fees, things can start to get complicated. Not only is the size of the condo taken into consideration, but also the cost of maintenance over the long- and short-term. As previously mentioned, if your condo is professionally managed, you’ll pay more monthly. Other fees are intended for litigation and major repairs should they be necessary. Be wary of hidden costs. Look closely at the breakdown of the monthly dues and decide whether it’s reasonable.

What is the predicted appreciation?
Single-family homes still appreciate faster than condos, but the real estate market is notoriously unpredictable. If you aren’t absolutely certain you want to live in this community for the next five years, you’re better off continuing your search for the right fit.

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