Are you an empty nester and beginning to think about the number of rooms you rarely use? Or maybe you’re spending more time traveling, and have little time left for regular maintenance and upkeep of your property. Maybe it’s time to consider moving into a smaller space.

Condominiums (condos) and Townhouses both offer the simplicity of lower maintenance and convenience, but which one makes more sense for your lifestyle? Both have advantages and disadvantages. Here are some insights that will help you understand the differences between the two so you can make the best decision when it’s time to downsize.

Condo or Townhome? What’s the Difference?

The most important distinction between a condo and a townhome is a condo is based on a type of ownership, while a townhome refers to a style of construction.

A condo is a building or community of buildings in which units are owned by individuals, rather than a landlord. Condo owners only own the interior of their unit, but not the land surrounding their living space. The building exterior, lawn, and communal areas are the property of the homeowners association (HOA).

A townhouse is made up of conjoined units that are owned by individual tenants, similar to house ownership. The owner maintains both the structure and the land on which it sits. Townhome owners are responsible for their own interior, and all exterior parts, including the roof, lawn, and driveway, but not the communal areas. Townhouse owners pay lower monthly HOA fees because the owners are responsible for their own upkeep. The HOA may handle trash removal and other maintenance.

The distinction between who owns what is essential when it comes to insuring your property and planning for maintenance and repairs. Insurance rates are usually lower for condos because owners ensure only the interior of their unit. Townhouses may have higher home insurance rates since most owners need insurance that covers both the exterior and interior.

Lifestyle Differences Between Condos and Townhomes

Condos come in many varieties and styles. They may be part of a cul-de-sac, a high-rise, smaller homes or apartment-style units. Condos often have a community focus with a clubhouse, pool, golf course and/or similar amenities.

Townhomes are designed in rows, and it’s common for them to have two or more stories. Townhouse owners share a common wall with the unit next door, but rarely have tenants above or below. Townhouse properties sometimes offer the same types of amenities as condos, but others are more private.

Which Unit is Best for You?

If affordability is important to you, you may want to consider the high HOA condo fees. Townhomes have much lower costs, but the owners will be expected to handle more of the maintenance of the property. However, townhouses may have a higher asking price, along with higher insurance cost.


Leaving a single-family home, in favor of a condo or a townhome means you will be giving up a level of solitude. At the same time, access to tennis courts, a pool or a clubhouse could offset any lingering doubts about having neighbors so close.

Less maintenance and a small property to maintain may still have its advantages. Take a look at past issues of the condo or townhome’s community newsletter or social network page if one exists. The posts and entries can provide valuable insight into what life is like there so you can determine if it’s the right place for you.

Read the Fine Print

Before you make any decision to invest, review the financials from the condo or townhome association to ensure it is financially viable. It’s also a good idea to read through the HOA rules and regulations.

Whether you choose a condo or a townhouse, talk to a Cole Harrison agent to learn about your insurance options.

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