Thinking about buying some real estate here in Toronto? Two of the most popular options are condos and townhouses. Deciding whether you’d best suit a condo or townhouse is a big decision to make.
Of course, price, location and lifestyle play a part in your decision.
According to a survey by Royal LePage, 18% of newcomers in Canada buy a condominium, and 15% opt for a townhouse. While the results appear closely related, the actual property types couldn’t be more different from each other.
Whether you live in a busy city like Toronto or further afield, one option may be more suitable than the other for your new home.
If you are looking to buy or rent a condo or townhouse in Toronto, here’s everything you need to know to help you decide.
Popular Housing Choices
Across Canada, condos and townhouses are the two main property choices that people opt for when buying homes. Both have different benefits and provide unique facilities to the homeowners. The decision of which is best for you will mainly depend on the type of lifestyle that you lead.
That said, while previously it depended solely on whether a family or an individual is buying the house – things have changed. For example, it used to be the case that condos didn’t have many amenities. Nor did they have much open space like a townhouse. However, both options are much more accessible than ever before as homes for people of all lifestyles.
Let’s break down each property option in further detail, starting with condos.
What Is a Condo?
Condos are residential units that are owned by individuals instead of landlords. Condo units are in buildings or owned as part of a community.
Condo owners only have access to the interiors of the property. The communal area, parks, amenities, etc. are usually owned by the Homeowners Association (HOA). As a result, condo owners are subject to HOA fees.
If you’re leaning more towards buying a condo, you’re not alone. The condo market in Toronto has seen a drastic rise as of late due to immigration and the booming jobs market. Learn more about their pros and cons here:
Here are a few benefits of buying a condominium:
- Maintenance – The maintenance required for a condominium is very minimal. Residents will only have to look after their houses and not the open spaces. The corporation or HOA owns most of the condos as well as the communal and other spaces within the building. However, any condo fees will cover all maintenance work that might be required. (1) Overall, the money spent on maintenance fees is cheaper in a condo.
- Benefits of neighbours – Another added benefit of staying in a condominium is that residents will live around lots of people. Living in a condo is great for building social circles. Plus during emergencies, having good neighbours can be really beneficial.
- The location – Most of the condos in Toronto are in bustling neighbourhoods. Homes in popular areas tend to have better public transportation, making your condo location convenient for reducing your commute from your home to work.
- Amenities – The number of amenities that a resident gets while staying in a condo is unrivalled. Facilities include gyms, party rooms, rooftop BBQ areas, open and green terraces, meeting rooms and yoga rooms.
- Cost – The cost of staying in condos is cheaper compared to other real estate properties. Usually, fees for maintenance are divided between all the residents and the owners. Therefore, the cost of living in a condo is more affordable for most people.
- Safety – Condos have higher security for residents, as units are close together. Also, residents can pay for additional security services and gadgets.
Living in a condominium is not all about benefits. There are cons and other things to consider too:
- Higher fixed costs – Residents staying in condos have to pay monthly fees for all the standard space amenities. This might be an issue for most residents since not everyone uses these spaces or amenities.
- Less autonomy – Condos in Toronto are subjected to the bylaws stated by the condo corporation. Due to this, residents might not be able to make changes to their homes. They might not even be allowed to decorate their home during holidays.
- Not easy to customize – In a townhouse, it’s fairly straightforward to extend your property or even knock through some walls. In a condo… not so! If your family grows you can’t just build another room onto your condo. Plus, your neighbours won’t appreciate the noise and inconvenience of any work you do carry out.
What Is a Townhouse?
A townhouse is a housing style where there are multiple independent and identical houses that are usually in a row. (2) Townhouse owners own the land as well as every interior inside the townhouse. Townhouses are a perfect single-family home.
Homes that have a townhouse style usually come with a front and rear yard, giving plenty of private outdoor space.
Some families prefer to stay in townhouses due to the independent nature and freedom they create as detached homes. Though, as they are conjoined with another property they will share walls and outdoor boundaries. It isn’t as ideal when the goal is total and utter privacy for families.
The work required to maintain townhouses can incur sharp fees, especially if it’s an old property in need of modernizing. If you’ve owned a townhouse before, you’ll be all too familiar with the amount of work involved in the upkeep.
Learn more about the pros and cons here:
Here are some of the benefits of buying townhouses:
- More autonomy – Residents have the freedom to make changes to their townhouses without any issue. As they are detached homes, they can alter the interiors as well as exteriors. This is one of the main reasons why homeowners prefer townhouses. They can decorate and personalize their townhouses as per their liking.
- Higher value – Townhouses have higher resale values due to demand. Townhouses offer residents freedom and independence. People are willing to pay a higher price for this, especially when the residence is located at a prime spot.
- Selective maintenance charges – Residents staying at townhouses pay maintenance charges depending on their requirements.
Like condos, townhouses also have their cons that some residents cannot compromise on. Here are the things to look out for if you prefer a townhouse:
- Responsibility – Residents have higher responsibilities when living in townhouses. They do not have the luxury to call the maintenance for any sort of repair work that might be needed for the property. So, townhouse owners will have to carry out all the repairs and maintenance that’s required themselves. This includes everything from plumbing issues to lawn care. All the fees are on the owner, not the entire building.
- Security – Townhouses – with their windows and doors leading onto the street – are not as secure. Since these are individual properties, residents don’t have security services like those available in condos. Buying your own security systems to protect your home can be expensive.
- Higher expenses – Not only will people have to pay a higher amount to get a townhouse, but people will also have to pay more for the services as well. Townhouse expenses are greater than condos overall, due to being a single-family home.
Watch this video to learn more about the difference between condos and townhouses:
Townhouse Vs Condo: The Bottom Line
Now we’ve weighed up the pros and cons of both homes, it’s time to sum things up. Starting with townhouses, that provide a sense of freedom and individual space. They have separate entrances and parking spaces. Even the outdoor space will be separate for townhouses, making it a private home suitable for family life.
Townhouse owners do, however, have a lot of responsibility when it comes to the maintenance and upkeep of their home. Detached homes, in general, are not as secure, as they have windows and doors based on a ground level with easy access. In the townhouse vs condo debate, this is one round townhouse can’t win.
When it comes to condos, they are an excellent option for those who prefer the busy city lifestyle. Condos also provide homeowners with better security. The close proximity to the city is a big attraction of a condominium too, especially if you commute to work. Finding a condo within a short walk of work is ideal!
Plus, the rate of condos is rapidly increasing in Toronto. This mainly due to the demand and lifestyle benefits that a condo provides. However, at the end of the day, it is all about your requirements. If you are looking for a place where your kids can have their own space and enjoy in the backyard too, townhouses are perfect.
Ultimately, if you are looking for a home that is safe and secure for your family, and provides multiple benefits, condos make a great choice for your new home.
For news, updates, and exclusive access on all new and upcoming condo listings in Canada, visit Precondo.
1. Donna Fuscaldo, Monthly Maintenance Fees on Real Estate, retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/091515/real-estate-investing-monthly-maintenance-fees.asp
2. Dave Ramsey, What Is a Townhouse?, retrieved from https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/what-is-a-townhouse