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Old 08-23-2017, 10:50 PM
 
Location: Northeastern U.S.
1,467 posts, read 897,779 times
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I grew up in a very nice house in the suburbs with a half-acre lot, and loved it. Decades later, I'm in a one-bedroom condo in a large condo complex that is fairly well managed. Dogs and cats are allowed, with rules and restrictions. Sometimes I think wistfully of finding a nice small house with a decent yard that is either fenced or can be fenced - and then I think about taking out the garbage on cold winter nights, problems with gutters and roofs and aging furnaces and other problems.

If I have a problem, I can call the office and get a handyman up in a few days (sooner if it is an emergency, at least during the week). I have a secure place to pick up mail and packages. There is 24-hour security; if I forget to take my keys with me, I can always be let back into my apartment (there is a small fee). I don't have to worry about snow removal (my car's in the garage) or mowing or landscaping.

Not all condos have on-site staff and 24-hour security and a large garage, though. Our HoA has tens of thousands (maybe more, I must admit that I haven't checked recently) of dollars in reserve. They did raise the condo fees in 2016, after several years of not raising them; due to some overdue repairs being needed.

Also, though I occasionally hear footfalls above me (or the sound of a ball thudding on the floor), the floors are concrete or cement under the wood, and there is concrete in some parts of the walls, so the noise levels are pretty quiet.

I've seen all sorts of 'condos' advertised in real estate websites; many of them in older two or three-family houses that have been converted. There are also some new complexes being built and newer complexes than my own, or some in neighborhoods I find less desirable, or some that don't allow dogs.
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Old 08-24-2017, 12:14 AM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
18,130 posts, read 23,010,120 times
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Not sure if you were intending to buy or rent, but as a renter now, an upside is that if you don't like the place, you can always move.

I differ with runswithscissors on which floor is preferable - just depends on what you prefer - but I prefer to be on the top floor because I hate hearing people above me. Even small people can sound like elephants when they're moving around on your ceiling. My building has two elevators and is handicap access, so it's no problem getting upstairs.

I suggest finding one with a balcony or patio. Not having one was not fun for me for many years. Even my tiny balcony gives me somewhere to sit outside and grow some plants. My bougainvillea is blooming :-)

I personally really hate HOAs. They're an unknown future cost, let alone drama. I had a condo once and they immediately raised the dues after I bought, grrr. Plus, you can get wackos on the board who change the rules and start bugging you about what plants you can have on your porch, blah blah. If I'm going to own property, I want to have control over it. I always owned my properties, and after I bought that condo and dealt with crazy board members, I sold it a year later and swore off HOAs for the rest of my life. You'll always end up with control freak weirdos with personal agendas. Just ugh.

So for me, unless I bought a property I owned without an HOA, I'd rather rent.
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Old 08-24-2017, 07:48 AM
 
Location: Towson, MD
189 posts, read 107,009 times
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Good thread! Let me ask everyone, how is apartment/condo living when you have dogs? or excess noise? I appreciate the freedom of a condo/apt, as I previously owned a townhouse where mowing/landscaping/snow shoveling was included in HOA fee; but I am concerned about noise and pets if we ever look to downsize.
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Old 08-24-2017, 07:57 AM
 
1,074 posts, read 519,936 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoMoreSnowForMe View Post
Not sure if you were intending to buy or rent, but as a renter now, an upside is that if you don't like the place, you can always move.

I differ with runswithscissors on which floor is preferable - just depends on what you prefer - but I prefer to be on the top floor because I hate hearing people above me. Even small people can sound like elephants when they're moving around on your ceiling. My building has two elevators and is handicap access, so it's no problem getting upstairs.

I suggest finding one with a balcony or patio. Not having one was not fun for me for many years. Even my tiny balcony gives me somewhere to sit outside and grow some plants. My bougainvillea is blooming :-)

I personally really hate HOAs. They're an unknown future cost, let alone drama. I had a condo once and they immediately raised the dues after I bought, grrr. Plus, you can get wackos on the board who change the rules and start bugging you about what plants you can have on your porch, blah blah. If I'm going to own property, I want to have control over it. I always owned my properties, and after I bought that condo and dealt with crazy board members, I sold it a year later and swore off HOAs for the rest of my life. You'll always end up with control freak weirdos with personal agendas. Just ugh.

So for me, unless I bought a property I owned without an HOA, I'd rather rent.
This is kind of the why I feel too. But owning a home back in snow country is a lot more involved than owning here in SF Bay Area. A lot more maintenance with the snow, ice and freezing temps.
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Old 08-24-2017, 08:14 AM
 
2,132 posts, read 1,008,336 times
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I had to live in an apartment - actually in 4 different complexes over about a 10 year period - until fairly recently when I was able to move into my own single-family home again.

I HATED every second of it. I hate having people all around me. I hate having people stand around outside to smoke - non-smoking apartments just drive people to smoke outside your front door. I hated the noise, I hated the lack of assigned parking, I hated the constant comings and goings of neighbors and their friends and relatives on all sides. I hated not being able to plumb in a sink for my pottery. I hated the restrictions on pets. I hated not having a garden nor any access to a private space outdoors.

I would hate having to pay $500 a month for HOA fees, and I hate HOAs for both practical and ideological reasons. My house payment is only about $630 a month, in this expensive area. An additional fee for a HOA is just not warranted. Even if I paid a lawn service, it would not cost me $500 a month to get my lawn taken care of. I can do it myself with my wheeled weed-whacker. If I want access to a gym or pool, that's what the city parks & rec gyms/pools are for, for $30 a month.

In my home, I can set up a sink outside for washing garden veggies and for those times when I want to work at my pottery outside. I can plant whatever I want. I can sit on my patio and chill. I can feed the wild birds (bird feeders are commonly not allowed in apartment complexes/condos, especially when not on the ground floor).

I can sit in the privacy of my own home and vape my legal-in-this-state medical marijuana without fear of eviction, nor of accidentally tipping a neighbor off to my use because they can smell it coming out from under the front door. Thus increasing my risk of a break-in by teenagers looking for free weed.

I can have all the birds I want - as opposed to the 55+ community I BRIEFLY looked into where they allow only 2 animals, require a huge pet FEE (that you don't get back) and charge you extra rent for - even if it is 2 small birds such as finches who never come out of the cage. Seriously - they wanted to charge me an extra $100 a month for 2 finches, with a non-refundable pet fee of $500 per bird or $1000. Do you know how many finches I could buy for $1000? A whole lot more than 2, that's for sure! (I currently have 1 finch and 2 parakeets as one of my finches died recently - so its not like I'm talking a hundred birds or anything)

Thanks. I'll stick to my actual house with a private yard and patio until I die, hopefully.

Last edited by Pyewackette; 08-24-2017 at 08:28 AM..
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Old 08-24-2017, 08:50 AM
 
15,375 posts, read 4,058,877 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyewackette View Post
I had to live in an apartment - actually in 4 different complexes over about a 10 year period - until fairly recently when I was able to move into my own single-family home again.

In my home, I can set up a sink outside for washing garden veggies and for those times when I want to work at my pottery outside. I can plant whatever I want. I can sit on my patio and chill. I can feed the wild birds (bird feeders are commonly not allowed in apartment complexes/condos, especially when not on the ground floor).

I can sit in the privacy of my own home and vape my legal-in-this-state medical marijuana without fear of eviction, nor of accidentally tipping a neighbor off to my use because they can smell it coming out from under the front door. Thus increasing my risk of a break-in by teenagers looking for free weed.

I can have all the birds I want - as opposed to the 55+ community I BRIEFLY looked into where they allow only 2 animals, require a huge pet FEE (that you don't get back) and charge you extra rent for - even if it is 2 small birds such as finches who never come out of the cage. Seriously - they wanted to charge me an extra $100 a month for 2 finches, with a non-refundable pet fee of $500 per bird or $1000. Do you know how many finches I could buy for $1000? A whole lot more than 2, that's for sure! (I currently have 1 finch and 2 parakeets as one of my finches died recently - so its not like I'm talking a hundred birds or anything)

Thanks. I'll stick to my actual house with a private yard and patio until I die, hopefully.
No doubt lots of advantages.
We are retired and actually own 3 properties (chasing the sun, I guess). We bought one in Florida and it is non-HOA which is great. The monthly costs, even with house watchers and the climate, are lower than either our SF house or our luxury new england beach condo.

Even a small condo units like ours (12 units - at least 1/2 of them vacation units, so hardly ever occupied) ends up having more drama and being noisier than the single family places.

As someone else has noted - all you need is ONE person who is unreasonable to ruin things for the board and most of the residents. I'd say out of 12 owners we have 2 who fit this description, 1 who could chase out even the most tolerant of neighbors. Luckily, they are at the complete opposite end of the complex so we don't have to see them much.

If one does not have the attitude of "I'm in a commune and everyone has equal rights" then they should probably stay away from ANY HOA or Condo type of living.

Even house watching and snowplowing on our big SF house doesn't cost much compared to a luxury condo where you have to "step and fetch it" when things are wrong (the Board, of which I am currently serving on). A tennis court, pool, ongoing lawsuits and other matters can complete the picture.

If I do buy another condo or HOA type property it will be heavily researched and likely still a single (or at most one story duplex) type of property.

Luckily I am handy and still able to do a good percentage of the little things by myself. This may not be the case in 10 years, but for now it's OK.
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Old 08-24-2017, 09:09 AM
 
3,872 posts, read 5,939,216 times
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Some good advice on here. I've done both...recently sold a townhouse that had an HOA. It was nice having everything done but the stairs got to me. Mostly townhouses here are two stories. Many have been happy in a condo. One thing to remember is that the association schedules things. So you may think your bushes need cutting now. But the condo association has scheduled the trimming to occur in two weeks. So you don't have as much control over your place. Noise was not an issue where I lived but my mom's condo had a family of kids and wood floors on top of her and the noise was bad. Little feet running and it sounded like bowling balls dropping at times. Recently we built a new one story single family ranch house so now we are in a stand along home. We have hired people to cut the grass and do snow shoveling cheaper than the association fees. If I was an older single female living alone I'd definitely move to a condo because of greater ease and security.
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Old 08-24-2017, 09:37 AM
 
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
10,529 posts, read 8,775,701 times
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I departed a large single family house when I left the US. After the initial shock, I settled into apartment living (plus a small summer house). Besides, I makes finding my glasses, keys, etc. much easier to find.
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Old 08-24-2017, 09:38 AM
 
5,399 posts, read 6,544,082 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjf1958 View Post
Good thread! Let me ask everyone, how is apartment/condo living when you have dogs? or excess noise? I appreciate the freedom of a condo/apt, as I previously owned a townhouse where mowing/landscaping/snow shoveling was included in HOA fee; but I am concerned about noise and pets if we ever look to downsize.
Thanks all repped you who commented until my reps exceeded limit.

Renting or condo with a dog is something I hope to see how it goes with my first rental. I have a young adult 90 lb Weimaraner So an apartment will be a good test. That would also be a judge of how construction impacts noise.

I like the idea of community in a group housing situation, if nothing more than seeing people entering the apartment across the hall. Or a lobby or fitness center. To me living in an SFR in a subdivision is rather isolating unless you have raised your family there.

Top floor or bottom floor for mobility purposes is good to consider. An elevator levels that out. Thanks for the tip on the balcony

But your comments about condo future and emergency maintenance make renting seem preferable if I find the right place. So this gives me questions to ask while looking at condos. Maintenance at my SFR is killing me and I don't want to back into the same thing with group coordination required.

Maybe I am just worn out from the house repair and maintenance and after a time in an apartment I will want my own little place. Could just be emotion that time will cure.

Thanks again and I will keep checking to see if new ideas come up

As of right now my plan is to sell house in spring and rent an apartment around Oak Ridge TN while I test things out before deciding on apartment vs condo. And it all depends on the place I guess
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Old 08-24-2017, 10:03 AM
 
1,074 posts, read 519,936 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theoldnorthstate View Post
Thanks all repped you who commented until my reps exceeded limit.

Renting or condo with a dog is something I hope to see how it goes with my first rental. I have a young adult 90 lb Weimaraner So an apartment will be a good test. That would also be a judge of how construction impacts noise.

I like the idea of community in a group housing situation, if nothing more than seeing people entering the apartment across the hall. Or a lobby or fitness center. To me living in an SFR in a subdivision is rather isolating unless you have raised your family there.

Top floor or bottom floor for mobility purposes is good to consider. An elevator levels that out. Thanks for the tip on the balcony

But your comments about condo future and emergency maintenance make renting seem preferable if I find the right place. So this gives me questions to ask while looking at condos. Maintenance at my SFR is killing me and I don't want to back into the same thing with group coordination required.

Maybe I am just worn out from the house repair and maintenance and after a time in an apartment I will want my own little place. Could just be emotion that time will cure.

Thanks again and I will keep checking to see if new ideas come up

As of right now my plan is to sell house in spring and rent an apartment around Oak Ridge TN while I test things out before deciding on apartment vs condo. And it all depends on the place I guess
I have 2 90 lb German shepherds, and have found that only rundown places in less desirable areas will accept big dogs, both for renting and owning.

I get it, as I would never live in such close quarters with 2 dogs that are innately protective. They'd be alerting constantly.
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