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Old 10-11-2007, 05:23 AM
44 posts, read 326,519 times
Reputation: 24


I’m sure the answer to this question would probably be the same at any part of the United States, but I am specifically inquiring about Southbury, Connecticut and surrounding areas. My Wife and I are currently living in Florida, soon to move back (once we sell this house here), to Connecticut where we were born and raised and our friends and family are still there. I have to tell you about three years ago we lived and owned (for one year) a house with a great yard (conservation area in rear as far as the eye could see) in an Active Adult (over 55) Community in Leesburg, Florida. It was a great place, no kids, quiet, lots of activities, although we BOTH have to work full time and were not home for the activities, not like the majority of retired folk there. The real problem was that it was over a 1 ½ HOUR drive each way for my Wife to work (a very good job) in Tampa, forcing us to sell and move closer to her job, so we KNOW the “peacefulness” of an “Active Adult” Community, only it was a HOUSE and not a condo and actually had a gigantic 2 ½ car garage which enabled me to have a great workshop as well as comfortably parking our two vehicles and a big riding lawn mower, etc.

We were planning on buying a house in Connecticut, perhaps Southbury, Oxford, Southington, etc. and as we are over 55 years old, but both still working as I stated before (and will be for the next 10 plus years) we will have a mortgage, but with the house we plan to purchase will come ½ - 1 acre of “freedom” with (hopefully) trees to buffer the side (and rear if not woods) neighbors, which will be far enough away anyway, not like “zero lot line” (7 feet between house-to-house) here in Florida which is oh so common. We will have a two car garage and I can change oil or rotate tires on the vehicles in my driveway or garage or wash the vehicles ANY time I darn well please.

My Wife is “Hell-bent” on a Condo (Heritage Village) in Southbury with ONE car garage. We can’t afford the ones with two car garages. I actually called up Heritage Village yesterday and asked if we have a little driveway to park the second vehicle and they told me NO, you will have to find (if lucky she quoted) an open space in the visitor’s parking area for that 2nd vehicle, and it might be a good distance away. Man what a turn off for ME, and I didn’t even go any further asking about changing oil or tires on the vehicle in my garage.

I’ve dated (during my divorce) a girl that lived in a Condo (Casagmo?) in Ridgefield and it was a “horror show” with rules and regulations like a Gestapo Camp, PLUS the common fees which all she got was grass cutting, and the quality of workmanship of her tiny place was terrible and sloppy !! The place SHE had, to me, was a glorified apartment that she was foolish enough to purchase. Back in 1995 I think she spent well over $150K for it……. WOW !!

NOT to get between my Wife and myself in an argument, but to present the plain FACTS about CONDO vs. HOUSE, please answer and make comments to support either side, either home !!

Any and ALL comments are welcome, THANKS !!
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Old 10-11-2007, 06:15 AM
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It really depends on the condo association on the rules and what they allow and what comes included in the fees. A house you can do whichever you please, but you will have all the exterior maintenence to do yourself and pay out of pocket. There are a lot of 55+ communitities in Southbury, Oxford and Southington. Some attached town houses, others free standing...but they are pretty pricey even for their size compared to a house. My aunt lives in Spring Lake Village in Southington. It is a nice woodsy area all 55+ with a range of styles of the condos, but some can be too darn pricey! She mentions how people always watch one another and find things to complain about in the news letters...but I guess this is to be expected when a large portion don't work and don't stay active during the day, plus it is a very large development. She was wanting to move to Applegate Estates, which is under construction in Southington not far from Spring Lake, But found out they would be starting at $400,000 for an entry level condo.
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Old 10-11-2007, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by glxyman21 View Post
It really depends on the condo association on the rules and what they allow and what comes included in the fees.
That is the biggest factor for me. I used to live in a condo and it seemed like they would raise the fees every other month, plus there were no real amenities at the condos, just some beat up looking tennis courts. I felt like some grass mowing, snow plowing, and general maintenance wasn't worth the outrageous fees. The other thing is you don't have any real control over these fees. They are what they are and you have to pay them. On the flip side, a friend of mine lives in a condo complex with low monthly fees and they have a nice inground pool there and bigger grassy areas.

I personally hate condo living. I don't like the lack of yard and sharing common walls, I feel like it is an overpriced apartment. I also don't like the homeowner's associations that are so popular down south and I feel like condos come a bit too close to that for my liking. However it did suit me fine for a certain time in my life so I understand why others choose condo living.
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Old 10-11-2007, 06:48 AM
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The single car garage CONDO in Heritage Village (Southbury) was priced well below the $325K price we would spend (max.) on a house in Southbury or Southington, and I know most (if not all) maintenence on a Condo is done for you (covered by association fees) but you are 100% correct about neighbors that are "bored" and just want to complain and report any sort of "rule-breaking trouble" !! I am a real "do-it-yourself" guy, although aging (55+), but still like to take pride in my lawn. Had NO trouble cutting 1/2+ acre St. Augustine lawn in Florida using a 48" riding mower.... sure it took an hour or two, but that was Florida where grass needs to be cut EVERY week in the summer and every other week the rest of the year, and I did it. Wouldn't want to try it with a walk-behind mower, as I am doing now on 1/4 acre.

I grew up in Milford, Connecticut and lived in Connecticut for 48 years before making the mistake of moving down here to Florida. I lived in Huntington (Shelton) from '84 - '99 in a raised ranch with over 1.25 acres and woods in back and sides, also a neat stream running on my property. I had (quiet) parties/cookouts on my nice 20 x 20 deck, had a shed built in the back yard that was as large as a one car garage which "off-loaded" most of the items crammed in the garage or under a tarp under deck as well as patio and deck furniture storage in winter. It was MY OWN LAND, and yes the house seemed to always need some sort of repair, had a to-do list that kept growing, but IT WAS MINE !! I loved to take walks in MY OWN woods (except for those darn Ticks) !!

I have friends that recently purchased and moved into a Condo in Connecticut (Guilford) and were lucky enough to get an end unit, but they keep telling me they still would prefer a HOUSE, especially because the Father and Son love to work on their own vehicles to save money and as a hobby !! They have NO garage and hate it in winter, especially when the plow comes through and makes a nice snowmound behind the vehicles.

My Wife wants to just come home from a hard days work, NOT worry about the lawn or any house maintenence, make supper, then watch TV !! She does NOT care if her vehicle (a 2007) is kept outside so it can be ruined by the elements and get hundreds of "door dings" from careless parkers next to her. She says she is getting "old-and-tired" of working on a lawn and just wants a garden and a few flowers. I can understand HER objective, as she really wants this to be the LAST HOME we buy and somewhere we can live for 10 - 15 years then retire, but I just have a phobia of living in Condos and Apartments that she just DOES NOT understand.............

I still say Heritage Village (and MOST Condos) CAN be a Gestapo Camp (sorry to use that word) with too may restrictions for people (like ME) that don't like "crammed quarters" and a ONE car garage with rules, rules, rules up the ying-yang !! Just MY opinion...............

Last edited by wrrr; 10-11-2007 at 07:02 AM..
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Old 10-11-2007, 07:09 AM
Location: Tolland County- Northeastern CT
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I live in a small self managed townhouse group of 24 units in Vernon. We have no amenities- and we are allowed to do landscaping around our units.

HOA fees where $106 from 1992-2004, before jumping to $121- thats not bad at all.
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Old 10-11-2007, 07:15 AM
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Wow sky, you have a great deal going there. Those are some of the most reasonable condo fees I have ever heard of!
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Old 10-11-2007, 07:20 AM
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Just had the mention this....... we had a friend living in a Condo in Connecticut (New Haven area) for a year while looking for a house. It had one car garage (oh so tiny) under unit and second vehicle was allowed (if space was available) to park in allocated, lined out, spaces in front of her unit. Well Christmas was coming and around the first week in December she decided to put a few strings of small Christmas lights neatly on her railing of the HER front balcony........ within a day she got a nasty notice that if they we NOT removed a hefty fine would be imposed every day she had the lights up, and they were very "tasteful" and NOT sloppy or anything..........

MERRY CONDO CHRISTMAS !! Or as the association said, BAH HUMBUG !!
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Old 08-25-2011, 11:59 AM
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My husband and I are in our late 40's, early 50's and we will be signing a contract for a 2,000+SF condo today. I have owned 3 single family houses in the past while my kids were growing up because they needed the space. But at our ages and now that all kids are grown, we have come to love condo living. Neither of us are fond of yard work. Now we love to travel, go to the beach, bike and take walks and find it convenient not having to worry about the maint of a house as well as who to ask to get our mail when we are away. Our Condo community offers a pool and workout room so he can swim with the grandkids and I can work out. The floorplan is open which is great for entertaining & holiday dinners. We also have a 2car garage, a man cave and a nice sized fenced patio where we can get away from one another when necessary (LOL).We plan to be on the homeowners board to help keep the crazies from going too far with rules.(LOL)
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Old 08-25-2011, 04:17 PM
Location: Florida
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Personally, I wouldn't even consider a condo, because I don't like people or shared property, and a lack of personal yard space, even if it means having to do more maintenance yourself.
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Old 08-27-2011, 03:50 PM
Location: Central, CT
856 posts, read 2,014,990 times
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Wrrr I see what you would get out of a house and I'm right there with you but what does your wife expect to get out of a condo?

I made the upgrade from an end-unit, 2 car garage (under) townhouse in a populated area. The condo fees were close to $400 a month after increases the last 3 years. With the crappy winter we had the plowing didn't occur until AFTER the storm was over so we were stuck buying a snow blower and clearing the driveway to get to work on time. Dumpsters weren't emptied frequently enough, there was stray trash that never seemed to get picked up by anyone but me, the pool wasn't monitored enough to keep it resident only, and my neighbor (who had converted their garage to a rec room) would park on the island between our driveways partially blocking my driveway. oh and I could smell their weed and cooking through the wall.

In a house...I'm far enough apart that I can't smell my neighbors, it'd be extremely difficult to block my driveway, I find mowing the lawn relaxing and since I was already snowblowing, I fear not. Also my garage is next to my house not underneath so the house is warmer...you'd be surprised how much energy loss there is with under garages. I have a significant surplus between maintenance costs and the old condo fees so we started a JIC account and put in some money every month. Even if you had to pay out of pocket (I did this when we first moved) you can afford a really nice landscaping company that you can fire if you don't like their performance.

There are some things I miss about condo life though...we were close to public transit (if you want those far apart homes they're usually beyond the transit lines), I had access to a dumpster (even if it was sometimes overfilled), complexes in populated areas draw similar people and you'll probably make friends for walking or playing cards (harder if there's only 4 houses on your street), (not that you can expect problems in Southbury) populated condo complexes usually get police drive throughs daily which is kind of reassuring for those of us who travel a lot.

That said...I enjoyed the area my townhouse was in and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the area (westlake drive in middletown) to any young professional. Condos just seem more like a stepping stone to me. I guess this is why all the 55+ communities are coming...condo-like but without the shared wall/drive drama.
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