There are the obvious things you want to know before you buy a condo, such as the financial state of the condo corporation, what the condo fees are, and how many parking spaces are included with the unit. But then there are the less obvious things that you may not think of that come with condo living. I thought I would compile my list of things you should know before you buy a condo:
- If you lead a busy lifestyle a condo allows you the freedom to come home after a hard day's work and not have to worry about cutting the grass, shoveling the driveway, tending to the garden, emptying the eaves-troughs, etc. It's your responsibility to maintain your unit, but the rest of the maintenance is taken care of by the condo management.
- Although it's not a hard and fast rule, older condo buildings can often have larger floor plans, but they may lack the bells and whistles that newer buildings have like a pool, high-end gym, and concierge.
- Balconies can be great for entertaining and al fresco dining. But keep in mind that what is said on your balcony is likely heard by your neighbours that have their windows or balcony door open. Take your fights inside and close your windows!
- In some older condo buildings, the building controls when the heat and air conditioning are flipped on for the season. For example: the entire building will switch over to air conditioning in May and then switch over to heat in October. If you live in an older building and are someone (like me) who has hot flashes on a warm day in April, you may be left hauling out the floor fans to keep cool until the building switches on the A/C for the season. If this is something that would drive you crazy, best to focus your search on newer buildings where you get to call the shots on temperature control.
- Most condos have restrictions on the number of pets you are allowed per unit, and some have restrictions on the weight of each of the pets. If you have pets let your agent know so no time is wasted looking at condos that won't allow your fur children to live there with you.
- If your unit is near the elevator, garbage chute, or door to the stairwell you will likely hear it for the first couple weeks of living there and then you will likely start to tune it out. Most condos typically have time restrictions on when the garbage chute can be used so that helps too.
- Invest in one of those push carts on wheels to carry your groceries to your unit. The day you try to carry eight bags of groceries to avoid having to make two trips will be the day the elevator takes forevvvvver and your arms feel like they're going to fall off.
- You need to go with the flow. Most condos have their fire alarms tested every month, maintenance will be done which will involve the occasional water shut off, and service men will sometimes need access to your unit. It's part of condo living and you'll just need to accept the small inconveniences.
- You may never see your neighbours. Unless you run into them in the hall, it's possible that you live on the same floor for years without having met the people next door.
- If you plan to renovate your unit, make sure you get approval from the Condo Board first. While your unit is your property, the Condo Board still has the right to control what renovations and changes you make to the unit. If you do renovations without their permission and they find out, you risk them telling you that you must un-do the changes you made. Ouch!
- There is an increased sense of safety in a condo building because you are high off the ground and any intruder would have to get through the building's front door and then through your unit door.
- Condo fees will usually go up every year, but should not go up substantially unless there are major deficiencies in the condo's reserve fund, which should be revealed in the yearly financial statements that each unit owner is provided with.
- Expect to make lots of small talk during your elevator rides, or have long awkward quiet elevator rides. I'm convinced that the number one topic discussed in condo elevators is the weather.
Have other things you're curious about in regards to condo living? Drop me an e-mail and we can chat!