Dear Barb – Considering a Condo

Dear Barb: My husband and I have just gotten married and we are considering purchasing a condominium. The prices for condos seem to be reasonable considering all the features that are included. We both have very busy careers, so my husband likes the thought of not having to do all the outside maintenance. I’m sure there must be some drawbacks to condo living. Maybe you could provide some insight into this lifestyle. Thanks.

Jeanne in Quebec

Hi Jeanne. The decision to purchase a condominium should be carefully considered, as you are buying into a lifestyle. You will be living in close proximity to other owners, which could be quite a few people depending on the size of your complex.

In a condo, you own inwards from the paint on your walls. Unless you are purchasing a freehold condo, in which case you own the entire structure, but the land is commonly owned. In an attached condo, the property in your complex is considered common elements and jointly owned by all owners. However, some of the common elements are designated for your exclusive use. These may include decks, balconies, patios, and parking spaces. The details of the common and exclusive use elements will be outlined in the bylaws of your condominium corporation. Before purchasing a condo, you may want your lawyer to obtain a copy of the bylaws. These bylaws can only be amended based on receiving the support of at least 80% of all owners.

In a condominium, a company that the condo committee hires does all of the outside maintenance. The condo committee is made up of a board of directors who are elected by the owners and their job is to manage the corporation. I’m sure you are aware that you pay a monthly fee for this maintenance. Included in this monthly fee is the insurance on the exterior of your unit. As well, a portion of the monthly fee is put into a reserve fund for future repairs and maintenance. Your condo bylaws will outline all that is included in your condo fee. These bylaws are unique to each condo corporation.

Under certain conditions you may have to pay an additional assessment. This may occur if a large project is to be undertaken in your complex. For example, units may require new windows or a roof and there isn’t enough money in the reserve fund to cover this large expenditure. Each owner would receive an assessment that could be paid in a lump sum or on a monthly basis.

Condo living is not for everyone, but it can be a carefree lifestyle for individuals who lead a busy life or travel frequently. Many people do not enjoying doing outside work, as may be the case for you and your husband. Also, individuals who are physically unable to do the maintenance required in a stand-alone house may enjoy condo living.

I hope I have been able to present some aspects of condo living that you may not have considered. I personally live in a condo. My husband and I truly enjoy the lifestyle.

E-mail your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.