Condo living is quite popular in South Florida, particularly along the eastern coastline. The decision to move into a condo is multifaceted. Below we list some of the pros and cons of condo living, as compared to single-family home living.
Pros of condo living
- Home ownership without the maintenance: A major benefit of condo living is the ability to own your home without having to keep up with a lot of maintenance. Unlike a single-family home where you have to maintain the exterior grounds, all common area maintenance is included in your association dues with condo living. This is particularly beneficial for people with busy schedules.
- An economical way to live on the water: Whether you are looking to live directly on the ocean or the intracoastal, condo living allows this to be financially feasible for more homeowners. Needless to say, a single-family home directly on the ocean in South Florida is not a financially feasible option for most home buyers.
- Benefits of a social community: Many condos provide an excellent way to meet other people in the community and socialize. Oftentimes, condo associations will even coordinate social functions around holidays or other celebratory events.
- Breathtaking views: Whether it is a view of the ocean, intracoastal waterway, or the big city, condo units in higher floors can provide amazing views for home owners to enjoy. These views are something that most single-family homes would not be able to provide.
Cons of condo living
- Costly assessments: Condo buildings require constant upkeep, particularly if they are in harsh environments. This is particularly true for oceanfront condo buildings. Due to the harmful effects of the salt air, these buildings need to go through periodic concrete restoration projects. Not only are these repairs quite costly, they are also disruptive for many months.
- On-site construction: In addition to building wide construction projects, you must remember that individual unit owners may also embark on construction projects at any given time. Although most condo buildings will have strict rules about construction hours of operation, it can still be quite disruptive. This has become an even bigger factor now that many professionals are working remotely from home.
- Lack of privacy: Given the proximity to your neighbors, it can be challenging to find privacy at times. For example, a quiet & relaxing evening on the balcony overlooking the ocean can quickly turn disruptive as soon as a few loud neighbors step onto their balconies.
- Community rules: Although most condo rules are generally universally accepted, they can be a moving target at times. This can lead to confusion and even anger for some residents. For example, these rules can even limit the kinds of renovations that are allowed to take place in the units.
- Rental restrictions: If you are planning on ultimately renting out your condo unit, you will want to pay close attention to the rental restrictions for your given building. Oftentimes, these restrictions will even limit you to 1 or 2 leases per year. In addition, some buildings require a 1 or 2 year waiting period after taking ownership before you are allowed to rent out your unit. Of course, some buildings forbid the renting of units altogether. If rentals are allowed, they will likely require an additional layer of condo association approval of a tenant prior to executing a lease agreement.
Condo living can be a great option depending on your current needs. As mentioned above, it is likely the only cost-effective way for many people to live on the ocean in South Florida. As with anything, there are certainly trade offs to condo living though. When looking to potentially purchase a condo, there are several key things to focus on. In addition to determining the structural integrity from prior inspections or concrete restorations, it is also important to analyze the financial statements for the association. For example, a building with no financial reserves can result in quite costly assessments in the near future. An experienced real estate agent should be able to guide you in finding out these critical pieces of information.
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