There are many benefits to owning a condo, most of all that you OWN a condo, but sometimes the lifestyle is not for everybody. Take a careful look at the way you live your life before you jump into your first condo purchase. A condo can be more than a financial commitment, it can also be a social commitment, and there are a few considerations to take to make sure your condo experience is a good one.
Costs: there are more than just the monthly mortgage fees and property taxes to consider when you own a condo. There are also monthly fees, referred to as maintenance fees, strata fees. This is a monthly payment to the strata to ensure the smooth running and operation of the building. This can cover a variety of things, and will be clarified in the MLS spec sheet. It covers things like hot water, heat, costs to have a property management company oversee the workings of the building, a caretaker, and your recreation facilities, which can also include the use of the pool, hot tub and sauna. Your strata fees are run according to unit entitlement, so the guy who has a 500 square foot suite will pay less than the guy who has 1000 square foot suite.
The social setting: Condo living is living in a very social setting. Whether you like it or not, you are living in close quarters with all the other inhabitants of the building. It is important to know who your neighbors are, and what kind of age demographic is in the building. If you are just retiring and looking forward to a lifestyle of laid back peace and quiet, it might not be a good idea to buy in a building that appeals to the younger set. Ask your realtor about this and do some research of your own.
Bylaws: the bylaws of a building will be a set of house rules that are put in place by the strata council, to ensure that everyone is living in a safe and productive environment. They will include big things like restrictions on how many pets you can have, if at all. They will also cover the minutia of what color of drapes you may have on your windows. If your dream is to live life marching to the beat of your own drummer, strata might not be the right choice.
Join the strata council: By far this is the best way to have a say within your building about what goes on, the bylaws, where the money is spent and what kind of projects the strata should be focusing on to spend their money. It is a major time commitment, but well worth your while, especially if you are a type A personality, who likes to have a say.
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