Is It Worth It to Buy a Condo?

Things to do in Ottawa this Long Weekend
August 3, 2018
Ottawa’s Top 10 High Schools & Elementary Schools
August 27, 2018
Show all

Is It Worth It to Buy a Condo?

The first condominium development in Canada was registered in 1967 at the townhouse complex of Brentwood Village in Edmonton, Alberta. Since then, condominiums have become a popular form of housing for many people in the country of Canada and all over the world. A condo is a type of real estate divided into units that are separately owned and surrounded by common areas such as game rooms, laundry rooms or fitness centres which are jointly owned by the people who live in the building or complex. The difference between a condo and an apartment is that a condo unit is owned outright, whereas an apartment unit is leased by its tenants.

Condos often get a bad reputation because of the condo fees that you have to pay on top of your mortgage. If you think of these fees like maintenance fees at a freehold house, they actually end up being a similar amount. Having to pay a company for snow removal, landscaping, plumbing or electrical can get fairly pricey, and these are usually a large lump sum that has to be paid all at once. If you think of condo fees like car payments for a new vehicle, they don't seem quite as bad. 

What is all included in your condo fees? 

The amenities differ from one condominium to another, but a lot of the time your condo fees will include things like: swimming pool, gym, property maintenance, water/sewer, building insurance and reserve funds. Some buildings will even include heat and hydro which can be a great way to cut down on your bills. Many luxury condos also come with concierge service, a rooftop terrace, a guest suite or even a yoga studio. For a list of some great Ottawa luxury condos with a great view, check out our blog post: Ottawa Condos with a View.

You may be wondering what a reserve fund is 

A portion of your condo fees usually includes a reserve fund. This portion of fees are paid by all of the residents in the building and this money goes towards major upgrades, emergencies or natural disasters. If a building is in need of major repairs, a special assessment may be required, and your reserve fund fees may be increased without much notice. Though this isn’t common, it could happen and you need to know that there is a possibility for this increase to occur.

So why would anyone want to buy a condo when they could just lease an apartment or buy a freehold house? This article shares a quick overview of some the pros and cons of purchasing a condo. There are many great aspects of condo living, but - like anything - all positives come with negatives and ultimately, you are the one who will determine if it is worth it for yourself and your family.



  • Most of the maintenance and repair responsibilities are not on you as the owner
  • You may not be able to decide when maintenance and repairs get done
  • Unlimited access to building amenities, such as a swimming pool or gym, which you otherwise might not be able to afford
  • You may have to pay for amenities that you might never or rarely use
  • Security cameras and guards in some buildings. While on vacation you know that your neighbours are close by
  • Less privacy in some condominium units and possibly more noise
  • Monthly maintenance or condo fees are usually predictable.
  • Possibility of special assessment charges for unexpected repairs
  • Many units come with underground or covered parking which eliminates having to off brush snow
  • The possibility of not having a parking space or storage locker
  • A community that may have a range of social, entertainment and recreational activities
  • Possible restrictions on things like noise levels and pets

So, there you have a quick overview of 6 pros and cons of living in a condo unit. You can save money on things like gym memberships, maintenance and insurance, however, you are constantly paying into these amenities and your monthly payments could increase at any time.

When renting an apartment, you are not building any sort of investment for yourself, however, you don't have to worry about replacing your refrigerator when it breaks down.

When purchasing a freehold home, you don't have to pay any other monthly fees than your mortgage and regular household bills, however, when disaster strikes, you may need to put an expensive new roof on the house.

No matter what you choose for your living situation, there are going to be drawbacks. Before making any sort of housing purchase, you should be sure to consult with your real estate agent, financial advisor and lawyer.

If you have any questions about condo living, or if you think that purchasing a condo is the right move for you, give us a call at 613-457-5000. We at the Susan and Moe Team have lots of experience buying and selling condo units for our clients and we would love to help find the perfect condo (or freehold) for you!