When my husband and I were looking to buy a home, we discovered that there weren’t any homes that we liked at our price point. Our real estate agent suggested we consider condos, and we ended up buying a townhouse (which is considered a condo as opposed to a single family dwelling). Here are some reasons we’ve been very happy we don’t have a single family dwelling to take care of:
1. No Yard or Pool to Maintain – The homeowner’s association takes care of maintaining the common areas. That means we don’t have to mow the lawn, weed the garden, water the grass, clean the pool, etc. And we don’t have to pay extra to have someone else do those things either. This is actually a big bonus, because it turns out I have a deadly black thumb and can’t grow anything (I’ve failed miserably at several attempts at container gardening) – yet my home is surrounded by beautifully tended hibiscus.
2. Other HOA Inclusives – Our monthly homeowner’s association fee include trash removal, water, and security. So we don’t pay anything extra to the city for trash service or water, and we don’t have to wheel our trash cans out into the street every week. Plus, there’s a private security company that regularly patrols the area, and we can call them if we spot anything suspicious. Other homeowner’s associations may include cable television, electricity, use of private party rooms, and more in their fees.
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3. Inherent Neighborhood Security – In addition to the private security company, there’s an inherent safety in closeness and numbers. Our townhouse is right next to several other residences, and we all look out for each other. And the sheer closeness increases the deterrence factor to any would-be criminal.
4. Lower Insurance Costs – Because we own less property, and because the homeowner’s association has its own insurance policies, our insurance premiums are lower. Our version of a homeowner’s policy covers everything from the walls in; the association’s policy covers the outer portion of the building. However, you’ll want to make sure you have all your bases covered – including, in California, earthquake insurance. Our earthquake policy includes a rider for a rebuilding assessment that might be imposed by the homeowner’s association. Another example would be flood insurance, which I know is required in some areas of the U.S., but I’m not sure is required if you own a condo rather than a single family dwelling.
5. Lower Property Taxes – Property taxes are based on the value of the property itself, and since our townhouse is worth less than we would have paid for a single family dwelling, our property taxes are less too. In fact, since we’ve been in our home for a number of years now, our property taxes are less than half of what many of our friends who bought their houses more recently pay to they county.
Of course, sometimes I do wish we had the space and privacy that a single family dwelling would give us, and that a townhouse, by definition, can’t. But we’ve saved a lot of money over the years thanks to the reasons listed above!