Condos Versus Houses


Sometimes people begin the home buying process already knowing whether they’d like a condominium or a house, and other times, they’re unsure. While some people feel that houses are a better investment than condos, that isn’t always the case. And there are trade-offs, regardless of which type of home you choose.

The key to knowing whether to buy a condo and house is simple: identify the features and benefits of each that you like, and determine which is a better fit.



Condos are similar in some ways to apartments. Usually built in a series of connected units, condos can range from studios to three and four bedroom elaborate affairs. The average condo was around 1,482 square feet in 2013. This translates out to being a comfortably spacious two bedroom, or an efficient three bedroom. Their distribution on properties will vary by community, with urban areas gravitating towards taller developments for space economy. While many condos may include a small patio or garden space, generally speaking there’s not room for expansion.

Pros for Condos:

  • Larger than the typical apartment
  • Can accommodate multiple people
  • Floor plans are standardized and efficient


By contrast, the average single family home in the United States is around 2,165 square feet. (In some communities, including Long Beach, the average condo and house is far smaller than the national average.) The average number of bedrooms and bathrooms is a 3 to 2 ratio, so not too different from the options you have through a condominium. While you may not need a five bedroom home with a two car garage and lawn when you move in, it’s certainly nice to have the option to make one if circumstances change. With a house, you have an opportunity to add-on if the lot size will permit expansion.

Since there is more room to work in, houses tend to have more unique floor plans, although there are certainly exceptions with some housing tracts.

Pros for Houses:

  • Close to twice the square footage available in the average condo
  • Diversified floor plans
  • Flexibility for future changes



The location of the property is one of the key differences between a single family homes and a condo. Condos are often situated in urban centers . While this doesn’t mean that the condo complex will be high rise, it’s a common format for downtown areas, and other densely populated cities. In Long Beach, the condo buildings along the coastline, in downtown and other areas include highrise and lowrise buildings, and large and small complexes, which provides plenty of diversity for would-be buyers.

One of the best aspects of living in a condo is that it often allows the owner easy access to city life, keeping them integrated in their neighborhoods without having to sacrifice homeownership. Your complex may very well be directly above your favorite restaurant, or only a couple blocks away from a great shopping area.

Pros for Condos:

  • Plenty of urban locations
  • Affordable city homeownership
  • Close proximity to amenities and activities
  • Diversity of condominium complex types


Houses are traditionally in suburban and rural communities, though there are also some in urban locations. Houses in urban locations may be part of an older neighborhood, sometimes a historical area. The houses themselves can vary drastically from neighborhood to neighborhood, with many folks choosing to live in areas predominantly featuring one particular architectural style, whether that is Spanish style, Craftsman, or mid-century modern.

Pros for Houses:

  • More suburban and rural locations
  •  Huge diversity of styles and appearance

Rules and Maintenance


The HOA (Homeowners Association)  is among the most notable parts of living in a condominium complex because pretty much all of them have one. The association implements rules and bylaws that bind the residents. These rules can include things like house improvements, usage of amenities, noise levels, number of guests, and rental rights.  With the HOA comes a monthly cost known as HOA dues. This cost varies from complex to complex, both in the amount as well as in what it covers.

One benefit of an HOA is that it puts responsibillity for the common spaces shared by the complex into someone else’s hands. This leaves condo owners to enjoy their property rather than concern themselves with exterior maintenance. Repairs to the interior of the condo are still their responsibility. They may also sometimes be responsible for the landscaping of outdoor areas connected to the property.

Pros for Condos:

  • Rules help provide consistency
  • Responsible for the condo, not the surrounding features


With a house, maintaining the exterior of the home and its landscaping is the responsibility of the owner. For many that’s a joy, because it comes with choices, but others might consider it a burden.

Keep in mind that some newer housing developments may also have HOAs. If you’re in the market for a house, be sure to double check if this is a requirement so that you’re not surprised. There are also an abundance of neighborhood associations that engage local homeowners and encourage good homeownership practices.

Pros for Houses:

  • Homeowner has more control over home
  • Some neighborhoods will include an HOA
  • Neighborhood associations connect homeowners

The Fun Stuff


Condos may come with a lot of bells and whistles that houses don’t always have from the get-go. Condo complexes vary but often have shared amenities like pools, clubhouses, or gyms that are maintained by the HOA for the benefit of the residents. Barbecues,  and other private event areas are also common. For those looking for a posh lifestyle who don’t want the responsibility of maintaining these features, or paying a membership for something they’ll have to drive to, this is ideal. This puts homeowners with condos in the position to have their city lifestyle and all of the fun features you might find at a resort.


Pros for Condos:

  • Pools and other club-like amenities included in HOA
  • Not responsible for maintaining communal amenities
  • Easy hand-off to future buyer


Houses don’t always have all the bells and whistles added, but they do have the space and freedom to pick and choose what you want added. Where a condo complex may prohibit putting in a deck and spa in your outdoor space, houses are often limited only by their local rules and visibility. Installing custom features is only limited by your budget and future plans for resale. This makes including new smart home features and entertaining spaces a breeze.

The outstanding benefit for many is the exclusivity of these amenities. The pool being open until 10pm isn’t an issue when you own it personally. The deck is always available for your own private parties without having to check for other community members first. Single family homes can be found that have a pool, barbecue, and community access to club features, but a high premium will likely be paid for them.

Pros for Houses:

  • Able to choose the features and amenities
  • Exclusive rights to their use
  • Interesting additions make houses memorable to buyers

Choosing the Right Home For You

Condos and houses are spread across our cities nationwide, and the decision to buy either one is a personal choice. When looking at either one, consider what’s important to you. If you want a home of your own but don’t enjoy maintaining every little aspect of the property, a condo may be the way to go. Alternatively if you like you space and value having more options for future improvements or expansion, you may prefer a house.  Think about your daily life and what you value. Neighborhoods and proximity to what’s important to you are key, but if frequent house guests, gardening, resale value, or family are important to you, a condo or house definitely may have more value over the other. Affordability can vary from area to area, so looking at the features of each and seeing what you’re most comfortable with should be priority number one.

Need help in deciding which option is best for you? Ready to start your search? Our team has helped hundreds of homeowners buy and sell, and we’d be happy to help assist you with identifying the home that best matches your needs. Fill out the contact form below, and we’ll be happy to get you going forward with your home purchase.

About the Author

Shannon Jones has been selling real estate since 1998 and specializes in listing and marketing homes. She has consistently been one of the top Realtors in the Long Beach area. Prior to her award-winning career in real estate with the Shannon jones Team, Shannon has had successful careers in journalism and public relations. She holds a bachelors degree from UC Irvine and a masters degree from UC Berkeley. Shannon holds E-Pro, CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert), and PSC (Pre-Foreclosure Specialist) certifications. Shannon is very personable and maintains a very strong moral compass, always putting the best interest of home buyers/sellers above monetary goals. A California native, Shannon enjoys gardening, travel, reading, cooking and poker when she’s not selling homes MY DESIGNATIONS Lic# 01247705 | CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert) | E-Pro | PSC (Pre-Foreclosure Specialist) MY SERVICE AREAS Anaheim Bellflower Buena Park Carson Cerritos Cypress Downey Fountain Valley Garden Grove Huntington Beach La Palma Lakewood Long Beach Los Alamitos Los Angeles County Norwalk Orange County Rossmoor San Pedro Seal Beach Signal Hill South Bay Westminster

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