A condo is a unit in a multiunit structure, or on land owned in common (such as a town house complex), while an apartment is described as a room or set of rooms fitted especially with housekeeping facilities and usually leased as a dwelling. These subtle differences can become big ones when you’re deciding when or where to move. 

  • The primary difference between a condo and an apartment is that a condo is considered a unit that you own, while an apartment is one that you rent.
  • Technically, a condo is owned by a management company, and it has a board or homeowners association (HOA) made up of fellow residents who are responsible for serving as the voice of the tenants and liaising with management. 


To move into a condo, you must fill out an application. Usually, you submit an offer to purchase the unit in addition to application paperwork that details your financials, lifestyle, and any pets you have. This application, along with your offer, gets reviewed both by building management and the HOA or board. Sometimes there’s even an interview with the board. This application must be approved in order to move in.

To move into an apartment, there is most likely, but not as in depth, an application, bank statements, employment details and references from past landlords.   will still require you to provide  . The application will then be reviewed and accepted by the landlord or building management. and you would submit your security deposit and first month’s rent. In some cases, you may also be asked to put down your final month’s rent as well.

Moving Out

Moving out of a condo is much more difficult than moving out of an apartment. Because you own the unit, you aren’t subject to waiting until the end of a lease term to time your move, but as the owner of the condo you’re responsible for finding a new buyer. Unless there’s a new buyer, you’ll be responsible for all bills until someone new moves in.

With an apartment, you usually have to give your landlord 30 to 60 days’ notice that you won’t be renewing your lease. After that, you’re free to move out at the end of your lease term. The landlord then has a few weeks to review the state of the apartment and return your security deposit. (It’s important to give the unit a thorough cleaning, undo any changes you’ve made like removing wallpaper, and repair any damage before you go to get your full deposit back.) Once the lease term is over, the landlord is responsible for all costs and for finding a new tenant.

Monthly Costs and Fees

Living in a condo requires you to pay a monthly board or HOA fee which goes toward building-wide maintenance, regular landscaping, renovations or updates to shared spaces, and the cleaning of shared spaces. In some cases, it may cover some of your utilities like gas, water, or sewage. When the board or HOA decides to undertake an expensive project that’ll benefit all of the building’s residents, like replacing a roof or repaving a parking lot, you may also have to contribute to a special assessment.

An apartment, however, doesn’t require you to pay any of those fees. Usually, the landlord covers any building upkeep or maintenance that the property requires.


With a condo, you as an owner typically don’t have to get permission to paint or make any other design changes to your unit. However, if your building’s co-op board or HOA is a bit overbearing, and especially if you live in a historic building, you may have to present your plans and get approval before any changes can be made.

In apartments, all changes—even minor cosmetic ones—must be approved by your landlord. Even something as simple and reversible as a fresh coat of paint could cause you to lose your security deposit. If you’re living in an apartment, it’s always better to ask permission rather than forgiveness.

Which one is right for you?

Are you ready to buy a home? While a condo may not be detached or come with a garage or yard, buying one the same as purchasing a full-fledged house. It may cost less, but it’s still much more expensive than renting an apartment.

An apartment gives you much more flexibility when it comes to moving in and out, living somewhere in the short term, and saving money in the short term. Real estate is always a good investment, though, no matter where you live. 

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