Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

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Cycle
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Cycle »

rich126 wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:39 am At times a condo sounds interesting to me as I get older but my big issues are:

1. Noise
2. Maintenance of the building
3. Cleanliness of the facility

I've never lived in a big city so I'm not use to dealing with those kinds of things. I've had one townhouse and the rest of the time individual homes. I don't think I could handle having people live above and below me.

I found the nosy neighbor comment entertaining. I had a very nice grandmother who lived in a SFH and I visited frequently as a kid but I always recall her peeking out the window and then telling me stories about various neighbors (none of whom I knew at all).
Noise usually isn't an issue if u are on the top floor and your balcony doesn't face a street with high speed traffic.

I lived on top floor of a 4plex and now a duplex.

Stairs are free exercise
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stan1
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by stan1 »

There are many ways to design a condo complex. Some were built as apartments and converted to condos so the unit feels like an apartment inside. Some are constructed as row houses with interior and end units (latter getting more light). Some are constructed as quadplexes or duplexes with each unit getting a small yard. Some are one story and others are two or three stories. Parking can be in a garage, lot, detached garages, or an attached garage. There can even be single family homes in a zero lot line community. Those factors can affect livability as well as desirability at time of resale.

When we've bought condos we've sought out units that live like a single family home (no one above or below, thick shared walls, private patio, two car attached garage). Coupled with a great location we've been fortunate to experience good value retention even in a down market.
SrGrumpy
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by SrGrumpy »

Ask about the leaf-blower policy (the Fla. condo Airbnb I'm staying in now has these infernal machines running at all hours).
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Taylor Larimore
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Taylor Larimore »

Bogleheads:

I have lived in several homes and several condominiums. Each can be preferable under various conditions (children, location, friends, family, employment, etc.).

Twenty-six years ago we bought a 1,600 sq. ft. condominium in a 250-unit high-rise building for $250,000. Zillow now estimates it's value at $710,000. It is on the edge of downtown Miami. My bank is a block away. Restaurants and shops abound. We have a heated pool, gym, garage, good security, concierge and valet service. If I need help our staff (which is like family) will oblige. Maintenance and gardening (except what is on the balconies) is provided. If a resident misbehaves, we have recourse through our manager's office. My view each day across Biscayne Bay where I grew-up is exhilarating. Sunset's are magnificent.

For me, in retirement, condo living has been very pleasant.

Best wishes.
Taylor
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CoastalWinds
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by CoastalWinds »

This is a great thread, very informative!
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dm200
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by dm200 »

"Condo" is a form of "ownership" and can actually be many different types of physical housing - from apartment to townhouse.

Seems to me that an apartment condo would have the same issues as renting a similar apartment.
Wilderness Librarian
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Wilderness Librarian »

I am a single guy and lived in a 2 bedroom condo of a bit over 17 yrs & sold at retirement. For me it was great - pros & cons mentioned by others above. Also very convenient location right on city bus line, good things in the neighborhood etc. No regrets about this at all - but one of the biggest drawbacks was a shocker at the end when I put it on the market. So many of the prospective buyers were extremely picky and wanted every tiny convenience imaginable but didn't want to pay for them (kind of like people who want a full range of government services but complain bitterly about any and all taxes). Biggest point was that people had to climb stairs (granted some can't I am factoring that into account). It took 7 months and 7 price drops to sell.
knightrider
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by knightrider »

Short answer:

Many investor owned units ( more than 10-20% ) = BAD

Best to buy a condo where renting is not allowed.
delamer
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by delamer »

Cycle wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:48 am
rich126 wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:39 am At times a condo sounds interesting to me as I get older but my big issues are:

1. Noise
2. Maintenance of the building
3. Cleanliness of the facility

I've never lived in a big city so I'm not use to dealing with those kinds of things. I've had one townhouse and the rest of the time individual homes. I don't think I could handle having people live above and below me.

I found the nosy neighbor comment entertaining. I had a very nice grandmother who lived in a SFH and I visited frequently as a kid but I always recall her peeking out the window and then telling me stories about various neighbors (none of whom I knew at all).
Noise usually isn't an issue if u are on the top floor and your balcony doesn't face a street with high speed traffic.

I lived on top floor of a 4plex and now a duplex.

Stairs are free exercise
While I agree that upstairs noise is the biggest problem, I lived in a couple condo-apartments where noise from next door was an issue too.
stan1
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by stan1 »

knightrider wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:08 am
Best to buy a condo where renting is not allowed.
Some states have laws that prevent HOA's from banning rentals (property owner rights).
ohai
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by ohai »

I don't think it matters if the building is mostly investor owned. My current building is like that, and it is fine. However, it is a somewhat expensive building, so tenants are mostly high quality as well. Some of the owners use them as part time residences, so they aren't even there most of the time. I would recommend that you go somewhere with a no Air-BnB policy though, as those guys really cause issues, damage, party, and so on.

Better buildings also tend to have better construction and therefore less noise penetration, better maintained common areas, service, and so on.
sergio
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by sergio »

I like our townhouse. Good soundproofing, attached two car garage - inside it doesn't feel much different from a SFH. The HOA bans rentals and most of the residents have lived there a long long time and care about the complex. HOA is pretty reasonable and we are self-managed.

I would very much hesitate to buy into a traditional mid/high rise condo. Lost of them around here are wood framed (anything under 5 stories) which is a non starter. And the high-rises always seem to get hit with some sort of major assessment (elevator repair, water intrusion, etc.) that are non-issues for townhomes.

Plus, the noise! My wife visited her friend a few weeks ago who just bought a brand new luxury condo in a building that had units selling up to $1M --- you could hear the neighbor's dog barking through the wall, ever door slam from the hallway, etc.
knightrider
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by knightrider »

ohai wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:55 am I don't think it matters if the building is mostly investor owned.
It matters a lot, because renters don't have the same standards as owners.. While most are ok, a significant minority can cause lots of headaches. Plus nobody wants to live with neighbours who change every year.
knightrider
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by knightrider »

stan1 wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:43 am Some states have laws that prevent HOA's from banning rentals (property owner rights).
I remember doing some research on this and found out that condos are generally free to make whatever rules they like regardless of what the state law happens to be. Some rules might get challenged, but things like renting will likely not be.
sergio
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by sergio »

knightrider wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 11:12 am
ohai wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:55 am I don't think it matters if the building is mostly investor owned.
It matters a lot, because renters don't have the same standards as owners.. While most are ok, a significant minority can cause lots of headaches. Plus nobody wants to live with neighbours who change every year.
It definitely matters to the bank if you are trying to get a mortgage to buy one.
ohai
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by ohai »

sergio wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 11:16 am
knightrider wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 11:12 am
ohai wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:55 am I don't think it matters if the building is mostly investor owned.
It matters a lot, because renters don't have the same standards as owners.. While most are ok, a significant minority can cause lots of headaches. Plus nobody wants to live with neighbours who change every year.
It definitely matters to the bank if you are trying to get a mortgage to buy one.
I am just speaking from experience - other accounts might differ. You can mitigate some of these issues from lots of renters if the building has strongly enforced rules (I mentioned Air BnB in particular), and is at a price point that eliminates many tenants with negative characteristics. I doubt that residents in One57 have issues with neighbors. If you care about stable neighbors, then that is one consideration against rented units. I don't care about this myself though.

I don't know about mortgages - never had an issue either way, but I guess it depends on the situation. I'd even guess that condo buildings with more stable owners would be more strict and take longer to process approvals for buyers.
Last edited by ohai on Wed Apr 24, 2019 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
GatorFL
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by GatorFL »

Our first house was a townhouse roughly 30 years ago. No HOA, it was a nightmare. I can sum the nightmare up in 1 word: Subwoofer.

The neighboring unit was a family that all listened to loud obnoxious music that kept us up and made life miserable. The local authorities would do little after we tried to reason with them.

I was very lucky that I got transferred and my company bought the house from me with no loss.

I believe there should be a standard sound transmission test completed on any new development of condos and townhouses. There should be a max tolerated noise level. This would enforce standard levels of sound insulation. Also, subwoofers should be banned.

I will never willingly live in another shared wall environment. I treasure my peace and quiet.

My advice: Have a noise transmission test done before purchasing. My better advice: Get a house with a yard.
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Dottie57 »

MrNewEngland wrote: Sun Apr 24, 2016 2:32 pm As a single guy I lived in a condo in the downtown area of my town for 12 years. A couple years ago a bought a house and rented the condo out... and I kick myself almost every day for doing it. Condos are the best.

I have lived in a large condo complex for 30+years. I don’t like outside work. Association is responsible for outside maintenance, heating costs, water, hall lighting, garage maintnance etc. the complex doesn’t own amenities, but is associated with a park with excercise equip and a pool shared with a smaller hotel. Btw, really check out amenities as they are expensive and get a copy of the budget so you understand the costs of the condo.
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by protagonist »

My issue with condo living is that out of 100 residents, the two miserable ones can make life hell for the remaining 98. And (from my experience with the townhouse I inherited from my mom in FL), those two are the two most dissatisfied and thus most likely to want to be on the board and make decisions.

I am a homeowner who also owned a condo for a long time. In my humble opinion, condo ownership combines the worst aspects of renting with the worst aspects of home ownership. If you are a renter and your landlord raises your rent, or does not do what you consider required maintenance, or if you have pesky neighbors who are constantly complaining about what you are doing or doing things that annoy you, you can easily move.

Plus, if you have a pool or tennis courts or a gym or a clubhouse and don't use one or more of those things, you still pay for it. If you think you need more security, some of your neighbors might not want to pay for it. If you think you are paying too much for security, others may outvote you. These are strangers, not family members or friends. Consider the unpredictable potential conflicts and hostilities that may arise.

I play the saxophone. Can I practice during normal daytime hours? If my neighbors don't mind today, will the one who buys the next door unit mind tomorrow? And if it is not a saxophone, maybe it is just your children or your pet or.... (substitute anything here, because I imagine everybody potentially does something that might be offensive to someone- and in a condo anything could spell trouble).

If doing my own maintenance was an issue for me, I would buy a private home that required little maintenance and hire people to do it before I would relinquish my control over my life to an unknown group of strangers which can change at any time. Or rent, so that at least I would have an escape valve.
knightrider
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by knightrider »

ohai wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 12:19 pm I doubt that residents in One57 have issues with neighbors.
I would guess they have the same issues as any other condos, loud music, delinquency, lack of respect for common elements, to name a few..
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LilyFleur
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by LilyFleur »

marcwd wrote: Mon Apr 25, 2016 5:22 pm As was remarked to me once, condo living is like renting an apartment. But now you own the place.
Actually, no. It depends on the percentage of renters in your condo development. The more owner-occupied units you have, the better off you are. Our property management company actually got rid of a problem tenant last year. Also, my condo has doubled in value since I bought it and I could sell at any time in a matter of days and buy a mansion in a LCOL area! For only $425 a month in HOAs, I live in a gated community with beautiful tennis courts, landscaping, a pool, a jacuzzi, a clubhouse, and a locked mailroom. We can use the outdoor areas most of the year as our weather is beautiful here. There is no way I could afford exterior maintenance, a tennis court, a gardener, a pool, and a jacuzzi in a single family home for $425 a month. Also, my energy savings are significant. I only have one exterior wall. I rarely use heat or air conditioning. I am single, and I actually like the noise of human beings and animals above me. I like petting my neighbors' dogs when I walk outside.

The main negative for me: in our regulations, it states that the homeowner will put in an insurance claim for damage in their unit, no matter who caused the damage. I put in a claim for a $32,000 flood on my insurance a few years back, and now if I have another claim in 5 years, I will lose my insurance. So, the next time my upstairs neighbor is negligent and floods my unit, he will be threatened with a lawsuit if he doesn't pay my damages. I later found out that the bottom floor occupants generally get the person who caused the flood to pay for their damages because of this insurance guideline. I do like, however, not having to climb stairs to my condo.

Where I live, the term "condo" means that the living unit is separate from the garage area. A "townhome" usually has a garage where you drive in, park, and then enter directly into your unit.

Either way, a condo is the only place I can afford in coastal southern California.
BFive55
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by BFive55 »

I recently moved from a townhome to an apartment and this is the first apartment I have ever lived in. It's an interesting experience. Part of it is nice in that there is no work to do on the exterior or lawn but at the same time it is louder. I don't know if I could buy a condo though and as much as I hate yard work and maintenance I think a nice townhome or a SFH would be preferable.

Plus the association fees with a condo are usually $300-400 where I am. Even if I have maintenance on my house or townhome I can pay some kid $25 every two weeks to mow the lawn and $25 to trim bushes and still come out about even.
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by squirm »

Condos, yuck, now you'll have to hear your neighbors all the time. Frankly, I don't know how anyone could live in a condo.
sergio
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by sergio »

I don't know what is is about condos in the US.

A few months back I was visiting my (Chinese) in-laws in China. They, like 99% of all other Chinese people, like in a very modest condo. Yet I noticed the place was built like a fortress. Thick concrete floors, 1-foot concrete walls between neighbors, brick exterior, and an incredibly thick solid wood front door. When the windows were shut you couldn't hear a thing. Even the dividing walls within the unit were concrete.

The buildings that pass for "condos" in our area nowadays are a disgrace. First of, anything up to 5 stories is wood frame, which is an abomination in addition to what seems like a major fire hazard. My wife recently visited her friend that lives in a brand new high rise "luxury" condo, and while the floors were concrete, apparently the walls were so thin you could hear dogs barking next door and conversation from out in the hallway thru the walls/door. I later looked at some of the construction photos of the building on Facebook, and saw that the dividing walls were simply drywall attached to metal studs with some pink fluffy insulation. You could break into a unit from the hallway with a small knife, or simply by kicking the wall in LOL !!! :confused
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by abuss368 »

Taylor Larimore wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:31 am Bogleheads:

I have lived in several homes and several condominiums. Each can be preferable under various conditions (children, location, friends, family, employment, etc.).

Twenty-six years ago we bought a 1,600 sq. ft. condominium in a 250-unit high-rise building for $250,000. Zillow now estimates it's value at $710,000. It is on the edge of downtown Miami. My bank is a block away. Restaurants and shops abound. We have a heated pool, gym, garage, good security, concierge and valet service. If I need help our staff (which is like family) will oblige. Maintenance and gardening (except what is on the balconies) is provided. If a resident misbehaves, we have recourse through our manager's office. My view each day across Biscayne Bay where I grew-up is exhilarating. Sunset's are magnificent.

For me, in retirement, condo living has been very pleasant.

Best wishes.
Taylor
Incredible Taylor and thank you for sharing! We eventually want to move to a condo at retirement and have experience the many benefits you noted.
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motorcyclesarecool
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by motorcyclesarecool »

Make sure your association is big enough to attain economies of scale. Too small, and you might as well pay someone to haul your refuse and cut your grass yourself. Also, find out when the most recent reserve study took place. Associations with solid reserves are better than associations that charge “special” assessments each year.

What has completely put me off condo living was when my small association nearly lost its insurance coverage due to someone littering cigarette butts on the ground off their back deck. Anywhere you buy, you cannot choose who your new neighbors will be. With a condo, your new neighbors’ actions can have significant externalities on you.

Full disclosure: my condo is currently under contract. I cannot wait to close.

I might do it again, if it were a BIG association run professionally, and at a luxury price point with amenities to match.
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dm200
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by dm200 »

One financial issue with apartment condo ownership has to do with any (and the type) of restrictions on your renting out the condo. I believe you probably want a middle ground.

If there are no restrictions, then there is a risk of having too many renters - which can lead to some problems. On the other hand, if there are too many restrictions, you could be precluded from ranting out the condo at all.

I believe some kind of rental cap of about 20% or so rentals may make the most sense.

With a condo ownership, you are also subject to two extremes of being assessed for maintenance/improvement matters. On the one hand, the condo governance might mandate spending a lot on things that you do not need or want. On the other hand, they may be very "cheap" and not do sufficient maintenance/improvement.

There is also the financial matter of building and maintaining sufficient reserves to pay for large maintenance/improvements without a big assessment to owners.
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by MarkerFM »

Our winter home is a condo. We couldn't be happier. It literally lives like a house and is as quiet as a tomb. Only six units in each building, two per floor. Thick concrete floors and dividing wall between the units. No rentals under 90 days, and in practice none under a year happen and those only rarely. Prospective buyers are interviewed and have to submit a financial statement and undergo a background check. The neighbors are great, and we are friends with many. We have frequent social events and the amenities and service are stellar. Not cheap to buy and the association fees are pricy, but oh so worth it.
delamer
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by delamer »

MarkerFM wrote: Thu Apr 25, 2019 5:14 pm Our winter home is a condo. We couldn't be happier. It literally lives like a house and is as quiet as a tomb. Only six units in each building, two per floor. Thick concrete floors and dividing wall between the units. No rentals under 90 days, and in practice none under a year happen and those only rarely. Prospective buyers are interviewed and have to submit a financial statement and undergo a background check. The neighbors are great, and we are friends with many. We have frequent social events and the amenities and service are stellar. Not cheap to buy and the association fees are pricy, but oh so worth it.
That sounds terrific!

How did you find your development? We’d certainly consider something with those qualities, but I don’t think you can just Google “ quiet condos.” :happy
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by Sandtrap »

Lived in apartments and condos for many many years, sometimes even my own (worse).

Cons:
TV on the floor above with subwolfer speakers. Owner does not sleep.
Video game speakers in bedroom next door. Same wall as my master bedroom.
Military buddies upstairs. Heavy boots on the floor. All hours.
Fire station nearby.
Welfare building down the street. Flashing lights from police calls at all hours.
Door dings on my truck, tons of them.
Loud conversations going by the hallway by my front door.
Dogs barking.
Loud TV's echoing from down the hall. Front doors open and only a screen door, add barking dog, yelling parent.
City "dust" . . .it's black and sticky and is on everything.
HOA fees and other fees.
Waiting for an elevator.
Long walks to the car.
Carrying groceries and everything else.
Usually in the city or city areas, so most activities cost money, or have to travel to.
No yard.
No privacy. No solitude.
Busy.
Small square footage and number of rooms.
Limitations in what I can do.
etc
etc

Pros:
Zero maintenance. Zero yardwork.
Lock the door and feel free to travel.
Air of "community" if you need to feel that sense of security, humanity, etc.
You can make a lot of friends and have a social sphere.
If you have a "thing" or fall out of favor with others, you can't avoid them.
Very close to stores, shops, etc. Convenient.
If you have a problem or are in need, there are others to help right away.

Thus:
Prefer a quiet home on large large acreage far away from human noise and activity.
But, I can easily see the attractiveness of living in a very high end development such as a golf course townhouse in Troon in Upper Scottsdale, or an end unit penthouse in a high end condo with no units above me in a very very quiet area of town. Sort of the best of both worlds.
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michaeljc70
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by michaeljc70 »

Living in a very urban environment, I've lived in a few. They can vary greatly. Expecting everyone to be a nice, polite neighbor though would be a mistake. The biggest thing I would say is get all the meeting minutes going back a couple of years. That should give you a good idea of what is going on.

Things I've experienced (2 different associations):

-Neighbor complained I used outside water spigot (only one outside) to water the shrubs/plants I personally spent money on for an outside patio that belonged to my unit. Everyone saw it as they came in the building (greatly added to curb appeal) and the water bill was ridiculously low. This was just an unwarranted complaint as there was nothing that stated I couldn't use it, but annoying.

-Neighbor complained that someone was doing work after 7pm (per rules). I had a tiler finishing a bathroom and he ran over (like 7:30 pm). He was cutting tile in my garage and frankly making no disturbance to the neighbor 3 units over complaining.

-I built a pergola on my deck. Per my (and an attorney friend) it was within the rules. Challenged. I took it down and lost $$$$. I could have sued or made them sue, but decided it wasn't worth it. The pergola frankly made the complex look much better. Everyone else had nothing and just looked out on each other. I replaced that with 12 tall shrubs to block the view.

Many HOAs of decent size have some busybody with too much time that wants to report everything they think is even remotely against a rule.

Also, the Board can gang up on people and act in their own interests. For example, we had an exclusion about motorcycles in the ByLaws. Not allowed in garages (common driveway-noise). The Board decided to initially allow if people walked them to the gate (not follow Bylaws). Then, they got the votes to change the Bylaws to allow motorcycles through aggressive campaigning. 2 of 5 Board members had motorcycles. Money spent on lawyer to change ByLaws for their own personal reasons.
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dm200
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by dm200 »

Many HOAs of decent size have some busybody with too much time that wants to report everything they think is even remotely against a rule.
So I hear from many acquaintances with this experience.
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by MarkerFM »

delamer wrote: Thu Apr 25, 2019 6:40 pm
MarkerFM wrote: Thu Apr 25, 2019 5:14 pm Our winter home is a condo. We couldn't be happier. It literally lives like a house and is as quiet as a tomb. Only six units in each building, two per floor. Thick concrete floors and dividing wall between the units. No rentals under 90 days, and in practice none under a year happen and those only rarely. Prospective buyers are interviewed and have to submit a financial statement and undergo a background check. The neighbors are great, and we are friends with many. We have frequent social events and the amenities and service are stellar. Not cheap to buy and the association fees are pricy, but oh so worth it.
That sounds terrific!

How did you find your development? We’d certainly consider something with those qualities, but I don’t think you can just Google “ quiet condos.” :happy
Our Realtor found it. Once we saw it, we only looked at units there and stopped looking elsewhere.
delamer
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Re: Pros/Cons of Condo Living?

Post by delamer »

MarkerFM wrote: Fri Apr 26, 2019 1:13 pm
delamer wrote: Thu Apr 25, 2019 6:40 pm
MarkerFM wrote: Thu Apr 25, 2019 5:14 pm Our winter home is a condo. We couldn't be happier. It literally lives like a house and is as quiet as a tomb. Only six units in each building, two per floor. Thick concrete floors and dividing wall between the units. No rentals under 90 days, and in practice none under a year happen and those only rarely. Prospective buyers are interviewed and have to submit a financial statement and undergo a background check. The neighbors are great, and we are friends with many. We have frequent social events and the amenities and service are stellar. Not cheap to buy and the association fees are pricy, but oh so worth it.
That sounds terrific!

How did you find your development? We’d certainly consider something with those qualities, but I don’t think you can just Google “ quiet condos.” :happy
Our Realtor found it. Once we saw it, we only looked at units there and stopped looking elsewhere.
May I ask what general area it’s in?
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