For many Canadians, moving into in a condo is the first important step onto the property ladder. For other Canadians, moving into a condo is the first important step towards retirement. Whatever your case may be, if you’re looking for a condo in Canada, you’ll have to take these four costs of living in a condo into consideration before making an offer.
Condo fees can sometimes have a poor reputation – so poor in fact, that developers across the country advertise their properties with the words “no condo fees!” in big, bright letters. However, the money isn’t simply thrown away; the condo board uses condo fees to pay for services and amenities in the building, as well as general maintenance and insurance.
Typically, the higher the condo fees, the more amenities that are available. If you’re looking at a condo with a 24-hour concierge, full gym with on-site personal trainers, and a swimming pool with a hot tub and a sauna, you will need to pay higher condo fees to cover the cost of these perks. On the other hand, a condo that has no amenities will have small condo fees.
Most of the time, condo fees will cover property tax. If your condo association does not collect and remit your property taxes, you will be on the hook to pay them yourself. Property taxes on condos are usually lower than the taxes on stand-alone houses, but if you are moving from the suburbs to downtown Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, you might be in for a shock when the tax bill comes in.
Although condo fees include condo insurance, that insurance only covers the building and common areas. In other words, if your washing machine breaks and floods the condo beneath you, you would likely be responsible for paying for repairs. Similarly, if a guest is seriously injured in your apartment, the condo’s insurance policy would not apply. Purchasing individual condo insurance is inexpensive, protects your finances, secures your assets, and ensures your peace of mind.
Condo fees often include a lot of monthly bills that the condo board consolidates and pays all at once (usually at a bit of a discount!). This can include bills like electricity, gas, internet, cable, and phone service – the more services that are bundled, the higher the condo fees will be.
However, as mentioned above, condo fees can be seen as a negative when trying to sell a unit and some boards are opting to leave individual bills to the individual owners. If the condo you’re looking at has very low condo fees, these probably only include costs like building maintenance and condo insurance. In this case, you will need to consider the utility costs associated with living in a condo.
Whether you’re looking to downsize from your family home or are just starting out in life, condo living is the way to go. Condos provide all the benefits of homeownership at a fraction of the cost. What’s more, many condo buildings offer amenities that improve residents’ standard of living. Unfortunately, condos are not all-inclusive places to live. Like any home, there are mandatory costs of living in a condo, including condo fees, property taxes, condo insurance, and utilities.