The Boomer's Dream - A No Hassle Condo

By
Education & Training with House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada

This makes me think of The Man of La Mancha - The Impossible Dream.  While condo dwelling is highly unlikely to be as unpalatable as living in Don Quixote's dungeon, it may not live up to the expectations of the carefree living the Boomer is hoping to obtain. 

When retirement finally arrives, many Boomers have plans to spend time traveling, reading, relaxing by a pool, maybe fishing and spending weeks every year at a cottage.  Having the big suburban home AND having the freedom to live the nomadic life may not be compatible objectives.  This is when the Boomer starts dreaming of moving to a condo.  Boomers were brought up to be owners.  Condos are a type if shared ownership.  Just remember, condos were not likely in existence when the Boomer was an apartment renter and just starting out on his or her own.  Some things are going to be a surprise. 

In life, there are always trade-offs and compromises.  The attraction of a condo is to have the freedom to close your door and take off for months without worrying about your home, to never have to mow the lawn or water the flowers, to have the exterior of your home maintained and to share in the costs of the common parts of the property.  The downside is:

  • You do not have complete control on the costs.  The condo board and members (of which each owner is a member) vote on the expenditures.  So, if you decide you no longer will be using the pool and you know that it cost a lot of money to insure and maintain, you do not have the sole right to close the pool.  When the roof needs immediate replacing, SURPRISE, unless there is an adequate reserve fund, you too will be have to pay for the roof through a special assessment. 
  • You do not get to pick your neighbours.  What happens if they are loud or play the drums, or have parties every Friday night, or cook weird smelling food?  Those neighbours are owners like you so the dispute is between the two (there is no landlord to impose rules and resolve issues).
  • You do not make all the rules.  Some condos won't allow pets or smoking or Christmas lights or hardwood floors or renovation work after 4:00PM or......  etc etc.  Those rules are written in the by-laws.  Check those rules before buying BUT also be prepared for new rules to be voted in at the Annual General Meeting.
  • You do not have a landlord to check your unit when you are away.  In fact, there is no one to let you in if you have lost your keys.  Who is the property manager?  Can you get ahold of them at 1:00AM when you are locked out?  Do you have friends who will look in your unit while you are away?  Check your insurance, a vacated unit still needs to be checked to keep the insurance active. 
  • You do not have control over the common elements. If family and friends come to visit, where are they going to park?  You only have so many assigned / purchased parking spots and the visitor parking will, in all likelihood, have limitations of who can park and for how long.  Hate the decorating in the lobby?  This is not something you can take over.  Want more outdoor seating?  Take it to the Board. 
  • You cannot control the value of the condo.    Not only are condos subject to market forces but the value of your building or complex is going to be based on the condition of the property - inside the unit (which you control) and outside (which the owners control).  Buyers are going to look at special assessments, the engineering reports and the condition of the roof, windows, HVAC, etc.  These have not all been within our control. 

After living in a suburban home with the independence of total ownership, condo living trades some of this for additional freedoms and peace of mind for not having to be personally responsible for the property. 

Don't tilt at the windmills.  Make sure that you see the windmill and not your dreams   

Photo credit:  Windmill

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Rainmaker
192,092
Atlanta's Home Inspector, David Lelak IHI Home Inspections
IHI Home Inspections 404-788-2581 - Canton, GA
Experience the IHI Difference

Great information and very well written! I agree, for some it is difficult to "give up" their freedoms of owning a home. However, there is less upkeep.  Good and challenging sum it up.

Jan 12, 2012 01:12 PM #8
Rainmaker
575,417
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

David and Bonnie:  The freedom that is available through condo ownership does have its costs.  I hope this post pointed out some of the things to take into consideration.

Jan 12, 2012 01:33 PM #9
Rainmaker
279,850
Gail C. Harris
Resource Network, LLC SFR, AHWD, ACRE, SMAR Board Director - Chesapeake Beach, MD
Reach the BEACH with Gail C. Harris (cell: 703.868

Very clever, today I'm feeling like this would be a GGGGGGGGGRRRRRRREEEEAAAAAT idea!! LOL

 

Jan 12, 2012 02:32 PM #10
Rainmaker
447,865
Malcolm Johnston
Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario - Trenton, ON
Trenton Real Estate

Valerie, as with everything there are pros and cons to condo living. this morning while shovelling my drive way and scraping the ice from my car I could have listed off a good number of positive things about condo living.

Jan 12, 2012 02:49 PM #11
Rainmaker
575,417
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Gail:  condo living is not for everyone.  The least flexible people are the ones with the hardest time dealing with neighbours.  

Jan 12, 2012 07:25 PM #12
Rainmaker
575,417
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Malcolm. What a horrible day for driving.  Was that you skating on your driveway ice?  LOL.  Btw. tintin was such a good movie.  I look forward to the next one. 

Jan 12, 2012 07:27 PM #13
Rainmaker
405,420
Ellen Caruso
Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty - Glen Head, NY

Valerie, It takes a good look at your life, health, family, and dollars, and thats how decisions are made, what we need and can handle as well as afford! I hope When its my turn, I have the ability to choose rather than someone decide for me.

Jan 12, 2012 10:03 PM #14
Rainer
167,129
Edward Gilmartin
Boston Homes - Boston, MA

Some condos in Florida restrict who you can sell to (must be a certain age) and also restrict who you can rent to and lease length etc. A lot of children inherit these condos and are forced to sell them on the cheap since they can not rent them , can not live in them and are forced to sell to a limited market.

Jan 13, 2012 08:33 AM #15
Rainmaker
575,417
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Ellen. Me too.  We all hope for dignity and independence as we age.  

 

Edward.  This is another thing for Boomers to think about when they buy that condo / home in an active adult community.  It may not be a legacy for their children.  Thank you for adding to this post.  

Jan 13, 2012 08:55 AM #16
Rainmaker
895,504
Brian Madigan
RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto) - Toronto, ON
LL.B., Broker

Valerie,

It a lifestyle and it's not for everyone. It's tough to pick the ones that are well-managed.

Brian

Jan 13, 2012 11:30 PM #17
Rainer
167,129
Edward Gilmartin
Boston Homes - Boston, MA

The condos that are not well managed are pretty easy to find...just look at the common areas and the state of the complex in general.

Jan 14, 2012 09:32 AM #18
Rainmaker
575,417
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Brian:  There are some things that can help narrow the field like the engineering report and the Condo by-laws.  After that....  like buying in the burbs, it is a bit of a gamble.

Edwared:  Now, that is a valid point.  I liked showing condos with clean grounds, hallways, shovelled sidewalks and mowed lawns.  All of this comes at a price but, to me, worth it.  

Jan 14, 2012 10:00 AM #19
Rainer
25,537
Bill Cullen
REMAX Absolute Realty Inc. - Ottawa, ON

Valerie,

Condo living is not all it's cracked up to be, that's for sure. I can attest to it from personal experience. We had a condo in the Byward Market for 3 and 1/2 years before we headed back to suburbs. I have spoken to clients who were thinking about the condo lifestyle and I say to them "Have you considered  ......?"

 

Jan 14, 2012 03:47 PM #20
Rainmaker
572,323
Chris Smith
Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage - New Tecumseth, ON
South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta

Great advice Valerie,  I know many people who love their condo living, and have dealt with a few that hated it, and had to move to regain some of the "trade-offs" they gave up.

Jan 14, 2012 07:26 PM #21
Rainmaker
575,417
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Bill.  I read your comment to the Mr. Who has dreams of one day living in the Market.  Think we will stay in the Civic Hospital area and just enjoy what we have.  

 

Chris.  Condo livingor trying to maintain your suburban home both have hassles.  It is all about trade-offs and having realistic expectations.  

Jan 15, 2012 06:31 AM #22
Rainer
176,340
Jark Krysinski
REMAX CREST REALTY WESTSIDE - Vancouver, BC
TeamYVR Team Leader, BA,ABR,IRES,IMSD,LLB

Valirie, I just read one of the most important articles. My friend, thanks for sharing this. The points are direct and useful. We can get a lot of information from your post!

Jan 16, 2012 03:15 PM #23
Rainmaker
575,417
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Jark.  I am happy that you like the post.

Jan 16, 2012 07:02 PM #24
Rainer
176,340
Jark Krysinski
REMAX CREST REALTY WESTSIDE - Vancouver, BC
TeamYVR Team Leader, BA,ABR,IRES,IMSD,LLB

Mornign Valerie, great post! Thanks for sharing these direct and useful information with us! Best wishes!

Jan 18, 2012 02:12 PM #25
Ambassador
405,781
Jo-Anne Smith
Oakville, ON

Valerie,

I'm with Malcolm on this one. Big advantage of condo living is underground heated parking (well, not to be found in all condos, but in many).
I also love the feeling of safety condo living affords....especially good for women living on their own.

Jo

Jan 20, 2012 07:07 AM #26
Rainmaker
575,417
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Jo-Anne.  I know if I was single I would not want the full responsability for the house and all of the maintenance.  Yes, there are trade-offs but they can be worth it.  

Jan 20, 2012 07:43 AM #27
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Valerie Zinger

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