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While it may not seem like there’s a difference between an apartment, condo, and townhouse, these are actually three different types of properties. Before you start looking for a place to live in Boston, it’s a good idea to understand the differences between these three types of properties.

Apartments

When you start looking for an apartment in Boston, you will be looking for a rental property owned by someone else. You won’t be the owner of this type of property, and you’ll be limited by the lease you sign.

Most apartments are found in multi-family buildings, large complexes, or larger residential buildings. Sometimes, you can find an apartment as a part of a single-family home, but these are rare.

Apartments provide an option for those looking to get to know a neighborhood before buying a home or condo. With an apartment, you’ll likely sign a one-year lease, and some may even offer shorter lease terms.

One of the main advantages of choosing an apartment is deferred maintenance. You don’t have to deal with any of the maintenance. If something breaks, the landlord is responsible for the repairs.

Renting an apartment usually means you’re paying for the convenience of not dealing with maintenance. It also allows you to live in a neighborhood without investing in your own property until you’re ready. Many first-time homebuyers start in an apartment while they are saving for a down payment and getting their finances in order to buy.

Condominium

Condos in Boston

A condo or condominium is very similar to an apartment, but you won’t be renting. They look pretty much the same from the outside, but a condo is owned by an individual. While some condos may be rented, they are not usually rented in the same manner as an apartment.

Just as you would with a regular home, you can build equity in a condo. As you make your mortgage payments and the unit goes up in value, you will gain equity within the property.

Condos are typically managed, and unit owners will pay an HOA or condo fee each month or year. This fee helps to cover the maintenance of the entire building, along with landscaping and the cost of amenities. If you do find a condo for rent, it will likely come from the condo owner, not the building owner or the developer.

Compared to apartments, condos often have more amenities and better features. They are usually updated more often as they are more like a home. Even an older condo will likely be updated before it’s put up for sale.

In addition, owners have more say over the features and updates they do to their individual unit. With an apartment, you’ll have no say, but with a condo, you have all the say, as long as you follow the rules set forth by the HOA or condo association.

Townhouse

Townhouse in Boston

The closest of these three properties to a single-family home is the townhouse. Townhouses are not detached, however. They are a part of a multi-unit complex and will share walls with neighbors.

One of the major differences between townhouse and condos/apartments is the number of stories. While it’s possible to find a penthouse apartment or condo with more than one story, townhouses almost always come with two floors.

Usually, the first floor will include the living room, dining room, and kitchen, while the second floor will include the bedrooms. You may even find a townhouse with three or more floors, and some townhouses come with basements for storage.

Just as condos have an HOA, townhouses often have an HOA, as well. You will own the townhouse, as well, which makes them even more like a condo than an apartment. Of course, you may find a townhouse for rent, but you will be renting from the owner, not the management or development company, in most cases.

When you understand the differences between an apartment, condo, and townhouse, it makes it a bit easier to narrow down what you’re looking for. While all three could be rented, the most common rental of the three is the apartment. Typically, you will get financing through a mortgage, put money down, and go through a similar process to buying a single-family home when you buy a condo or a townhouse.

Just as some neighborhoods have homeowner’s associations, condos and townhouses will also have HOAs. It’s important to have a clear picture of what you’re looking for and what it will provide. By understanding the differences between apartments, condos, and townhouses, you’ll be better equipped to start your home search in Boston.

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