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Single-Family Home or Condo: Which is Best for You?

Pets, parking, privacy, and more can affect your decision.

buying a single family home or condo view of colorful condo building with patios overlooking courtyard with bicycles and green trees
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Contributed By

This article was contributed by financial expert and blogger Mary Beth Storjohann, CFP(r), author, speaker, and founder of Workable Wealth. She provides financial coaching for individuals and couples in their 20s to 40s across the country, helping them make smart, educated choices with their money.

Congratulations. You’re ready to start thinking about your first home purchase! Depending on your budget, lifestyle, and appetite for responsibilities, you could be debating whether to buy a single-family home or a condo. Here are some considerations help you choose.


How much space do you need now and over the next few years? A two-bedroom condo could work great today. But if you foresee growing your family, working from home, or having frequent guests, space could quickly get tight.

Consider how you, your family, and your career might have changing needs over the next three to five years when you determine how much square footage you need. 

Homeowners Associations

Depending on the area you purchase in and the year of the build, your single-family home may come with homeowners association dues, just like the condo you’re considering. Find out what the dues cover and how often and how much they’re adjusted. Be sure you’re OK with a lack of control over annual increases.


Many cities have firm restrictions and permits for pets. Even if you own your condo, you may still have to follow strict HOA rules governing pets. Research the requirements ahead of time, determine if pets are limited or restricted, and decide how important these limits are to your home purchase choice. 

Related: 4 Ways to Make Fido Happy in Your New Home


If you’re looking at a single-family home, consider who will take care of the yard, pool, roof, and more. How much home maintenance do you want to manage yourself or hire out to someone else? If you’re looking for minimal maintenance and time commitment, a condo or townhome may be a better option.

Related: 7 Home Hacks That Make Maintenance Easier


If your style is city living and you want to walk to dining options and activities, a condo is likely your best option. Make sure you’re willing to sacrifice square footage for your preferred location. 

Related: How to Choose a Neighborhood


If you’re looking for a private garage for your vehicles and want to avoid underground structures or parking on the street or in the open, a single-family home will better suit your needs. 


Do you like privacy and peace and quiet? Are you OK with hearing a neighbor through the walls or someone overhearing a spat between you and your spouse? Depending on the amount of privacy you want, a shared backyard fence may be better for you than a shared dining room wall.

Future Rental Plans for Your Home

If this is a home you anticipate turning into a rental property, figure out how much rent you could get at current rates. Be sure to calculate whether it’ll cover added-in costs like HOA dues, insurance, and maintenance.

Type of Mortgage

Planning to put less than 20% down on your new home? You might consider a Federal Housing Administration loan. The FHA is a government-backed agency that assists home buyers with mortgages and uses loan qualifiers lower than the ones independent mortgage outlets require.

Purchasing a condo unit with an FHA loan requires the FHA to approve both the lender and the condo community. You can determine if the property you’re looking at is FHA approved by searching on the HUD website

Whether you opt for a single-family home or a condo, do your research and pick the home type that's compatible with your budget and lifestyle. The numbers matter with a purchase this big, but so does your comfort. Don’t settle for less than what you'll enjoy.

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Author photo of Mary Beth Storjohann
Mary Beth Storjohann

Mary Beth Storjohann founder of financial planning company Workable Wealth, makes frequent appearances on NBC as a financial expert and is a contributor to major media outlets such as “Forbes” and “U.S. News & World Report.”