A condominium is a form of home ownership in which individual units of a larger complex are sold, not rented. These units may be renovated apartments, townhouses or even commercial warehouses. Any multi-unit structure can 'go condominium', meaning occupants must either vacate the premises or purchase their apartments outright.
Those who purchase units in a condo technically own everything from their walls inward. All of the individual homeowners have shared rights to most common areas, such as the elevators, hallways, pools and club houses. Maintenance of these areas becomes the responsibility of an association. Every owner owns a share of interest in the association, plus an obligation to pay monthly dues or special assessment fees for larger maintenance problems.
A condominium arrangement is not the best option for every potential homeowner. There can be a noticeable lack of privacy in the common areas — the pool must be shared with every other owner, for example. Those who would prefer to own all of their amenities and maintain their own lawn and garden may want to pursue single home ownership options instead. It can also be more difficult to sell a condo unit as opposed to a home with acreage. Condo owners only own their units, not the ground beneath them.
Those who may benefit the most from condominium living are veteran apartment renters who don't mind having close neighbors. Others may not want to be bothered with external maintenance or the responsibility of lawn care. The overall price of a condo-style townhouse may be much lower than an equivalent single-unit home. Buying a unit does allow equity to build, unlike paying monthly rent in an apartment complex.
One thing to be aware of when living in a condominium setting is the political reality of an owners' association. Decisions may be made in monthly meetings which will cost individual owners more money, but not necessarily deliver equal benefits for all. It can be nearly impossible to avoid being affected by at least one condo board decision, so active participation in meetings and discussions may be more compulsory than you might expect. Condo living may be more advantageous financially than apartment rentals, but it does require more active participation in community events.