Lynn's Blog

Downsizing? Shall we buy a house or a condo?


Downsizing is a very special time in a homeowner’s life. Often when people are downsizing their homes, they are coming from a large family home. The kids have moved out and the maintenance and extra space become onerous. Many people at this point in their lives are looking for more manageable space and maintenance so that they can spend more time travelling or doing other pleasurable things. There are several housing options available to downsizers in Nanaimo. The two most obvious ones are purchasing another smaller house or going into the condo market by purchasing a condo, townhouse or a patio home.

Condos come with many perks, but they are not very everyone.

Three things to consider are “what do you want to spend on a house?” “where do you want to live?” and “what is your lifestyle like?”

If you like to be outdoors and enjoy wide open spaces, then buying another home may be the way to go. If you like to be near city amenities, shopping, theatre and restaurants then a condo lifestyle might be perfect for you.

To assist you in reviewing your options here are some pro’s and cons for each style of housing:

Condos are less expensive than houses

According to Vireb (Vancouver Island Real Estate Association) the average house price was$571,905as of Feb. 29, 2020. VIREB also reported the average condo (apartment style) price as of Feb. 29, 2020 was $310,058, Townhouse was $385,138& Patio home was $447,220.

Pros of Living in a Condo

  • All exterior maintenance is generally handled by the Strata
  • A few buildings in Nanaimo have additional amenities such as a gym, meeting room, clubhouse etc.
  • Building style condos offer enhanced security such as secure entry & parking and security cameras.
  • You can get involved in the running of the Strata. You’ll have voting rights and can be elected to the Strata council if you’re interested.
  • Turnkey if you like to come and go
  • Likely your utility bills will be lower than a house and home insurance will be less as the Strata (not Bare land strata necessarily) insures the exterior of the house.

Cons of Living in a Condo

  • You could have less privacy than you would in a house
  • If you like outdoor space, then you may be limited with just a deck or patio area.
  • Most renovations require Strata approval.
  • Strata fees will be additional to mortgage payments and property taxes.
  • You’ll have little control of how and when building repairs are done.
  • If you don’t use the amenities you will still be required to pay for them.
  • Strata’s may have rules about the number and size of pets, possible age restrictions, possible rental restrictions and parking guidelines
  • Room for appreciation in value is less in a condo than in a home.
  • Share common property with other condo owners

Pros of Living in a House

  • More privacy
  • More potential to increase in value
  • There are no people living above or below your home or any shared walls
  • You can do what you like in the way of renovations and upgrades
  • More space to store your things
  • Your outdoor space will be larger

Cons of Living in a House

  • No property manager to schedule and do maintenance. It’s up to you.
  • You will need to have tools to carry out yard maintenance.
  • You’ll likely be spending more time at home doing chores and upkeep.
  • Utility bills and insurance costs will be higher

Comparing Condo and House Prices

A fair cost comparison considers the amount of a condo's strata fees upfront and adds that sum to the total cost of the house or condo. For example, a strata fee of $250 monthly is comparable to an additional $50,000 on a 30-year mortgage with a 4.5% interest rate. That extra $50,000, with those terms, would add $253.34 to a mortgage payment. (source

Finance and lifestyle choices will likely be the key factor determining the type of downsize housing option you choose.

There are many types of condos and house choices available. For further information on what’s available to you at this time in your life, please contact me.

To view all available Nanaimo listings please click the following links

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