A Condo is More Than Buying Four Walls

You’re moving into a condo – an experience unlike any other. While some may be of the belief that a condo is a condo is a condo, this is simply not the case. After all, buying a condo is different than renting an apartmentor living in a house with a yard of your own. You’re more invested in the building itself, in the community that you’re moving into, and in your neighbours who share your walls.

When deciding on the type of condo to buya unit in, there are a few items you may want to consider.

Community Culture

While finding out the exact culture of the building may be difficult with respect to who lives in the building, there are a few work-arounds you can proactively take to get an idea of what living in a specific condominium would be like.

  • Condo Management Company
    Research the individual condo management company responsible for managing the building. Look for reviews of the company, particularly those that highlight the type of service delivery they offer the buildings they manage as this will give you insight into the type of service your potential condo building receives.
  • Bylaws
    While you most likely won’t be able to review the bylaws before you put a deposit down, we highly recommend adding a condition on your offer – similar to that of obtaining financing or passing a property inspection – that you are allowed to review the bylaws. Your Realtor will be able to help guide you with this condition and in understanding the bylaws themselves.
  • Community of the area
    While learning the community of the area may not give you all the insight into the culture of your building, it will give you an idea of the type of people who live in your area. For instance, the demographic of those living in the community of Mission will be quite different than those in the Renfrew community.


If you’re downsizing from a house to a condo, avoid being shocked by the smaller space you now have. To prepare yourself for what living in a condo unit is like, mask off a certain section of your home that is the size of space you’re looking to live in now. This will help you gain an understanding of what type of layout you’ll be most comfortable in, how much downsizing you’ll have to do, and help you mentally adjust to a different type of living space. Doing this will make it easier for you to imagine what living in a certain space will be like, helping you to smoothly transition from a larger property into a smaller one.

Building’s Foundation

Not all buildings are built the same and the type of foundation your building has can affect your peace of mind. For instance, buildings with a concrete foundation are typically more sound resistant than those built with a timber one. Meaning? You won’t be able to hear your neighbours or hallway activity as much as you would in a wood foundation.

In addition, note the flooring policy in your condo bylaws to see what type of flooring is or is not allowed in the building. Do they allow condo unit owners to have hardwood or tile throughout their entire unit or are there certain rooms that must have carpet (e.g. bedrooms) to ensure a level of noise reduction? This will help you in determining how much noise you’ll hear through your shared walls and whether this is going to be an issue for you or not.

Condo Community Mind Set

If you haven’t lived in condos or multi-living housing, expect an adjustment to living with neighbours that are stacked on and beside you. This isn’t meant to scare you, but merely help you manage your expectations that living in a multi-unit home may be different than anywhere else you’ve lived before.

Buy with the mind set of looking to positively create and maintain relationships with your neighbours as they will most likely have an impact of your quality of life.

If you discover that you’re not happy with the type of environment in the building, then be proactive in changing it. For instance, you can become engaged and active with the board; you can offer to host community events in the building’s community room; send a “new to the building” welcome to your neighbors; the sky’s the limit to how you can get involved.

While you may know the exact type of condo unit you want to live in, it’s just as important to consider the overall condo building and community of the area. Determine how you will adjust both to the actual condo itself from a space and shared wall aspect and how you will adjust to the larger community around you. In understanding these aspects, you’ll gain clarity on the type of condo building you want to live in.

Still curious about how to decide what type of condo building to live in? Join the conversation at Alberta Condo Owners for Change and ask away!