What is the Difference Between an Apartment and Condo in Canada?

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When I was told that I could choose between living in a condo or an apartment, I was baffled. I had no idea what the difference was, and when I asked people, everyone gave me a slightly different answer. 

So I wanted other newcomers to Canada like you to avoid getting into the same situation as I did as a renter.  So, let’s talk about housing in Canada. What makes a condo a condo, and what makes an apartment an apartment?

The cost of renting an apartment or a condo

The amount of money that you will have to pay to rent an apartment or condo in Canada will vary quite wildly from city to city. Also, where you settle when you arrive in Canada is perhaps the most critical decision you will have to make, so do your research and choose wisely. Still, there is not a dramatic difference between the rent you will have to pay for a condo versus an apartment.  


A condo will typically cost slightly more because there are amenities in the building.  Amenities can range from a small gym and library to a deluxe fitness centre and swimming pool.  Plus, if you're working from home, a condo building may have a boardroom or party room where you can work.


Utilities are often included in the rental amount of a condo, so you should certainly ask about that when negotiating.  You may also be surprised that the apartment may be pretty basic but that the condo has more personal flourishes courtesy of the owner.  This is because condos are more likely to have been lived in by your landlord at some point, so there may have been some upgrades over time.

What else is there to consider?

Condos are run by an elected board of condo owners (and a property manager), so there are well-defined rules and regulations for owners and tenants (plus there is accountability: the property manager reports to the board). Apartments are typically run by a property manager who answers only to the company that owns the apartment building.

With a condo rental, you'll likely rent directly from the landlord (condo owner) and pay them; with an apartment (in a building), you'll rent from a corporation and pay directly to them. Both will likely a credit history check and will ask for the first and last month's rent. 

Condos typically come with a parking space owned by the condo owner. It could be included in the rental price but may likely be extra. Many apartment buildings offer a mix of above and below-ground parking which is generally part of the rental price.

Both condo and apartment (or multifamily) buildings require tenant insurance, so you should factor that into your budget for accommodation in Canada. It's essential for newcomers to understand why most landlords require tenant insurance, even if you're renting a basement apartment. 


You should try not to get too hung up on whether you want to live in a condo or an apartment; instead, you should focus on the individual units that you have viewed, their affordability and their location.  As with any house hunt, you will know when you find the right one for you.  

There are also several things that newcomers to Canada can do to impress Canadian landlords in what is an increasingly competitive rental market. 

It is essential that you do not waste any time when you are deciding to apply to rent either a condo or apartment unit.  Rental units will often go quite quickly, so you need to be sure that you are the one to get the unit you like the most.


Housing costs for newcomers remain low in Edmonton

What newcomers need to know about insurance in Canada

The pros and cons of basement apartments

Renting without a credit history

Finding a temporary home upon arriving in Canada

Amy Zahran is a writer for Prepare for Canada

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