As you age, don’t be surprised if you find yourself thinking of ways to escape the drudgery of maintaining your home. After 40 years or so of mowing, raking, trimming, sweeping, and scooping, people tire of all that yard maintenance. Who wants to be working in the yard when he/she could be playing tennis, seeing a movie, taking a trip, or writing the great American novel?

If you decide to join the ranks of those who prefer condo living, you will need to do some condo shopping. An important part of that condo shopping is understanding maintenance fees and guidelines of the condo complex.

Calculating Your Current Home Maintenance Costs

Since you will most likely be paying maintenance fees to live in a condo, it is wise to add up current costs of maintaining your yard/home and compare the total to the condo/association fees you will pay. Don’t be surprised that when the topic of paying maintenance fees for a condo arises in conversations with friends/family/co-workers, you might hear something like, “It’s stupid to pay all the condo fees, it’s not worth it.”

No doubt about it, people making such comments most likely have not done the “homework” (adding up their current maintenance costs). In essence, they are uninformed about maintenance fees in general and what they include, which does vary among condo associations. Also, some people don’t consciously keep watch over their finances or budget their money. Literally, they may have no idea what they ARE spending to maintain their homes. Such negative comments regarding condo association fees could also indicate the person making the comments may not take care of their current property so, of course, can’t imagine paying a fee to actually take care of/maintain a property in its best condition.

For most who do the exercise of compiling current maintenance costs, they will find that they are already spending a reasonable amount of money to take care of their current homes PLUS their own time and labor to do the tasks. The beauty of moving in to a condo (or having one as a vacation home) is that you won’t be doing the grunt work. Much of what you will be paying for in your maintenance fees are labor costs to pay the salaries of those who do.

Possible Inclusions in Condo Maintenance Fees

Part of the homeowners’ insurance (for the exterior walls of the property) is included in monthly maintenance fees at some condo complexes, as well as maintenance of the outside of the buildings, cable television charges and water usage. Any difference between home maintenance costs and proposed condo maintenance fees can be considered costs to do the labor. Remember, you won’t be doing any of these tasks anymore so someone must be paid to do them at the condo complex.

Condo Rules and Regulations

When you are seriously considering buying a condo, your realtor will most likely provide you with a website where you can read the condo’s regulations. Reading the manual is a must before purchasing any condo property. Take notes regarding any questions you have or anything you don’t understand in the rules and regulations. Your realtor will provide the contact information for condo association board members who you can call to discuss your concerns. If you decide to buy a condo, you must follow the rules/regulations as a resident in the condo complex.

Note to people who question every rule, whine or complain frequently, just don’t like following rules, or have problems with authority figures: don’t purchase a condo. Yes, even you must follow the rules established by the board should you buy and move in to a condo. If you can’t trust there are reasons certain rules are established for the masses, then condo living is not for you.

For those who are simply a little less sure about having rules to follow in your “neighborhood,” remind yourself that what you are purchasing is more leisure time for you (and your partner if you have one). Doing so may require you to follow some fairly simple and reasonable rules. For those who truly seek freedom from the costs, time and energy required to maintain an expanse of outdoor, physical property, respecting the condo property’s guidelines is a small price to pay for the amenities and convenience you receive.

And don’t forget, the rules and regulations are most likely set up and maintained by a governing board largely made up of condo residents. This means that you can most likely become active on the board to assure you have a say in various issues that arise related to your condo complex.


Condo maintenance costs, rules and regulations can serve as real deterrents for people shopping for a condo. Take time to get familiar with your own home maintenance expenditures. Then, compare them with prospective condo maintenance fees, keeping in mind you will be paying labor fees to maintain the outside of the condo property. Be sure to jot down your questions and contact an officer of the condo association to get answers about the condo association’s rules and regulations. When you feel comfortable with your understanding of how the complex operates, you will be ready to purchase the carefree lifestyle you seek.