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Condos vs. Houses in DC: A Design Comparison

For such a small area, Washington DC packs a big punch. Within this compact capital city, there is a thriving culture, great attractions, and some of the most beautiful historic architecture the country has to offer.

These are just a few reasons why so many people flock to this city and want to live in one of the thriving neighborhoods. Each with their own personality, DC neighborhoods host several housing options.

image - Condos vs. Houses in DC: A Design Comparison
Condos vs. Houses in DC: A Design Comparison

So what’s the best choice for living in The District? Condos or houses in DC? Here is the comparison of two of Washington’s most popular options.

Difference Between Condos and Houses

It’s essential to know the difference between condos and houses before you start looking in any real estate market, but especially DC. Since this small city is packed with housing, both options are readily available, but the two are very different.

Houses are an option you probably know much about. Often called single-family homes, there are endless options for shape, size, and style. They can be detached, meaning they don’t share a wall with another home or the opposite, attached.


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Typically, houses offer more room, multiple stories, and outdoor spaces like yards and patios.

Condos are like an apartment-house mix. They are single units that reside in a larger building. So like an apartment, you may have neighbors next to, above, and below you.

But unlike an apartment, you will own a condo the way you own a house.

This offers some benefits of apartment living, especially amenities like parking, security, exterior maintenance, pools, and gyms.

However, condos and houses do have one similarity. A feature of both is individual ownership, which means when you sign the papers to buy a condo or a house, you are the sole owner.

This allows for a lot more flexibility than apartment living, especially in terms of renovations and remodels.

The difference is that house owners own the land around the house as well as the structure, but condo owners only own the unit, not the larger building.

Both houses and condos offer unique benefits, so neither is better than the other. It comes down to what your needs are and what perks or extras you want from your home.

Types of Housing in DC

Washington DC may only be 68 square miles, but it packs a large variety of housing options. Condo vs. co-op, row homes vs. townhomes, and so much more.

Here are all the types of housing you can live in if you plan to move to The District.

Condos

While apartments are the most common type of housing in Washington DC, if you’re looking to buy but still want amenities, a condo is the way to go. The building styles vary from historic charm to sleek and modern.

Live stylishly in buildings like the Madrigal Lofts that boast tall ceilings, designer kitchens, and oversized windows.

Co-Ops

Many people may confuse a co-op with a condo. A co-op is a housing unit that is jointly owned by a group of individuals. These individuals have equal shares in the housing community.

However, you don’t technically own your unit, but rather you would own shares of the housing community relative to the size of your unit.

This process helps lower the cost of all the services and maintenance that come with owning a home.

Single-Family Homes

Detached single-family homes are not common in major cities. But this is actually the second most common housing in Washington, DC. However, this number doesn’t reflect detached homes exclusively, rather homes with the square footage for family.

Detached homes also often come with a caveat in Washington, DC. You can find these homes in the more suburban areas of the city.

While still in the city limits, these areas are further away from attractions like bars, restaurants, and museums.

Row homes and Townhouses

These two terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference. Rowhouses are compact, attached dwellings that line city streets and typically have a common facade.

Townhouses are often grouped in a development plan.

Within the city and throughout DC’s many neighborhoods, you’ll find a lot more rowhouses. They’re conveniently located within walking distance of most attractions. More often, you’ll find more townhouse developments outside of DC.

So What’s the Vertical?

DC is full of diversity of many kinds, but especially of housing. Every neighborhood has its own personality and a variety of housing to experience it.

So where should you choose to live: a condo or a house in DC?

There isn’t one right answer as to which housing option you should choose to live in.

One of the best reasons for living in a large city like DC is that there are many options and therefore, there’s something for everyone.

When deciding on which housing type to move into, it’s essential that you weigh your wants and needs before settling on a house or condo.

Keep in mind how much space you need and how close you want to be in the city center.

If you want some of the perks of an apartment community, then a condo is probably for you. But if you’d rather have a home and a little more room to spread out, detached home in the suburban areas is your best bet.

But if you want to combine the convenience of living right in the heart of the city but having a home you can spread out in, one of DC’s historic row homes might be the answer.

Choosing where to live is a highly personal choice only you can make. That’s the best way to make a house your home.

The Best Houses in DC

Washington, DC is rich with history, charm, and culture. And that’s what makes it such a popular area that many are flocking to live in.

Each neighborhood in the District offers its own personality for residents to discover.

Though the area may be small, the housing options are abundant. And with so many options for living in this bustling city, knowing all the differences and benefits of condos and houses in DC are essential.

With this knowledge, living and exploring the capital city will be much more enjoyable.

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