Home maintenance vs. condo maintenance

I am busy single professional who does not have time for home maintenance. I was thinking about buying a condo, but homeowner's dues are pretty substantial in the condos I am looking at, which would seem to greatly decrease the advantage of buying over renting.
What I am thinking about doing is just buying a house and paying for maintenance of the grounds (and exterior if needed). This would still be substantially cheaper than the $500-800 homeowners dues monthly I am looking at. Does this seem like a reasonable alternative for someone like me who just does not have the time to do maintenance?
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If you get your own home, you will be able to install a low maintenance yard/landscaping. (Stay away from areas with a homeowners association.) Also you will have the option of hiring a neighborhood kid to keep things up for you. If you need to water, you can get automatic sprinklers.
But even if you hire a professional yard service, I can't imagine it would cost as much as the condo fees are.
I'm quite happy owning my own home rather than renting. I can do with my house and yard as I please.
"Jeff Bello" wrote in message

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Chances are that middle age will make you want to cut back on your work hours, and when that happens, you may find that you enjoy working on your own place. There's a lot to be said for wanting to plant nothing but shocking red flowers for an entire season, no matter what the neighbors think. As far as maintenance, lawn mowing is probably the most time consuming thing that MUST be done regularly. Do you go to a gym now? Do you spend any time on the treadmill or stairmaster? Buy wraparound leg weights and mow the lawn.
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$500 - $800 does seem high. In both areas I've looked at condos, about half of that range was normal. I'm paying $250 now.
I've got similar priorities as you; as much as I do enjoy tinkering with my new place, I also enjoy other things, and work a decent amount these days.
Other things to think about - condos supposedly are the first to feel the effects of a slowing in the RE market. I think that may be more true for areas where SFHs are the norm - a condo development lost in suburbia for example - but less true for higher-developed areas and cities.
A simple test: look at the header lines here, and mentally separate them into "indoor" and "outdoor" concerns. More than half seem to be "outdoor" to me!
I split the difference, kind of: bought a condo in "cosmetic fixer" condition. I've been having lots of fun tinkering, on the immediate-reward kind of improvements. But, working alone sure does go slow (the boyfriend is on an extended home visit).
Houses just have a lot more needs. Of course that all depends on what you buy; and in either case you'll pay $$$ for turn-key beauty.
Just my $0.02, adjusted by Mr. Greenspan, JSH
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Jeff Bello wrote:

This has been my strategy for more than two decades. It works for me. My total cost over the year for cable tv, city water, trash pickup, landscaping and lawn services, pool service, painting, screen repairs, etc. is less than the equivalent cost at a large condo complex with the same 'quality of life', and I don't have to hassle with shared parking, noisy upstairs neighbors, etc. I was fortunate to find a group of stable contractors that I can rely on. You should consider looking for a property management company that can assist you in finding / managing the contractor pool.
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Jeff Bello wrote:

Good grief!!!!!! 500-800 per month??????? Where is this - oceanside in La Jolla? We pay $265/month, which is by far the highest in our area. It depends entirely on the Association/board, condition of property and amenities. If you are serious about buying into an expense like that, make sure a good deal of it goes to reserves. Got roads to pave? Gated/guards to pay? Tennis courts, pools, golf course? In any homeowner/condo association, I'd review the records carefully and speak with some owners about past problems and how things work. You can buy a lot of grief if they have condo commandos on the board, lots of legal issues or big maintenance problems.
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On 24 May 2004 09:17:10 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Jeff Bello) wrote:

1) Where the heck do you live with $500-800 monthly homeowner's dues?
2) Buying always beats renting, when you're done renting you have nothing to show for your payments.
3) Go for it. Buy new for the best ease of maintenance.
Jeff
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(Jeff Bello)

It sounds to me like the OP was looking at CO-OPs not condos. In NJ, a CO-op sells for less than half a comparable condo, but the monthly fees are 3x as much. I don't know the logistics of what a co-op is, but that's what I have seen. Typical condos that sell in the 100-225k area have a monthly fee of about 100-200 per month.
Bobby
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