difference: condominium [condo], apartment

Discussion in 'English Only' started by guesswho, Nov 28, 2005.

  1. guesswho New Member

    Spanish SPAIN
    What's the difference between "Condo" (condominium) and "Apartment"?
  2. Aupick

    Aupick Senior Member

    Strasbourg, France
    UK, English
    I've been informed by a number of Americans that 'condo' is what you call an 'apartment' that you own, and that an 'apartment' is the same thing if you rent. (Condos tend to be more upscale, therefore.)

    Let's see if this forum's American's agree...
  3. cantante Senior Member

    Germany, German, English, Spanish

    I found the following definition in our dictionary:
    housing consisting of a complex of dwelling units (as an apartment house) in which each unit is individually owned
  4. el alabamiano Senior Member

  5. GenJen54

    GenJen54 Senior Member

    Downright Pleasant, USA
    USA - English
    The link el_alabamiano provided sums up my experience exactly.

    I live in a condominium, which I "purchased" about four years ago. In addition to my mortgage, I must also pay monthy dues to our Homeowners' Association, which pays for insurance, the night security guard, landscaping, and pool maintenance, etc.

    We also have to follow certain rules in our community regarding any upgrades made to our individual units, type and size of pets, etc.

    In our complex, however, several people own condos which they use as investment / rental property. As such, they "rent" their units out to other people.

    I would not necessarily say that this complex is "upscale," but it is nicer than most apartment complexes. Condos in large cities, especially those in skyrises, are much more upscale than I think where I live, which is fairly "middle of the road."
  6. pasitoo Senior Member

    <Pasitoo's thread has been merged with an earlier thread>

    Hi all, I have a question,

    I live in an apartment building, but I have the ownership of the unit that I'm living in. But everytime when I was asked question like "what kind of place do u you live in", I was always confused what to answer.

    To Americans, if I anwered "I live in an apartment", meaning that I rent it, but that's not true. But certainly I guess I can't answer "I live in a condo". Because I'm not living in the US. wouldn't it be funny that a person lives in a condo outside the US.?

    To English people I have no idea...guess apartment/flat means a place that you either rent or own?

    I'll appreciate for your answer:)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2013
  7. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    You could just say that you "own an apartment" in AE.
  8. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    In BrE you can live in a flat that you own - it doesn't automatically mean you rent. Apartment is not used in BrE to refer to flats.
  9. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    Pasitoo, if you said "I live in an apartment" to an American, the American would not understand this to mean that you rent the unit instead of owning it. It would be understood to mean what it says: that you live in an apartment, which is true; no suggestion is being made about who owns the apartment. In the same way, to say "I own an apartment" says nothing about whether you live in it or not.

    If you want to be very exact when you answer the question "What kind of place do you live in?", you can say "I live in an apartment that I own."
  10. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    Keep in mind that there is no "universal" English. In this case, you'll have to decide whether you want to use the BrE or the AmE term. As JulianStuart explained, BrE does not use "apartment" in this context, while AmE does not use the word "flat", so it all depends on your audience.

    GWB is right, by the way. I don't think "apartment" has any inherent connotation of being a rental unit.
  11. wanabee Senior Member

    Dear all,

    I guess that an apartment and a condo could refer to the same type of unit in a building.
    I'm confused about their differences.
    I understand from the above discussion that "I live in an apartment" doesn't tell whether I own it or rent it.
    Then if I say "I live in a condo", would it imply that I live in a unit that I purchased and not I rented?

    I would appreciate any comments.
  12. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Correct. If you live in an apartment, you might be renting it and you might be the owner. If you live in a condo, it usually means you are the owner of the unit. However, some people who own condominium units will rent them out. So when someone says I live in a condo - you don't know for sure that they are the owners and not just the renters. :(
  13. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    In my understanding, the difference between condo and apartment is that the latter does not necessarily have additional facilities like swimming pools, club houses or tennis courts whereas the former does. It's not to do with whether it's owned or rented.

    While flat is the normal word in the UK, I'm beginning to hear apartment as well, particularly in relation to short-term lets, and the term serviced apartments is also used in BrE. (Traditionally, an apartment​ referred to a room in a suite.)
  14. WyomingSue Senior Member

    Cheyenne, WY
    I disagree. I used to live in an apartment complex that had a pool. To my mind, a condo is an apartment that you own. If a person just said they lived in an apartment I would assume they were renting it.

    <Note not required now. ;)>
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2013
  15. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I don't think I said that apartments had no facilities though. Apartments might or might not have facilities. Condos need to have facilities.
  16. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    English - US
    I know of condominiums that have no facilities. I have lived in Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana and California. Many condominiums in all those places were built as apartments. The complex is exactly the same complex as it was before. I've even lived in a complex where some of the units were apartments and some were condos. Condos are owned. Apartments are rented. No one that I have heard of where I have lived owns an apartment. Condos may be sublet from the owner, but the owner owns the unit not the complex. Apartments belong to the owner of the complex.
  17. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Thanks, Myridon. That certainly muddies the waters. Differences between English speakers. My use is perhaps like GreenWhiteBlue's (post 4).
  18. wanabee Senior Member

    Thank you very much, Julian, natkretep, WyomingSue, and Myridon!
  19. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    I'm afraid that's not so. "Apartment" just means a dwelling unit in a building or complex; it's a descriptive term. It says nothing about ownership. On the block where I live, some buildings are divided into as few as three or four such units, while others have as many as 30 or 40. That says nothing at all about how the building's ownership is set up. Some buildings are rentals, meaning that a company or individual owns the entire building and leases the units for profit (the owner is called a landlord); some are co-ops, meaning that the residents as a group own the building; and some are condos, meaning that the units are individually owned. There is nothing that physically distinguishes one kind of building from another. None have such facilities as swimming pools or tennis courts.
  20. Truffula

    Truffula Senior Member

    English - USA
    I think that may be a difference between New York usage of apartment and other parts of the USA. That "apartment" doesn't imply rental in New York but it does in many USA areas, including all the places I've lived (mostly Midwest and Southeast USA for me). I did live in New England for a while and I think I might recall that a similar meaning of "apartment" to include owned flats held there too, but I'm not sure - I was a university student then, and didn't know anyone who owned such a residence there. And the college I attended had a lot of New Yorkers so maybe I got the impression from them.

    So to sum up: In New York, if you say "I live in an apartment" it does not imply that you rent it.

    In Ohio or Kentucky or North Carolina, if you say "I live in an apartment" it implies you rent it, and if you own it you would probably say "I live in a condo." Even if it isn't technically a condominium. If you said "I love in a co-op" around here it would sound a bit like you mean that you live communally, or that you're from New York (New York residents say "co-op" on TV a lot, so we may know what it means there, but we don't expect our own neighbors to say it that way).
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
  21. wanabee Senior Member

    Thank you very much, Parla and Truffula!

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