Condo or Townhouse: Which Is The Right Choice for Ottawa Residents?

Many Ottawa residents wonder whether a condo or a townhouse better suits their lifestyle and financial goals. The answers often involve unexpected variables, from community culture to unexpected maintenance costs.

Differentiating Between Condos and Townhouses

When contemplating the purchase of a residential property in Ottawa, the choices may seem overwhelming. One of the initial decisions a prospective homeowner needs to make is the type of property that aligns best with their needs and lifestyle. Two options frequently emerge as contenders: condos and townhouses. Both offer distinct advantages and limitations, and understanding these can provide essential insights into making an educated decision.

Condos in Ottawa

Owning a condo in Ottawa can be appealing for multiple reasons. First, you don’t bear the brunt of maintenance tasks. All responsibilities related to common spaces and shared amenities fall under the purview of the condo association. Condo owners pay fees to the Homeowner Association (HOA) to fund these services, offering you more leisure time and less concern about upkeep.

Moreover, condo communities usually boast a range of amenities, such as fitness centers, swimming pools, and 24/7 concierge services, enhancing the living experience. These amenities, in conjunction with the building’s security measures like 24-hour surveillance and locked entrances, add a level of safety and convenience.

However, living in a condo comes with strings attached. Condo association rules can be quite limiting. Restrictions can range from pet ownership to modifications on your unit. If you prefer greater freedom to personalize your living space, a condo might not be your best choice.

Townhouses in Ottawa

Contrastingly, a townhouse offers more autonomy. It often comes with a small yard, giving homeowners some outdoor space without the extensive property to maintain. Additionally, townhouses, usually governed by less stringent HOA rules, provide more room for customization, both inside and outside.

However, townhouses are generally costlier than condos. Prepare for a larger down payment and higher ongoing expenses, such as utilities and property taxes. Also, you will bear more responsibility for repairs and maintenance compared to condo living.

The Icy Canada team talked to Joe Chappius, Financial Planner at Tax Climate, about the affordability of purchasing a home in Ottawa. Here is what he said:

Joe Chappius - Featured
Joe Chappius

“My top advice is not to do it alone—consult and seek professional help. A seasoned financial planner or real estate agent can be a great help in navigating this milestone.

They’ll help you decode and clearly understand the current market trends and property types, and pinpoint neighborhoods that match your needs and budget.

They can even guide you and explain your mortgage options and financing, making sure you’re not swimming in over your head.

So, before you start scanning listings or daydreaming about your dream home, tap into the expertise of those who know the ins and outs of Ottawa’s housing landscape. It’ll save you time, stress, and maybe even some dollars in the long run.”

Pros and Cons of Condos and Townhouses

Condo Pros:

  1. Luxurious Amenities: The range of amenities in condo buildings is often extensive, encompassing fitness rooms, pools, and concierge services.
  2. Urban Living: Condos frequently offer proximity to city centers, making them an attractive option for those who wish to reside close to work or city amenities.
  3. Low Maintenance: The condo association takes care of general property maintenance, allowing you more time for leisure activities.
  4. Security: Many condos offer added security features, such as 24/7 surveillance and locked entrances.

Condo Cons:

  1. Association Rules: You might find the condo association’s rules overly restrictive, limiting your ability to make changes to your property.

Townhouse Pros:

  1. Greater Autonomy: Less stringent HOA rules and more physical space provide townhouse owners with more freedom for property customization.
  2. Higher Resale Value: The combination of greater freedom and larger living space often results in a higher resale value for townhouses.

Townhouse Cons:

  1. Security Concerns: Without 24/7 surveillance, townhouses generally lack the level of security that condos offer.
  2. Higher Costs: Be prepared for a larger down payment and higher monthly expenses.
  3. Increased Responsibility: Maintenance tasks will be your sole responsibility, adding to your list of homeowner duties.

Comparative Analysis

Financial Implications

When it comes to finances, both condos and townhouses have their unique sets of costs that extend beyond the initial purchase price. With condos, while you may not be responsible for general maintenance or yard work, you are obliged to pay monthly or yearly Homeowner Association (HOA) fees. These fees cover the upkeep of common areas, shared amenities, and sometimes even utilities. Over time, HOA fees can add up, potentially becoming a significant financial burden if you haven’t budgeted for them.

Townhouses often come with HOA fees as well, but these are usually lower since there are fewer amenities to maintain. However, it’s worth noting that you’ll be responsible for your property’s upkeep. So even if you aren’t paying as much in HOA fees, you might end up spending more on personal maintenance tasks and repairs.

In a townhouse, not only do you own the actual residence, but you also own the land it sits on. This ownership structure typically leads to higher property taxes in comparison to condos. For those considering this route, browsing through Ottawa townhouses for sale can give you an idea of property values, which in turn influence the tax implications. Financial planning for a townhouse should thus incorporate various expenses including, but not limited to, mortgage payments, HOA fees, property taxes, and maintenance costs.

Adam Seguin, Owner of Myrtle Beach Home Buyers, talked about first-time homebuyers navigating the complex housing market in Ottawa. Here is what he had to say:

Adam Seguin - Featured
Adam Seguin

“I would advise first-time purchasers to start by assessing their budget realistically. With the average home price in Ottawa sitting around $600,000, it’s crucial to secure financing pre-approval to understand purchasing power. 

Additionally, exploring diverse neighborhoods allows buyers to discover areas that align with their lifestyle and budget.

Lastly, staying updated on market trends through real estate reports ensures informed decisions, maximizing investment potential amidst Ottawa’s dynamic market fluctuations.”

Lifestyle Considerations

Lifestyle is another critical aspect to consider when choosing between a condo and a townhouse. Condos typically appeal to those who prioritize convenience and access to shared facilities like gyms, swimming pools, and social spaces within the same building. This kind of living setup is often well-suited for individuals who have busy lives and prefer to have most of their needs met within their immediate living environment.

Townhouses offer a different lifestyle. They appeal to people who want a more traditional home setting, perhaps with a small yard or garden. They give residents the freedom to engage in activities that condos might restrict, like gardening or having a larger pet. While you might not have a gym downstairs, you often have more living space and the option to create your workout area. This setting tends to attract people who are looking for a hybrid between a single-family home and a more communal living situation.

Security Aspects

Security is also a variable that could influence your decision. Condos usually have security measures in place like 24-hour surveillance, door attendants, and secure entry points, contributing to a more secure environment. This can be particularly comforting if you travel frequently or are concerned about safety.

In a townhouse, the security setup is often less comprehensive. You may not have surveillance cameras at every corner or a security guard at the entrance. Instead, your safety largely depends on the community you’re in and the security measures you decide to implement. You have the freedom to install your security systems, but it’s an additional task—and cost—that falls on you.

We interviewed Erik Wright, CEO of New Horizon Home Buyers, on facilitating informed decisions in Ottawa’s diverse housing market. Here is what he had to say:

Erik Wright - Featured
Erik Wright

“Having assisted numerous first-time buyers in Ottawa, I emphasize the significance of thorough research and patience. Understanding property types, from condos to detached homes, aids in aligning preferences with budget constraints. 

Moreover, leveraging professional guidance streamlines the process, as real estate professionals offer insights into upcoming developments and market shifts.

Lastly, attending open houses and engaging with locals provides invaluable firsthand perspectives on neighborhood dynamics, facilitating informed decisions in Ottawa’s diverse housing market.”


The choice between a condo and a townhouse in Ottawa boils down to more than simple personal preference. A multitude of factors, both overt and subtle, influence this important life decision.

Last Updated on by Saket Kumar


  1. After reading your article, I realized the true value of a townhouse, which I was previously unaware of. Thanks to you, my appreciation for townhouses has only grown stronger. Despite their higher cost and larger down payment requirements, I’ve decided that a townhouse is the perfect choice for my future home. Your article helped me understand the many benefits of owning a townhouse and I am now confident in my decision.

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