Lifetime Small Condo Ownership Discussion

I’ve never owned a home and because of a mix of propaganda marketing, problems renting apartments, and legitimate reasons, I am considering purchasing my first home. My first instinct is a single family home (SFH) with no HOA because HOAs are terrible and I don’t want restrictions on what I can do to/in my home, otherwise I’ll continue renting.

However as I get closer and closer to affording my first home purchase (goal of paying in cash, no mortgage), I find problems with the SFH model that are making me reconsider a small condo.

PROs of Single Family Home (no HOA): greatest amount of freedom. Can raise chickens in my backyard, paint my house purple, replace my lawn with rocks, etc. Cheapest long-term option since if I want to retire early, I can get by on only paying property taxes, minimizing my utilities, and nothing else. No insurance, no landscaping, no HOA fees.

CONs of Single Family Home: I’m going to customize it exactly the way I like in crazy ways. It’s outside of the scope of this thread and for privacy reasons I won’t share the specific details online, but if I buy a house, I plan to customize it at great expense in ways that will make the house unsalable. It will be mine for life. One example I will share is completely removing one of the bedroom windows and drywalling it shut.

My sleep schedule requires me to sleep during daylight and I want complete blackness in my bedroom. Blackout curtains aren’t enough. I’ll drop around $50k on these types of modifications that will reduce the resale value of the home. If I can’t make these upgrades, then my reason for home ownership is reduced significantly to the point where I’d rather rent for the rest of my life.

CON 2 of SFH: Liberals could destroy the city over the course of the rest of my lifetime. I have a friend who lives in a very liberal city that over the course of the last 20 years has become a literal warzone due to raising welfare benefits, and mandating section 8 housing be interspersed all across the city. Over the last two weeks, there’s been one gun fight on the streets every day in this town that used to have zero crime. This didn’t happen overnight, but over the course of 20 years of progressive thinking. So this wonderful house I pour a massive amount of money into customizing might wind up being a place I need to abandon at a great financial loss. As a renter, I can vote with my feet. Let the liberals raise taxes and increase crime and I’ll go elsewhere in a few months notice.

CON 3 of SFH: I like to travel often and I don’t want to leave my house uninhabited for 6 months at a time. I don’t want to Air BnB it out because of the customizations that I don’t want messed with. And I’ll have really nice furniture and artwork that I don’t want to put into storage. I don’t go on 6 month trips often but I like the idea of being able to go to Europe for 6 months and not worry about a house.

These cons are leading me towards considering a condo. I think it allows me to do some customizations like drywall the inside of the bedroom window, because if the HOA doesn’t see it externally, it should be no problem. I can’t do all of the customizations I want, and I can’t raise chickens for fresh eggs, but that’s the tradeoff.

With a condo if the city goes to hell, it will be less of a financial loss if I have to abandon it, or simply rent it out forever and move out.

Most importantly, with the condo if I travel for 6 months, it feels safer to leave the place unattended to. The neighbors will look after it and the HOA has a key in case the plumbing leaks.

I recognize that my reasons for homeownership are odd but am still curious in hearing critique of my thoughts.

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@TripleB From here on out, I will remember you as the Mad Max Chicken Farmer Vampire Wanderer.


Please share some more of the modifications. Pretty please!

Also how are you dealing with the modification issues now with renting?

If you get into a HOA where most of the units are either rented or held by people with limited English, and you get on the board you can do almost anything you want.

I was all about having a SFH and thought that buying my condo was a big mistake. After 2 years of living here I am glad I didn’t buy a SFH, at least at this point in my life. I would either be working every weekend on something or paying the same as my HOA every month for someone else to do the stuff I don’t want to do. I’m only responsible for the interior and that along takes up my weekends sometimes.

Also, from 3+ years of looking at houses I will say this: there is nothing you can do to a house in the right market that will make it impossible to sell. I’ve seen so many crazy things that made me think “no one will buy this” and then it sold for more than listing with a bidding war.


I hate light pollution. I need a more permanent solution. It’s an issue at night in my house as the builder put porch lamp covers that violate the CCRs and deed restrictions (they don’t direct the light onto just the owner’s property), plus other neighbors even several houses away have added flood lighting pointing to rear and sides of house that all makes it over to my house.

Is drywalling just to make the wall “cleaner” looking? Can’t you alternately just put something in front of the window and ignore it if you don’t want to ever use it? Or if blocking light completely is the only goal, have you seen roller-type shades with a moulding on each side? Those should block 100.0000% of light. A thick roller blind will block all the light except edges, and the molding will completely block out the edges. This is my plan to install in main living area (for movies on the projector screen), but haven’t gotten around to spending $$$ and time to do.

I’ve only owned a house and haven’t considered this point that closely yet. But how is the condo different than the house here? If you trust your neighbors in the condo to look over your stuff (and I guess also go into your place to check it’s not been burglarized?), how is the house different?

You sure about this?

Properly installed blinds, black-out curtains, and a sleep mask should do the trick. You can spend the rest on sound proofing.

If I needed to leave for more than a few weeks, I’d look for a house/condo/chicken sitter.

Dude, you cant drop that nugget and not follow up with more details. :slight_smile:

Why would you drywall over windows*? Just build what’s essentially a large picture frame and hang it over the window opening. About $20 of material and you are good to go, yet removing 4 screws and it returns to “normal”.

I’m really curious as to what other kind of things you want to do that you think will add up to $50k in costs? Obviously, you should be looking at a run-down rehab home, so you can do the rehab with your customizations and still end up investing less than finished market value, instead of paying for a move-in ready house then sinking even more money into destroying it.

*Forget HOA requirements, sealing off bedroom windows will likely violate local fire codes, no matter where the house is located.


I agree with the advantage of leaving a condo for extended amount of time. I live in the country and it is very apparent when the snow is not shoveled or the grass is not cut. I live on acreage with a long driveway that I cut the grass 50 feet on each side. One year I decided to only cut the grass 10 feet on each side of the driveway. Within a week we had two trucks drive up to the house at 3AM. I have an alarm that went off so I opened the door to confront what I suspect was a attempt to rob us. Both trucks backed back down the driveway at a high rate of speed. People driving by notice differences.

On the other hand my Mother lives in a condo and her Condo Association has forced her to replace her windows, water heater, furnace and other things I can’t think of now. She also has had her designated parking spot moved a few times. When the Association leadership changes so do changes to prime parking assignments to friends of the new leaders. To allow visitors in the swimming pool she has to get the visitors pre approved days in advance. Once in the pool a gaggle of old hens constantly criticize splashing, jumping etc. I would not last very long in a condo. I can hire someone of MY choice to cut the grass and clear the driveway of snow. Usually a friend.

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Unless you still have two forms of egress from that room, that is illegal/against code. You probably don’t care, but if there’s a fire in your hallway and you drywalled your window, you’re going to regret it.


TripleB is obviously a vampire.

I saw a million dollar listing where the house was owned by a hoarder and was condemned. All the junk was inside, so it wasn’t just a teardown, you had to bring in specialists to deal with it in case there was anything hazardous. In addition, the pool was in such bad shape, it needed to be filled in. It sold pretty quickly.


Are you going to install a bookcase that has one of those secret levers that makes the entire bookcase swivel to reveal a secret passageway behind the bookcase? Cause you should do that.


Coffin getting too cramped?

As for the condo, make sure you look at the HOA regs and books before buying. You don’t want to buy into one that has no reserves.

As for a home, I find it quite comforting to be able have a beer on my deck, and then belch without my neighbors hearing me. Yeah, I know. It’s the little things that make one comfortable.

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I dont see how that could possibly hurt the market value. That’d clearly be a selling point.

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$15 sheet of plywood. But then again I’m a southern redneck so my standards are pretty low.


I don’t want to list all of my ideas because it will detract from the thread but another example is getting rid of a dishwasher in the kitchen. I don’t like them. I’d also get a very small refrigerator. I’d remodel the kitchen around my needs, not around the needs of a family of 8. It won’t be as simple and not using the dishwasher, or replacing a large fridge with a smaller one, because then the kitchen would be poorly laid out. I’d tear the whole thing down and turn it into something that meets my needs. I like a lot of counter space, and very little cabinet space.

I’d way rather have an extra half bathroom than a dishwasher/large fridge/extra kitchen cabinets for the same square footage.

Regarding Fire Codes of the bedroom, thanks for that. Plywood would look like crap so I was thinking drywall would look cleaner. As far as a second egress, I plan on having a connected bathroom and that will have a window.

I’ve also just considered installing hurricane shutters that roll down - if you combine that with black out rollers, that may work well enough. I have not good success with various blackout options in apartments. I’m using velcro right now and it’s about 99.9% but man does that .01% really make a difference in me not being able to sleep. I don’t like sleep masks they are uncomfortable on my face. I’ve tried them all and I do use them when I travel but I dislike them and on a list of the top 5 reasons I want a home, on there is the ability to truly black out my bedroom so I can sleep in pitch black without a sleep mask.

I couldn’t find a good example of the kind I was referring to, or what keyword to search for. Image search pulled up an example of what I was referring to. What it needs is tracks or molding on the side to block any light leakage there (Something like the lower in this image Plus maybe on the bottom of the frame.

A few other things you probably keep in mind:

  • bedroom window not facing the sun.
  • longer roof rafters to prevent direct sunlight into the window
  • darker ground outside the window (so it doesn’t reflect sunlight as much as light cement pavement, for example)

So why would you buy a house that fits the needs of a family of 8 in the first place? I’d assume such a house would already have more bathrooms than you need, so why waste the money to add yet another one? The kitchen size is generally proportional to the size of the house, if the kitchen is so big that you feel like you are wasting square footage, you are going to be wasting that square footage somewhere in the house regardless.

And lots of counter space is really nice, but those counters still need to sit on something, be it cabinets, dishwasher, whatever. You arent going to reclaim any space by removing cabinets but keeping the counters.

Once again, it’s a waste to buy something you dont like then tear it down, you should be buying something with nothing there to begin with. Dont pay for someone else’s finished work only to immediately destroy it.

And dont think “plywood looks like crap”. Think “picture frame”. It can be an actual piece of artwork, posters, or just a large piece of paneling with basic trim around it. Or hell, hide it behind a large bookcase. It doesnt have to be permanent to seal the light out completely, you want to use those “blackout” options to hide your plywood cover. If anything, after putting in drywall you’ll forget where exactly the window is, and end up driving a nail through it when hanging something on the wall.


Why not build one of those tiny houses?