What is a condo? If you ask most people to explain, they’ll tell you, “It’s like an apartment or townhouse, but you own it.” Or, “It’s like a home, but without a yard.” Both of these descriptions are mostly true, but there’s a lot more to the condominium meaning and the condos versus apartments debate, especially if you’re trying to decide where you should live.

What is a condo?

A condo, which is short for “condominium,” is a private residence owned by an individual homeowner or family in a building or community with multiple units or townhouses. Although they are usually part of a larger high-rise building, “detached condominiums” also exist.

What all condos have in common is that they share common areas—such as yards, garages, tennis courts, swimming pools, rec rooms, or gyms—with other units that the condominium owners don’t have to maintain themselves, making home upkeep that much easier.