The highs and lows of condo livingBy Isabel Berenguer Asuncion
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The great majority of Filipinos still live in rented homes. That makes the big dream of owning one alive and well.
For many, a house on the ground is still the ideal but there are also those who prefer the apartment or condo lifestyle. Early and empty nesters are usually the market for these types of homes that more often than not, house only a few persons, need minimal maintenance and—being usually single level—are quick and easy to move around in.
Because of the competition, developers are scrambling to sell apartment units at the best value for money. It may not necessarily be a buyer’s market price-wise, but the race to sell has driven developers to come up with a variety of creative options in terms of both cost and lifestyle. For those new to condo living, here are a few points to ponder—both the good and the bad—before deciding on whether this is the way for you to go:
1You will learn to do away with the excesses: shoes, bags and clothes you never wear anymore; books that are crumbling; souvenirs from events or travels that you don’t even look at; useless things brought into your space mindlessly. Within a condo unit, you learn to manage your things before they manage you because you will never have enough space to organize them. Eventually you will realize that it takes only a few important and valuable things to keep you happy, comfortable, and feeling right at home.
2You will more often than not, look out to great views of the city. But don’t expect a lot of light to come in unless yours is a large, high-end unit with full glass walls that occupy a corner, or even half, of the building. Most condos go with the rule of a 30- to 40-percent window area against the wall area. If you select one that faces north, then you won’t even need window treatments to protect your space from too much sunlight, but you may not enjoy the amount of natural light you’d want your space to be bathed in on a daily basis. On top of that, it could feel a bit dark and gloomy. If you like the warm, cozy, cocooned feeling, a condo is the best place to achieve that.
3You can run your air conditioner more frequently, for it’s likelier that your areas are smaller than if it were a house. But if you use your air conditioning intermittently and don’t air your place on warmer and drier days, you’ll trap a lot of humidity in your closets.
Someone else (the association or building management) will take care of all the repair work—except that they will charge you a substantial sum for managing the building. On the flipside, if you are the typical urban workaholic, or you’d rather spend your weekends on rest and recreation, then this arrangement saves you a lot of time and trouble. They will provide you with spaces for rest and recreation too, as you are likely to have an amenity floor with a pool, gym, children’s play area, a small garden and many other provisions that support the lifestyle your particular condo of choice promised to offer.
4You will learn to live with the convenience of a washing machine and a dryer. There usually isn’t enough sun and air movement to dry clothes so forget air drying except for really hot days. Or unless you run your air conditioner all day, which dehumidifies indoor air, and will allow your clothes to dry fast. An alternative will be to hang clothes to air dry then run them in the dryer for 10 to 15 minutes to eliminate moisture. Your clothes and towels will always be fluffy. Prepare for higher electric bills though.
5No one has to answer the doorbell when the mailman rings. He won’t. Most condos have mail rooms at the main lobby where rows of mailboxes are built into the wall. Some condos though have them way up too high to reach. Others provide mailboxes that are impossibly small to serve their useful purpose. Larger packages are usually left at the reception.
6Security will not be a problem for there is always a guard at the lobby and there are CCTV cameras at all the common areas. Just be careful that no one slips into the floor with you when you come in because you will often be in the hallway alone. And it’s rare that you will meet your neighbors on the same floor. The beauty here is that if you have potentially annoying neighbors, you are, by spatial circumstances, disassociated.
7You can lock and go. In a house, you’ll need to lock, and lock, and lock, and lock some more. Then you can go. Managing keys can be challenging because aside from your room keys, you will have back door keys, main gate keys, pedestrian gate keys and many other keys to lock up your auxiliary outdoor spaces. But you can sleep well at night in your condo knowing your well-fitted front door protects you, and your windows are well out of a thief’s reach.
8You can always rent out a condo later when you find you’ve outgrown the space or the lifestyle. For many, it is the space and the lifestyle of choice.