Many people complain about condo fees, without fully understanding WHAT condo fees actually are, what they do, or how they are calculated. Let's review a few of these before deciding if the fees are "bad".
What are Condos First, a condominium is a form of group ownership. When you buy an apartment (lets say 100 units, all same size), you are not only buying your individual condo, but a type of real estate that makes you a PARTIAL owners in the ENTIRE building. In the 100 unit example, you become a 1% in EVERYTHING, for better and for worse. In real life, we typically break down the fees by the size of the units, with larger units paying more.
What Rights / Privileges / Responsibilities Your ownership stake allows you to vote for the board of directors, who controls/manages the complex. It allows you even run to be a director. It makes you responsible for 1% of the roof replacement cost. 1% of the landscaping. And 1% of the power that keeps the hall lights on. You are a co-owner.
What do the the fees INCLUDE? Condo fees typically cover for the exterior landscaping, exterior maintenance, building insurance (think fire, not theft), and other common expenses. In *most* apartments, there is a central boiler / utility room that provides heat to the entire building and hot water, meaning all heat and water is then included in the condo fee. The condo fee is higher, but typically your only required payment beyond the condo fee is electricity.
I did a study of the all the newer (2008-2018) build apartment condos, under 1000 sq ft, and found the average condo fee to be about 51 cents/square foot. I find that brand new condos don't have a good idea of what the costs yet are (some are still partially controlled / covered by the builder), so I kept it a few years old. OLDER condos typically have higher fees, with more maintenance needs and higher costs.
In theory, if you had a 1000 sq ft relatively new condo, you should pay roughly $510. One of the most common layouts is 2 bedrooms, and about 850 sq ft; this owner would expect to pay about $433.
These are averages. If you buy a condo in a flood plain, the insurers will charge MUCH more. If your building boasts a pool, expect to pay more. If you enjoy the services of a concierge, expect to have higher fees.
Condos appeal to a wide cross section of people. Those just starting out, that want to live 5 minutes to work in the downtown. Those that travel and don't want to be responsible for yard maintenance. Those that are retired, and can't do yard maintenance. Senior condo buildings have extra appeal of a community of like individuals. Condos generally appeal less to the young family with kids that want to play in their own backyard.
Surprise Condos While condo are more commonly seen as apartments and townhomes, almost any type of real estate can be condominiumized, and owned via condo corporations. Many commercial buildings are broken down into condos. Given the higher degree of control, one of the more prestigious developments in the Calgary region, sold their LAND as condos, that builder then built on. Elbow Valley.