For those who are looking for a low-maintenance lifestyle, or a place in a popular downtown area to call home, condos are a very attractive option when looking for a new home. They can offer many bonuses that you won't find with most houses - plentiful amenities, helpful maintenance, an active and close-knit community. But along with these benefits comes a different lifestyle and new things to consider before you decide to make an offer.

Rules and Guidelines - Most condo communities have a set of rules that may be casual guidelines or strictly enforced restrictions. Make sure that you get a copy of the rules and guidelines before you put in an offer for a condo. Go through each one and decide whether they will be a good fit with your lifestyle. If you are going to be constantly at odds with a community's rules, it can lead to tension between you and management, or you and your neighbors, and that can make your home seem far less comforting and inviting than it should. Know what you're getting into ahead of time.

Know the Cost - Joining a condo community brings along with it a variety of possible extra fees that you will find yourself paying. Whether they be small maintenance fees or high costs to maintain the extravagant amenities provided will depend on the community. Get a complete list of the fees that will be expected of you so that you know what to prepare for. Also try and find out if the community is planning anything that may raise costs, such as significant building improvements or upgrades.

Do Your Research - Find out as much as you can about the community and condo association that you're planning on buying into. Learn what you can about the financial status of the condo association. If they run into money trouble, the cost will be passed on to the residents. If a large amount of units have recently been vacated or foreclosed on, the remaining owners will likely see their costs increased to make up the difference. Go around, if you can, and talk to some of the residents there. See how happy they are with where they're living and how their complex is being run. Remember that when you buy a condo, you're not just buying a home, you're buying yourself into an entire community. It's important to make sure that it's a lifestyle and a community that you will feel comfortable and happy being a part of.

Owning a condo can be a wonderful choice for those who are looking for a certain lifestyle, but it's important to know ahead of time what kind of community you're buying into. Do your research and you'll have no problem finding a place where you'll love to live.