Full Service or Self Service Boston Condos?

Who doesn’t like to be pampered? Who wouldn’t want somebody to park your car for you, open the door for you and do your laundry? The answer is a lot of people. For as many people out there that are looking for the “full service – hotel service level” life in Downtown Boston, there are just as many who love all that this great city has to offer, that want to be in the hustle and bustle of the urban neighborhoods, but who also value privacy and independence.

For those of you who want to find care free living in a beautiful new construction building with access to all the shopping, eateries, nightlife, etc. that Boston has to offer, right now is a great time for you. Buyer’s can choose from a selection of top notch full service buildings in town such as The Clarendon in the Back Bay, The W in the Theater District, 45 Province in the Financial District, Battery Wharf in the North End’s Waterfront and many more. Just hand over the keys to the valet and carry on into your plush new digs.

On the flip side, there just as many people out there who don’t need or want all the frills that comes along with many of the new construction properties. Some prefer the rich architecture of the South End brownstones, the privacy and “homey” feel of a Jamaica Plain single family or the affordability and simplicity of a unit in a multi family house in neighborhoods like South Boston or Charlestown. Whether or not they can afford it, some people just simply do not like having someone else park their car for them, make their dinner reservations or have on site yoga classes. They may see these amenities as frivolous or they may just simply have a personality better matched for something more private and intimate.

Which is the right choice? There is no right or wrong answer and luckily this city has housing options for everybody, but here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to decide….

A full service building, like those mentioned above, are great for those who are on the go and don’t have time to spend the time handling some of the more mundane tasks of homeownership. Maintaining a home, even a condo if you are in a small building, can be time consuming and carry many hidden expenses such as paying bills, painting, cleaning, staining decks, lawn care, security etc. With a full service building you pay your monthly fee and life goes on. The grounds are perfectly kept, the lobbies and hallways are cleaned and all you have to worry about is enjoying your home. Some of them offer key advantages to living in a full service building are the 24 hour doormen or concierge that provide help and knowledge about the city and can take care of some of your errands for you, maintain your unit while you are gone and provide a great sense of security for you and the building. Many buildings also have onsite restaurants which are great for nights when you don’t have time to cook or run to the store but don’t want to venture far from home. Of course all of these wonderful perks come at a cost. Condo fees at these types of buildings can range from $.50 per square foot (roughly on average) to well over $1.00 per square foot. Many of these fees include costly things such as parking maintenance, heat, air conditioning and gas for cooking. Look closely at what is included in the fee before dismissing it as way too high compared to a few hundred dollar fee in a brownstone or small building.

That said, if you prefer a more independent lifestyle of home ownership, a small condo building or single family home can indeed be much more affordable on a monthly basis. Valet parking, doormen, concierges on site gyms and lots of common space can get expensive and if you’re the type that would not take advantages of such amenities than you would be better off not subsidizing others in the building that do by paying much higher condo fees. Most basic condo fees in the city include water & sewer costs, master insurance and some maintenance or reserves. Beyond that you are on your own so you will want to take a closer look and itemize what your costs will be for heating and cooling, parking, upkeep, etc. Also, keep in mind what you pay for things you might not think of that could be included in a full service building such as a monthly gym membership. Add these all up and if there is a significant savings then you’re good to go, enjoy your home!

If you still don’t know which option is best for you – full service or self service – let’s go see them all and I can help you make that decision after reviewing all of the properties and their purchase and monthly costs.

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