What’s the Difference Between a Chicago Condo and Apartment?

May 19, 2017 | By JD Eaton
Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Many people start their online search for a new home in the city by searching for downtown Chicago condos. But often, they are looking for rental options and would get better results by looking for apartments. If you’re unsure of the differences between a condo and apartment, we’ve broken it down.

This terminology is less complex than other examples in Chicago’s market (like what is a convertible apartment?) and has to do with who owns the unit.

Condo units are owned by individuals and rented out, which means the owner is your landlord. Downtown Chicago condos are often managed by the building’s HOA, frequently with the assistance of a property management company.

Apartment buildings are owned by a company and units are rented out by a property management company, which is usually on-site in the downtown luxury high-rises.

So how do these two options differ?


There are literally thousands of new downtown Chicago apartments coming to market this year. From golf simulators to bocce ball, the city’s latest luxury deliveries are guaranteed to have something for everyone. Since the sales market rebounded, more condo owners have opted to sell, which means there now are fewer condos for rent in downtown Chicago than we’ve seen in previous years.


Most Chicago apartment buildings do not charge a security deposit. Instead, you’ll most likely pay an application fee (between $50-75) and an administration or move-in fee (the average is $400). Condo renters can expect to pay a security deposit, which is usually one month’s rent, and a couple other fees, like to reserve a freight elevator for moving. We’ve got an entire post about apartment and condo fees in Chicago.


There used to be a clear distinction here when Chicago condos were built with higher quality finishes than apartments. However, the construction of rental buildings rebounded faster than sales; since 2013 we have seen an increasing number of new apartments with luxury finishes. There have also been more conversions, where older condo buildings have been sold and turned into rentals. New construction condos are coming to market in larger numbers this year, and there are plenty of reasons to love them.

Whether you’re looking to rent, buy or sell in Chicago, our experienced team is ready to help. Follow the link below to start your search or contact us directly to start a discussion about apartments or condos, whichever you prefer.

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