There’s nothing quite like the dream of coming home after a long day, grabbing a cold one, and kicking back on a nice, big balcony to take in the sunset over whatever gorgeous view might make this scene complete for you.
The reality, though, is typically not quite exactly like what we just described! Certainly, some condo balcony experiences come close to that picturesque scene we found ourselves wishing we were enjoying above, but other times, condo balconies can often feel like more trouble than they’re worth.
And that’s precisely what we’ll be exploring today: is having a condo balcony worth it? What’s worth knowing when you’re considering a condo with a balcony, compared to one without? Let’s dig into the details.
The Top Five Things to Know About Condo Balconies
1. Will You Actually Use the Danged Thing?
The first thing to consider when kicking around going all-in on a balcony is a seemingly-obvious question: will you actually get around to using it? Similar to the scene we set at the beginning of this article, it’s easy to conjure up images of all sorts of wonderful, saccharine scenarios involving long, placid evenings and peaceful mornings spent outside, overlooking your domain, reading a book, doing some stretching or yoga – but will these beautiful balcony dreams truly come to life, or will life keep you from ever getting the chance to enjoy your balcony in the way you’ve got pictured in your mind?
Take a moment when considering “yes” or “no” on a balcony to really do a second of soul-searching: will you be out there, using it, enjoying it, soaking in those sunsets?
Alright – let’s keep chatting through it, then.
2. What Can You Actually Use Your Balcony For?
When it comes to balcony usage, there’s actually more to consider than you might realize at first blush. Despite your balcony being a private bit of space acting as a direct extension of your condo, it’s outside-of-building nature means that oftentimes, condo boards and condo bylaws can have an impact on what you do with the space.
Now don’t get us wrong – if all you’re planning on doing out there is hanging out and enjoying a glass of wine with a good book, you’re not going to have anything to worry about. However, many condo boards take it upon themselves to implement bylaws regarding balcony usage when it comes to concerns like safety and aesthetic.
Some buildings, for example, are very particular about what you can keep out on the balcony. An outdoor chair or table is typically alright, but oftentimes things like bikes, skis, or other big and bulky items are prohibited from being kept on the balcony, with the board claiming it to be an eyesore for residents and community members alike.
Similarly, what you do on your balcony isn’t always up for you to decide. Condo corporations will regularly prohibit activities like barbecuing, for example, citing safety concerns – so if you were hoping to use the space as an outdoor grilling arena, be sure to check in with that building’s bylaws before making your decision to move in based on the presence of a balcony!
3. What’s That View Like?
So, your new prospective home has a balcony – but what’s the view actually like when you step outside and take it all in?
This is a big, but sometimes not overly-obvious consideration that’s definitely worth taking into account as you consider whether a balcony is a gamechanger for you. Just because a condo has a balcony, after all, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s facing a view that you’ll find all that compelling at the end of the day. Maybe your balcony faces west and offers a sweeping vista made complete by the towering Rockies looming majestically in the distance – or maybe it overlooks a gas station parking lot.
Maybe you’re not too worried about the view at all and the appeal of a balcony for you simply lies in the fact that you’re high-up outside – and if that’s the case, then great! That said, we always like to encourage potential buyers to consider this critical question before signing on the dotted line.
4. Is Your Budget Big Enough for a Big Enough Balcony?
Before signing off on a lease because the listing states, “Balcony included,” it’s worth pointing out: all balconies are not created equal.
What are you planning to do on your balcony? Are you looking to just have a little quiet place to hang out? Do you want to entertain out there? Is it the view more than anything? All these details will factor into whether or not the balcony you’re looking at will actually do what you need it to do for you – and if your balcony dreams are bigger than your budget.
Consider the space you’ve got to work with. In order to get much more than a narrow outdoors walkway – a necessity for having guests over or greeting the sunrise with a Sun Salutation – you’re likely going to be looking at some pretty swanky condos (or luck into a great deal on a unit that just so happens to have been built with a big ol’ walkout included).
Similarly, if you’re looking to kick back in a recliner and enjoy the view, you’ll want to get a sense of what the railing construction entails. Many balconies are fenced in with big, solid walls for safety – meaning that your view could be completely obstructed if you’re doing anything but standing tall out there. Some buildings might let you adjust the build of your balcony railing, but most likely will not – there are just too many aesthetic and safety concerns to take into account.
5. Is There an Alternative Option That Will Do the Trick Just as Well?
Now that we’ve covered some of the common considerations regarding balconies, it’s worth also asking: is there an alternate option that could do the trick just a well? Many condo buildings now feature rooftop patios, outdoor living spaces, even common areas equipped with barbecues and furniture for grilling and entertaining. Is a private balcony really what you’re after – or could one of these amenities do the trick just as well with much less headache involved? That’s for you to decide – and we hope that some of the details we’ve covered today can help you make that decision with confidence.
There’s an innate appeal in having your own balcony – but they come along with lots to consider, as well. Have more questions about balcony life? Still not sure if having a balcony is right for you? Get in touch with us at Catalyst Condominium Management today – we’ll be happy to help you find your way forward, balcony or no!