The past year has been my first time living in a "strata property". I believe it is the Australian equivalent to HOA, but I'm not sure. (We probably need to be careful on this thread to avoid legal advice!)
Basically, in our case we are in free-standing houses but there are 4 on the same property, so technically they are "townhouses", and all with the same "look" and a shared driveway. We each own our own home, but the external area is shared property. There is an external "property management" company to whom we pay regular dues, and a property manager who facilitates meetings between all owners, a very businesslike process. The money we pay covers admin costs, insurance, maintenance, and also a fund for improvements such as exterior painting or resurfacing the driveway. Many strata properties are apartments or joined dwellings, ours is slightly unusual in that it is freestanding houses, but the same strata rules apply due to the property title and development.
Because DH and I have pets we have always lived in houses with yards, and by pure chance never lived in a strata property until now, despite the fact that a significant percentage of properties in this city are strata properties, due to development. I have to say I definitely find it feels odd to me. Day to day it has little effect, but when it comes to changing anything external just knowing that we *should* be consulting others or that somebody else can technically tell us no, does feel restrictive in comparison to having a house on separate title. I loathe the grey fence, which is only a few metres away from our lovely open glass ranch slider doors - but it's a relatively new fence and there's no way all of the neighbours would agree to pay to replace it! So there are decisions such as that which make a big difference.
So - what type of housing situation are you in? What do you like or dislike about it and why?
What you have sounds more like a co-op (co-operative) or condo (condominium) than an HOA. I think that HOAs cover a lot more area, like an entire neighbourhood development, and they don't actually take care of anything outside. That's the homeowner's total responsibility, but they can fine you if you don't do things their way (wrong kind of fence, wrong colour of paint, not mowing your lawn, that kind of thing.) I think their idea is to keep the neighbourhood looking up to a certain standard.
I used to live in a condo that was a bit different than most as the units were more like duplexes in that there were only two attached. I think they properly were considered to be townhouses though, but like two end units stuck together. I liked not having to worry about the outside stuff like lawn and building maintenance, though it could take them a while to get around to fixing some things. It mostly worked well until the awful neighbour in back of me got on the condo board. They caused a bit of trouble. Or when things went wrong and you had only a specific amount of time to cough up a substantial amount of cash because there wasn't enough in the bank to cover a major sewer repair.