It's not just that condos are an attractive intermediate move, though this is an important recent reality of homeownership. Condo values have been appreciating faster than those of single-family homes, making them a good start for first-time homebuyers who would like to build equity for a house purchase a few years down the road.
Condos are now viewed as a great middle ground for people at opposite ends of the homeowning spectrum: first-time homebuyers appreciate the still-competitive prices of condos as compared to single-family homes, and retirees like the convenience of condo living (with affordability certainly an attraction for the seniors and simplicity an appeal to busy young professionals, too).
A condo can keep benefiting its buyer even after they move (if they even ever want to): some owners keep their condo as a rental investment when they switch to another kind of home. Still, as with any living arrangement, you want to make sure the situation is right for you.
One big consideration is the ways in which a condo's conveniences come with certain trade-offs. As in a conventional apartment complex, most maintenance work and many other homeowner hassles will be taken care of for you, but not without expense. All residents must join an association which requires dues and makes certain decisions in concert that homeowners would otherwise make themselves.
You will want to carefully check out what restrictions apply - are pets allowed? Home offices? Can you paint and garden as you wish? You'll want to find out if the fees are within your budget, and how they might go up (for instance, to pay for any big repairs if there isn't already a responsible reserve fund). And you will want to be sure you're comfortable with the communal decision-making process in general.
You also owe it to yourself to make sure that any current boom has reached the condo complex you're interested in, with a good sales history and a promising future - and to figure out your financing prospects. Lenders give lower rates to buyers in developments with fewer renters and more owner-occupants (absentee ownership can affect both quality of life and property value).
These last two points are certainly ones in which the expertise of your local real estate professional can come in handy (ERA Select Homes is one company that has them both covered). With the right research, a condo can become not a compromise you can live with, but the place where you'd most like to live.