The Benefits of Apartment Living for Families
TDS Reader Contributors
Winterizing an Apartment
Apartment Laundry Solutions
Moving to an Apartment
I was hoping that you could put together a collection of perspectives from your readers on their experiences with the benefits to living in an apartment or other high density housing (especially from those with children). Moving into a city and likely high-density housing (apartment) may be in our future. Having only lived in small towns and never an apartment, I have no idea what the advantages are. In true "cup half full" fashion, I was hoping to hear what apartment dwellers with children do to make it work for them.
Jasmine T. in Canada
Family Time Abounds
We lived in an apartment for over three years and our daughters were preschool age to early school age at the time. There were several advantages to living in an apartment. The biggest one was the fact that without the upkeep of a house, we had so much more extra time to spend quality and quantity time with the girls. Also, because we did not have the space to stash a lot of items, we found that we spent less money. We refused to pay for a storage space, so we always considered where an item would fit before we made a purchase. Finally, the complex that we lived in had several amenities, including a pool, a playground, and an exercise facility. Therefore, we had easy access to free entertainment, which is something that every parent of a young child appreciates. It has now been several years since we moved out of our happy little space and our girls are preteens, but we still fondly remember those years as good ones.
More Resources for Children
Big cities often have wonderful resources for children that are not so easy to find in a small town. Search out the city's library. It will most likely have wonderful programs for children, such as "story times." This also gives the parent a chance to meet other parents who have young children and to make new friends. We lived in an urban apartment when my children were young, and I have very fond memories of it.
A Quick Call to Maintenance
As a single mom with a young daughter when we moved in, I really appreciated the security of living in an apartment complex. If there was a plumbing problem or a broken appliance, a phone call took care of everything. We developed relationships with the management and maintenance staff during our eight years there, as well as our neighbors. Our complex had an indoor pool and clubhouse that we used quite a bit. Sleepover parties were what I called "Swim 'em, Feed 'em, DVD 'em!" The girls always had a lot of fun and used up the excess energy that can be a problem in an apartment.
BB in Michigan
The Benefits of Cultural Diversity
Having lived in NYC for 10 years and now in a semi rural area of Pennsylvania, I can see a lot of advantages to city apartment dwelling.
- No lawn care or housing repair costs
- Extensive public transportation with no real need for a vehicle
- Cheap and free cultural activities abound.
- Cities tend to attract colleges, which mean free or cheap college events, babysitters, and adult evening classes.
- In a city situation, you have neighborhoods. Visiting them is a great way to experience new foods and cultures without going far.
- Ethnic neighborhoods sprout ethnic groceries as well, which tend to be cheaper on certain items.
Safety issues are largely related to neighborhood, so choose wisely and take reasonable precautions.
Pros, Cons and Suggestions
Apartments can be wonderful, but you should go in with your eyes open.
- You're not responsible for repairs (financially or physically), but buy renters insurance. If a pipe bursts, the apartment won't be responsible for your destroyed bed.
- You benefit from other people cooling/heating their homes, etc.
- You have no lawn to maintain, but you probably have access to a small gym, pool, and green area.
- Apartments are often in desirable areas of town, which allows you to walk to the grocery store, movie theater, etc. This usually isn't possible in the suburbs.
- Professional management can save a lot of hassles.
- Noise can be a problem. Especially with young children, get a ground floor apartment, so that you don't have a dispute with your downstairs' neighbor about the sound of your children running. Every sound will be magnified, so even normal walking can be heard in some apartments. The same is true with yelling, loud TV, etc. Prepare accordingly.
- Although some apartments have large square footage, most have less than your average home.
- It's not your property, so you are not in control.
- Research potential apartments online. Some are wonderfully managed, others are not. There are all sorts of websites that discuss this. Ask for recommendations from people you trust. Never rent an apartment without checking these things out. I had a friend whose apartment ownership changed and suddenly no repairs/maintenance were made. Things went downhill quickly, but she still had several months left on her lease.
- Be prepared to pay a reasonable amount. You don't want to end up "in the slums" because you tried to be cheap. You will be living in close proximity with your neighbors, and you'll want to feel safe.
- Check police reports of the apartment (available at local police stations). It'll give you a sense of any danger.
- Go by several times at different times/days of the week to get a feel for the apartment complex. Apartments can't give you demographic information on their tenants (it's illegal), but do you see what you want? Are there kids playing on weekends? Does this appear to be almost exclusively young singles? Can you sleep in on Saturday? You'll only know by seeing. How many one-bedroom apartments versus larger apartments are there? That'll give you a sense of clientele.
- If you have a car, where will you park? Is it convenient and safe? If you don't have a car, how convenient/safe is public transportation?
- Ask questions about how well insulated for noise the apartments are. Pay attention to this when you visit.
- Make sure you know the extras. Are utilities included in rent or not? Management fees? Trash?
- Trust your gut. Does the apartment feel good to you? Do you like the leasing agents? You will be working with these people regularly over the life of your lease.
Calculator: How much mortgage can I afford?
Take Advantage of Public Transportation
One advantage is that in the city, you are within walking distance of everything. The bus lines go everywhere and there are more of them in the city. I loved living in downtown Sacramento, CA with the Capitol Park blocks away. The community center was nearby; we could walk to concerts and theatre. My son got to know all of the local merchants and even the homeless looked out for him because he was tender hearted and gave them empty cans. I never felt a greater sense of community than when I lived "downtown." I live out in the country now, and have to have a car to get anywhere. Neighbors here are great, but there is a reason why our acreage separates us! Most folks in the country like their space. People in the city are used to living with/near others, and in some ways, they are just friendlier. At least, that was how it was when I lived in the city.
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