It’s no surprise to anyone that more and more families in Australia will spend time renting an apartment while their children grow up. Why? Some people may not have expected to live in an apartment as a family. But people are buying houses later in life and having children later in life. Apartment living as a family may come down to affordability or parents may be trying to get their feet on the property ladder, or it may be they simply enjoy the benefits of living close to their work and the lifestyle this fosters as a family. It might be unwise to make a blanket statement that Australian families are rejecting the traditional dream of home ownership as new generations grow up in more expensive cities, but for whatever reason, apartment living as a family is increasingly becoming an attractive option for many people, especially in NSW and Victoria.
The benefits of apartment living as a family
- Lifestyle. Apartment living can foster an active lifestyle. Why? Because you may tend to go insane with the kids cooped up in a small living space, so parks become your backyard. So does the general community, such as shops, libraries, cafes, pools etc. These regular outings push your children to develop strong social skills.
- Security. The security of your belongings at home is one less thing to worry about as a parent.
- Affordability. Whatever reason you may want or need to live in an apartment, it can be more affordable than being locked in to a mortgage.
- Freedom. While you are renting an apartment as a family you don’t have to worry about the upkeep of your home, beyond your responsibilities as a tenant.
- Family life. Close to the city and/or close to your work, you are free to enjoy more time with your children, rather than suffering the commute.
- Values. You will soon appreciate what matters and become less flippantly sentimental. You can’t feed your child a chocolate brownie and let them go nuts in some far wing of the house. Nor can you buy them whatever toy they want. Rather, you can instil in them an appreciation for items of real value.
- Safety. Children have a safe place to play and apartments may come with amenities, such as a pool, which you don’t have to repair or worry about the upkeep of.
The limitations of apartment living as a family
- One of the hardest parts of apartment living is when the lease ends. Reduce your stress by sussing out the landlord before renting to see whether they are a long-term option. Property developers are quickly cottoning on to a rise in family rentals, and are beginning to build properties intended for long-term leases with families.
- Less control. You can’t do everything you want with the property. But this is offset by the fact that there are less things to go wrong in your apartment and less maintenance required, saving you time and money when you need it most.
- Less space. Anyone who tries to tell you being a parent can be clean and tidy if you put your mind to it is lying straight to your face. Kids are messy, loud and unpredictable. But an apartment may allow you to more easily manage this chaos, or it may make it so much harder. This depends on how you use your space. One thing you can’t avoid though: where do you hang your washing? Consider using retractable clothes lines within the apartment, as long as you can attach them to the wall with your landlord’s permission.
- Social pressure. Be prepared to have everyone ask you why you aren’t living in a house in the suburbs. You may be able to handle this, but your children will begin to feel this pressure. This can foster healthy conversations between you and your kids or it can create resentment, that’s up to you.
- Close proximity to neighbours. Kids scream and neighbours have parties. This is unavoidable. Try establishing healthy relationships with your neighbours to avoid any meltdowns.
- Less ‘you’ time. Those kids are only ever a few metres away, so look for ways to find some peace.
Tips and tricks for apartment living as a family
- Furniture gets used, really used, in an apartment. Buy furniture that will be durable and doesn’t show its age so much. In other words, avoid white.
- Buy your kids presents that are somewhat disposable or that add to your home’s decor, not toys that will clog space. For instance: art supplies, books (these you can get rid of as they age), edible chemistry sets, edible plants etc.
- Don’t get sentimental. Or get sentimental in the right way. Value the things that have emotional value, while avoiding the pitfalls of buying too much for your kids that leads to a crowded living space. Always keep some space free for your mind to find some clarity within. This means avoiding filling every nook, cranny and corner.
- Get outside. Whether you go to the park, the library or the shops, get out of the apartment!