Apartment living: Suitable for families?

This is a collaborative post

A growing number of families are beginning to look at apartment living as a viable choice. It’s not too much of a surprise when you see the astonishing price tag attached to family homes these days. And the reality is that if you want to live in a nice area with good schools for your child’s education, you might have to think about getting something cheaper.

These days, we can definitely say that flats and apartments are not just the domain of singles, young couples and downsizers. Without a doubt, they are also a home for growing families, and many of these households have no intention of moving into a bigger house. The big question is, how can a family make a go of it in terms of space and comfort? Let’s take a look at some of your options.



The basics

Let’s get started with one of the biggest problems that many people have with bringing up a family in a flat or an apartment – social norms. It’s normal to want to have a house when you are bringing up young children, and it’s fair to say that there is a little societal pressure, especially here in the UK. But just because apartment living tends to be seen as for young people, singletons and the older generation here, it doesn’t mean it’s anything to be ashamed of if you have a family.

When you look abroad – in Europe or Asia – for example, this UK cultural “norm” doesn’t really exist. Many families live in flats quite comfortably – sometimes for generations. So, if you can manage to avoid the need to ‘keep up with the Joneses,’ it’s reasonable to assume that life in an apartment could work for you.


But why live in a flat?

Apartment living offers a huge array of benefits. As mentioned above, it gives you an opportunity to live in an area that you otherwise might not be able to afford. Some families live in apartments to get a foot on the property ladder, and live there for a few years and leave once they have made a reasonable profit they can use for a deposit. There are others that simply prefer to go for an inner city lifestyle – they want to be close to their places of work, and that shorter commute means you get home quicker for more family time.

In practical terms, apartment lifestyles tend to be a lot easier to look after than a typical family home. There’s only one floor, in most cases, and that can cut down on your cleaning time significantly. Most apartments come managed, too, meaning that you only have to concern yourself with the inside of the house – your landlord or the leaseholder has to take care of the external parts.

Size is a common worry for prospective parents, too. But as you can see on websites such as i property, not all flats are small. In fact, on a square footage basis, some are bigger than small homes – yet cost significantly less. But of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and apartment lifestyles do have their bad points – let’s take a look at those right now.



Apartment living – the low points

Apartment living with a growing family is not without its challenges. And in many cases it will be things that you take for granted that become problematic. For example, when you do your monthly shopping you might have to lug everything – and everyone if you have tiny kids – up the stairs. Some apartments might have shared laundry/drying areas, too, which might prove problematic with neighbours and the various protocols you have in place to decide who can use what, when.

There’s the all important issues of child safety, too. When you are living in a space with stairs, elevated windows and balconies, you need to be on alert 24/7 when the kids start to crawl and walk. And of course, there are also the hazards of communal driveways to consider.

Depending on the size of your flat, everyday chores can become logistical nightmares, too. If you don’t have lots of clever storage solutions and an iron hand when it comes to cleaning and decluttering, it won’t take long for life to start feeling like it is getting on top of you. And finally, one of the biggest issues for parents with small children is that you might not have access to a garden. While balconies are OK for giving you some fresh air, the reality is that if your little one needs to stretch their legs and burn off some steam, you can’t just open the door to a big backyard.  


Will I like the apartment lifestyle?

It’s also worth bearing in mind that some people just don’t like living in flats, while others love it. There is an element of community involved, so if you like to be left alone and in the quiet, it’s probably best to try something different. Apartments are usually built in busy town centres, too, so perfect if you love the liveliness of city life, but less so if you get tetchy at the thought of being surrounded by people and vehicles.

That said, while it depends on where you are living, in terms of security, most modern apartments are incredibly safe. It is likely you will be living in a gated community with access codes or locks keeping people out, and few burglars are going to try and scale a few stories to try and get into your home while you are out.



What about the cost?

We’ve discussed how apartments tend to be cheaper than houses, but it’s not just the purchase price or rental charges that you need to consider – there are a whole bunch of factors involved. First of all, don’t forget that there will be additional charges to pay for the management of the external grounds. These service charges tend to change on an annual basis depending on what the leaseholder or property manager needs to do in terms of upkeep.

Quite often these charges will bring the cost of your outgoings to a level similar to that of a house in another area. But this doesn’t mean that living in a home is more efficient for your bank account. If you move to a new build apartment, for example, then the chances are that it will be incredibly environmentally friendly, as it has to adhere to modern building regulations. This means you will be spending considerably less on things like heating.

Think of the money you will save by living close to your workplace, too. The reality for most people is that townhouses are way out of reach in terms of cost, so a nice, spacious apartment is a great way of keeping yourself close to town. And that means you can afford to do that little bit extra for your kids when it comes to giving them opportunities such as after school clubs or activities.


The apartment as a stepping stone

Many young people’s first home is a flat. And after five or so years, there is a good chance that you will make a little extra by selling the apartment and having that all-important lump sum that you need to have for a deposit when the time comes to buy a house.

You may decide not to sell it at all – and keep it as an investment property. Who knows, perhaps it won’t just be your first home, but also the first step in building up a property portfolio? If your flat is in a popular part of town, there’s no doubt that you will ever be worried about finding tenants, as long as you keep it in good condition.


Tips for apartment living with small kids

Finally, let’s suggest a few things to do if you decide to bring up a young family in an apartment. First of all, it would be a good idea to give your kids the bigger bedroom. Unless you want to hand over your living area to them, and surrender your comfort space to vast swathes of toys, teddies and books, it’s best to give them as much room as possible. Not only will they love their big room, but you will, too – it will take you less time to clear up in one room than it will with toys spread across the entire apartment.

We’ve mentioned keeping your flat decluttered, but it’s such an important point that we should underline it. Get into the habit of throwing things away – or dropping them off to your local charity shop when you are finished with them. The reality is that storage space tends to be at a premium in flats, regardless of the size of the floor space.

Finally, make sure you love going outside. Apartment living can be wonderful, but there will also be times that you need to get out. The great thing is you are likely to have communal areas within the complex, and a park nearby – and all that walking will help keep you super fit. 

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