There are pro's and con's to each situation. I think it's really individual.
For instance, I hate long commutes... but I also grew, over the years, to hate apartment complexes too. I can't do ground-floor apartments, because I hate the sound of people tromping around overhead. I also feel that second-floor units are safer from break-ins (this was a hard feeling to break even when I moved to a really nice complex, since I'd lived in dangerous neighborhoods for so long). However, I really don't recommend stairs with young kids. There's also the balcony issue - even with good rails, I was always nervous about the kids being on the balcony.
But there are up-sides to the no maintenance worries
thing too. You don't have to deal with anything yourself - just call the office and they'll send someone over for you (if you're in that good complex). There's usually the nice pool and if you're lucky, there's a playground. Plus that gloriously short commute.
Having finally gotten out of apartments, though, I won't go back unless there is literally NO other choice. I am in a duplex now, but it's close enough to being in a house that I can live with it. It's not a complex, but a freestanding building with only one shared wall. It's got a yard and I can plant my flower garden in peace. No stairs. No parking lots to fight over spaces (or speed bumps, though our street could use some). The husband has a commute that is longer than he'd like it to be, but that's his own fault - we originally chose this place because he was so close to his job that he could ride a bike to work and be there in 5 minutes. (Then he got fired
So I guess, really, it depends on what you want out of your living arrangement. Personally speaking, if I was the one working, I wouldn't want a commute longer than 30-40 minutes in order to get to my own home, with my own yard and my own driveway, but I wouldn't sacrifice that personal living space in order to be closer to work if it meant transitioning back to an apartment. That's just me.