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Apartment Living with toddlers

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hi, any of you have experience on living with small children in an apartment, possibly on a second or third floor? We're relocating and moving out of state and finding the right apartment and right landlord has been a struggle. Many are too small, too much money, don't accept pets and we have a little dog. But we found one that accepts pets, is a pretty affordable rent, and it is nice inside, newish looking kitchen, tile in the shower, three bedrooms, a living room, dining room, new carpet, shelves built into the walls. And this is an area where we already looked at a few places and it just wasn't as good. One place, the current tenant told us how the landlord was involved in a drug ring, and I googled his name and she was right. Another place was a mobile home, in rough shape but still sort of livable, except for not a single closet in the place. It's getting harder and harder to find somewhere and my husband has been away for over eight months living in another state during the week while we worked until we could get a place.


The drawbacks to this place, climbing two flights of stairs. I already climb one flight with my children, not fun, but not the worst thing. The other is that when I walked in, I could clearly smell cigarette smoke coming from the bottom floor apartment. It traveled up the stairs a bit too. The landlord said she could smell it and was mad about that. Then, two of my three children, the 2 and 3 year old boys, were with me, but my five year old daughter was not. There was nothing in the apartment, a wide open space, so the boys began to run and dance. She said it was fine since they'd obviously been on a long car ride, but I had to ask, would it disturb the people downstairs? They don't do that all the time and I tell my three year old to not run inside all the time, but he never seems to step lightly just while walking from one room to another. The told her husband to go downstairs to see if they could hear it (the second floor apartment was empty but another woman and child are moving in) and he could. They then discussed putting a thick pad and carpet down on that said room the children were making noise in. The rest is mostly carpeting already. She said she is pretty much thinking about it and talking with her husband at this point. I need to tell her my reservation with the place, she said she was mad about the smoking but does that mean it will stop.


She said she wants to help me because she can sense my exhaustion with the whole process and she is right. If she in fact says the person will not smoke inside anymore, is it still worth it to try and do this? Is it feasible to expect my children to stop running, jumping and dancing? Nobody lives downstairs from us here so I have never had to worry about this before. She also said if they could play towards one end of the apartment, because one end has the bedrooms where future tenant will be sleeping, the other end has nothing underneath it.


Any thoughts?

post #2 of 13
We have a toddler and we live on the second floor of a building in a huge complex. It is mostly military families here. Above us is a family with two little girls who run constantly. Below us is a single guy in the army. Our neighbors across the landing smoke pot like its going out of style. Getting up a flight of stairs with her and groceries requires a carrier and multiple trips (or I bully the pot smokers into helping) but if we got a ground floor apartment, I wouldn't feel safe leaving windows open. I think that if they are already fussing at you about noise, they will continue to act like they're doing you a favor...
post #3 of 13

I can't speak about the noise level, but certainly can about the stairs. We live in a stand alone house on a long and skinny hilly lot, the house next door is 2-3 feet from my kitchen window, thank goodness she has noisy kids as well because I know she can hear mine all day long.  I have a steep set of rock stairs outside that I have to use to access the house and then two more flights inside that I climb up and down constantly. I either leave the toddler strapped in the carseat and carry the groceries to where I can I still see him, come back repeat and then move them to the next level once I have him inside or I have to take him inside and figure out how to keep him safe and secure while I carry everything up. I do this multiple times a day because I have 4 kids. I am either hauling in groceries or carrying a load of crap down to the car or carrying up 3 backpacks, lunch boxes, snow gear, etc... after school. 

If our stairs were different then I would wear the toddler on my back while I load/unload but because of how uneven they are, I have fallen so many times, as have my children, that I don't dare wear him. Another trick is to use a huge carabiner and to feed the straps of cloth grocery bags through the carabiner and carry them up that way. We've just gotten used to the stairs and it really isn't a huge issue but the noise would be with me. There is no way I could keep all my kids from running around every single day.  

post #4 of 13
If the second floor tenant works full time, there wouldn't be too many hours where the running would be an issue. Maybe you could go over on the weekend and meet that possible new neighbor to size up the situation. Just let the landlord know, so it won't seem like your snooping.
post #5 of 13

As a landlord, I'd wonder why she has two apartments empty. Also the smokers could move and even worse smokers could move in after them, as well as just below you. If you can't seal it off and you don't like exposing your children to the smoke, I'd keep looking. To me cigarette smoke isn't that big a deal, but to some people it is and it could get much worse. As for the noise, carpet padding doesn't help much. Sound proofing has to be done inside the floor to make it worth while. You can still hear all the thumps and high pitched squeals, through carpet padding. It sounds like she is just desperate for tenants. A desperate landlord won't be as selective when choosing your new neighbors and won't readily kick out or bother another tenant if they're causing you trouble. If she's ready to move in your "noisy kids" on top of her existing tenants, who's to say she won't move in a load of binge-drinking college kids just below you?

However, it could also be a great place and you might love it, those are just things I'd consider when renting a shared space.

post #6 of 13

There is no place in the world where normal regular people are prohibited from smoking in their own homes. I don't even know if it's legal for a landlord to prohibit it, but clearly this one has not and she can't just change the rules. I would definitely not count on that. And even if she did the smoker will likely be bitter about it and that would make him/her more likely to complain about your kids, perhaps. And in any case you'll still smell the smoke because that person isn't gonna just quit. Maybe they'll lean out the window, maybe they'll continue to smoke anyway. Who knows. I would say if you take that place you take it under the assumption you'll be living over a smoker...

post #7 of 13
Good point about the smoker. If that person smokes outside, instead, then you'd walk through the smoke going in and out, or have it drifting in an open window.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

Really? Because most apartment ads I do see say, "No Smoking!" or "No Pets/Smoking" depending. Sometimes it doesn't mention it and only one time I saw "smokers ok." Most people don't like it because it smells, is toxic, will ruin the walls, is a fire hazard and a health hazard. The lady acted mad as though she had said no smoking to the person or I'm thinking maybe it never occurred to her to even say something when the person moved in. The husband and wife are realtors and recently bought the place. Perhaps they're new at being landlords. The apartment is beautiful but I just don't know if it's going to work for us and the woman is unsure on her end too. She does seem to genuinely want to help us, that's why she was trying to think up ways to help us, but she is hesitant as am I. I will end up with a constant sinus infection being over the smoke and I cannot imagine the children and their perfect bodies breathing that in. I quit when I had my first because I didn't want the poison my kids. My grandmother has a tiny, one bedroom place and she smokes very heavily and I haven't been there in years because of it. I see her at my mom's house instead. So most likely it's not good for us. I have another apartment lined up to look at Monday.

post #9 of 13
I would highly recommend a bottom unit due to sound. I guess having part of your place with no one under you might help if your kids can play in that area.

If you really can live with smoke near you I would be very concerned. As other have said, it isn't like the person will quit.
post #10 of 13

I live in a college town and most rentals here are non smoking.  It is someone else's property so they can make the rules about that and pets.  But as someone else said, that could force them outside; which could be worse. 


We lived is a third floor apartment until my youngest of 3 was almost 2.  our downstairs neighbor was great but my guys didn't run a whole lot inside.  We took them to a near by park - a lot.  About the stairs - I never had to worry about exercise when we lived there.  I went up and down the stairs several times a day with a without stuff and kids and it was great.  Then we bought our house all on one level and now I have to work at it!

post #11 of 13
Originally Posted by Babina's Mommy View Post

Really? Because most apartment ads I do see say, "No Smoking!" or "No Pets/Smoking" depending. Sometimes it doesn't mention it and only one time I saw "smokers ok.".


In Ontario, Canada, landlords can say "no smoking" and "no pets" all they want, it isn't enforceable. It's nice when tenants respect the wishes of the property owner but they're also completely within their rights to sign for an apartment which doesn't allow pets and move in with 3 Saint Bernards lol

post #12 of 13

OP, in your location is it possible to rent a condo from an owner directly?  If a smaller place is what you need for now, I've found that condos are usually a bit more "solid" for having children running around, as opposed to a rental community.  Even the most well behaved children get a little rambunctious!  As a small child myself, I grew up in apartments.  I was an only child for many years, but even just having friends come over could get noisy.  Sometimes it rains and it's just not possible for energetic little ones to get outside every day and it's important that you feel that your space allows for this.  I live in a condo now with just one squealing/shreiking/crying 13.5 month old.  She was also born here if that gives you an indication of the amount of noise I feel comfortable with in my house.


Maybe you could find something nice directly from an owner on Craigslist? In some markets this is possible, but big cities are usually all through landlords/realtors. That said, with children I am super selective of my environment.  If being around a smoker is a big deal for you (me too!), I'd just keep looking. Keep looking until you find an apartment that has neighbors that you are ok with being around your children every day.  I think the stairs are workable, but good neighbors and allowing your kids to be kids is not really negotiable in my book.  Just curious why you are looking for an apartment as opposed to a rental house?  Everywhere I've lived rental homes are cheaper and bigger and the condos and apartments are more expensive.  It's a trade off on being completely car dependent and having space or living where it's more walkable but paying more.  Is that the case for you too?

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

The lady from the apartment just called and I couldn't find the phone, my daughter just found it, haha. But it's interesting what she could have to say. I'll let you guys know asap. Apartment itself is very nice. The situations surrounding it aren't the best.


Here, if the landlord doesn't like what you are doing they would definitely enforce the rule, even have you evicted. You sign a lease, you definitely have to follow the rules unless you ask for special permission. Many landlords will bend on some rules but on smoking...eh. It's their building so you are basically in their home.


Where I'm looking, the houses for rent are definitely more. I am going to contact someone on a mobile home for rent though, with option to buy, and it's brand new!


I want something a little bit more rural...not too much but off the beaten path is good. I like quiet and it's very woodsy and the city can be a little rough around the edges and the rents tend to be a little cheaper in the country. But also smack in the city they seem to be cheaper. The suburbs seem to be more. I could write the book on the rents in this area, I've been looking so long, haha.


 My kids in fact have had cabin fever, this has been a long hard winter, but yesterday we got out for a long hike to go seal watching, it was great and we really needed it.

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