I'm ok without a garden, but I'd love to grow greens in a window box if that's a possibility in where we end up. We realized that we could look at a condo type unit that is on the ground floor that leads out to green space. That would help a lot for raising kids, I think, even though it won't be our own yard.
I'm loving everyones comments....please keep them coming if anyone else can give advice!!!
I think financially it could be really worth it for us, even after maintenance fees, also we think the challenge of living that minimally could be fun (or hell.. Haha!), and my dh LOVEs the idea of not having a big house and yard to Reno & maintain... But no yard at all is a hard thing to imagine for our kids. At 2.5 my ds can play in our yard while I do laundry by the back door and I'll miss that, and he might miss having a yard too. How do you keep your energetic toddlers happy in a tiny space with no yard? And keep your sanity? I guess I'll be able to spend more time out with them since I won't have to be inside cleaning every day.
We sold our big 2000+ sqft 4/2 house and downsized to a 2/2 second floor apartment. We have a soon-to-be 4 year old and a small elderly dog. We downsized to get out our house and to be debt-free. We plan on buying our forever home sometime in the next 5-6 years after DH retires from the military (not in this town though). We live in the Southern U.S., so while not cold, there are a good 6-7 months out of the year that it is really hot and not comfortable to be outside, Hot and humid and buggy! We have a 2 bed/2 bath, 1100-1200 sq ft, we also rent a small garage to hold our boat (row), bikes, etc.
Getting groceries upstairs by myself is tough, esp if dd falls asleep in the car. We live on the second floor because we wanted the "sun room" model and it only comes on the second floor.
We often hear our neighbors and they often hear us. I can smell the cigarette inside my house from the people downstairs who smoke on their porch. My next door neighbor smokes in his balcony and I can smell it drift in the front door when he's out there. I am constantly worried about the dog barking when I leave the house, or dd stomping/jumping/running around the house (the lady who lives below us works night shift ) I limit the amount of children who can come visit because of the noise issue.
Control over pesticides:
We have no control over the amount of pesticides and what not they spray all over the outside of the apartments. Who knows what they sprayed in here before we moved in.
Apartment carpet sucks, it's gross and does not stay clean.
There are not as many kids for dd to play with in an apt complex. Most of the people who live here are childless.
Walking the dog at night, when dh is at work and dd is sleeping. Worried about dog barking too.
We have a swimming pool to use and this is how we cope with the heat in the hot months. We utilize the pool for the bulk of our "outdoors" time in the hot season. This was the NUMBER 1 reason we chose an apartment rather than rent a small house.
We don't have to mow a lawn or maintain the property. But then this has its drawbacks (pesticides, etc.)
We're saving a lot of money, more than if we had stayed in our house. This is by far the biggest motivator to put up with all the cons.
We keep clutter and "stuff" to a minimum here.
Get a ground floor apartment, have in-house laundry, have a park/trails close by. Have a plan for getting sleeping kids indoors along w/bags of groceries ,etc.
We're in an apartment, and have been since well before having kids. We had 1 bedroom, which we shared with DD until she was about 3. Then we renovated to put in another bedroom (moved the kitchen to be part of the open plan living and dining room; and made the former kitchen into a bedroom). Now the 2 kids share a bedroom and DH and I have a bedroom. It works fine, but we have no outdoor space. The 3 biggest reasons we're moving are: 1-outdoor space; 2-neighborhood (ours is not especially kid-friendly. It's overcrowded and this shows in playgrounds, restaurants, attitudes of people); 3-DD just turned 8 and wants her own room. I do think she needs more privacy, especially as we have a boy and a girl. And they're getting to where DD has precious breakable objects while DS is in crazy play stage. Not a good combo!
If we had our own outdoor space, and/or if the kids were in school all day rather than homeschooling, I think we'd be fine here still. I know many people who do public/private schools and live in apartments the same size or smaller. But, no one's home from 8am to 6pm M-F, and that definitely makes a difference!
We live in a 3-bedroom apartment have been here for 13 years (since DD was almost 3 and DS was 1). It's on the 5th floor and has a roof-top on which we container-garden, BBQ, and hang out the laundry. We have an elevator that goes from the car-park in the basement to our floor.
As PP pointed out, it can be noisy (from other folks) but, we make noise too sometimes. With the kids you teach them to use indoor voices and carpet can also help so the patter of little feet doesn't bother your neighbors.
The complex we live in has a pool, a small playground, an indoor play-room (very small) and an exercise room (for adults). There is also space where the kids roller-skated, played hopscotch, etc. There were a lot of kids around when my kids were little, quite a gang would gather in the playground when the weather was good and home-work done.
I would recommend a flat either in a complex that has those sorts of facilities, OR one that is close to some public parks and/or a library or some sort of community center. One that is in a neighborhood w/ kids around your kids' ages, or a complex w/ a lot of families.
I think that it's been nice to raise my kids in a flat. I was never worried about "what are they doing" because the bedrooms are just off living room, and all the rooms are pretty close to each other.
I am a single mama with 2 kids--8yo DD and 6yo DS and we've lived in our tiny 2 bedroom apartment for 2 years now and I love it! I had actually recently been thinking about wanting to move someplace with a yard, but the neighborhood where I live is really expensive and I need to stay within certain boundaries so that my kids can continue going to their school (one of the best schools in the city with a huge waiting list). After I decided not to move, I really sat down and thought about all of the great things about living where I live and now I don't think I want to change a thing for quite awhile. I initially moved into this place for a combo of reasons--I was starting grad school and needed someplace that was closer to my school and wanted less maintenance (I had been renting a house with a big yard in the suburbs), plus the kids' school was a big draw.
My kids share a room and have bunk beds. It hasn't really been an issue with boy/girl sharing for us and my kids are definitely getting to the age where it starts to matter. I figure I can buy a little more time here and I have explained to them that if they want to continue going to their school, we're going to have to continue living here. We don't have a TV and they've really learned how to play well together and are super creative! We don't have very much stuff, as our place is only 575 sq ft, and that's a good excuse to request experiences as gifts, as opposed to stuff, and to get outside into the neighborhood and utilize the community parks and playgrounds.
Pros of apartment living (for me):
Cons of apartment living (for me):
Overall, I really, really love apartment living and have a hard time imagining going back into house living anytime soon. Totally doable with 2 kids...it just involves letting go of certain expectations and adjusting some day-to-day routines. Also, don't let current possessions/furniture dictate where you can live--thrift stores have pretty much anything you need to furnish a home for cheap! I've made the mistake of eliminating options because "my couch won't fit" or "my bed won't fit", which seems silly to me now. Good luck with your decision! :)
I've lived in both apartments and houses. They both have their pros and cons, but generally I prefer a house. The main issue with an apartment and smaller space is that you have really have to be on top of clutter and messes and everything as things can get out of hand really fast. If you are naturally organized and good with that, it can work well. But for me, it has been a real learning curve and I struggle every day. When you have more space. It was really nice having a dedicated playroom and schoolroom (we homeschool) so those things were kept in that room and not spilling out into the living room. But an apartment is definitely do-able.
We have never owned our own home or lived in a "real" home since we got married in 2003. We have two kids - 5 years and 9 months. I honestly have mixed feelings about apartment living for us, but I dislike it most of the time. The maintenance is a bonus. It's nice that I got a brand new refrigerator when mine died suddenly or that the hole I punched into the wall when my neighbor was obnoxiously blasting his music was repaired right away. The maintenance works for us because DH is no where near handy and I am only somewhat handy. We do have a lot of outdoor space around the complex, but they spray pesticides, fungicide and herbicide like it's water and you have the issue of people not picking up after their dogs. We have a small garden outside, but we can't plant anything edible because of all the chemicals they use. The landscapers are here once or twice a week and they have destroyed so much of our garden. Not only is it constant chemical warfare, but they are incompetent and they cut down our plants, pull up flowers, destroy pots and my son's garden decorations. The management company doesn't really care.
Space is a big issue. We have 950 sq ft, which is definitely doable, but these apartments lack adequate storage space. The closets are tiny. The walls are cheap, so you can hang much more than pictures - definitely no way to hand something for storage. The cabinets are absolutely tiny and don't hold much. Between the lack of pantry space in the kitchen and the miniscule freezer, it is really hard to save money by stocking up on dry goods or by freezing anything because we just don't have the space. My son wants a real bike (he has a tiny tricycle), but we can't get him one because there isn't a place to store it inside the apartment and you are not allowed to leave bikes outside. They will actually go around and throw your kid's bike in the trash if it is left outside.
We have a pool which is very nice. That's a plus. They have a gym, but I've never used it because we have a free YMCA membership.
Laundry is a pain. There are no hook ups in the apartment. We have to walk outside and down the block to use the small machines and it costs $3.00 a load. I am often overrun with laundry because you have to fight with your neighbors to get a machine, you can't do a good sized load and it's expensive. Plus, we are not allowed to wash comforters, bathroom rugs or small little area rugs. If they catch you, they fine you. Ask me how awesome that is when your kid gets hit with a stomach virus in the middle of the night. Also, our neighbors use copious amounts of fabric softener and fabric softener sheets and that crap absolutely coats the inside of the dryers. We cloth diaper and the laundry situation is a pain. We are not allowed to hook up a diaper sprayer. If they catch us with one, they will fine us.
Our complex does routine inspections a couple of times a year. They come to make sure your fire and carbon monoxide detectors work, inspect your house for clutter and bugs and violations. They are only required to give 24 hours notice by law, which is what they do. It just feels so violating to have them come in and look through our stuff. They love to come in and spray the houses with bugs. I have to fight them tooth and nail to keep the exterminators out of my house. We've hardly ever seen anything in here other than a few spiders and the occasional centipedes. No need for an exterminator. I've claimed chemical sensitivity for that one.
And the carpet issue sucks. We have the typical ugly beige carpets which are stained beyond belief. They automatically replace all carpets after residents move out. Even if you're there on a 3 months lease, they will replace the carpet. Yet, if the carpet they replace is stained, they will send you a bill for it. We expect to receive a large carpet bill when we move.
As far as finances, apartment living actually screwed us. If I had actually done what I wanted to do back in 2003 and bought a house, we would have been in a much better financial situation over the years. I listened to everyone else who said that apartment living allows you to save a bunch of money for a down payment. That has not been the case for us.
I am the lone dissenting opinion here. lol I know some people LOVE apartment living, but I am dying to have my own home.