The American Dream is a house with a yard and a white picket fence. But is that really the only option for a good life? Aren’t there some disadvantages to going with the whole detached single-family scenario? Wouldn’t it be good to think a little more flexibly about what an ideal home might be?
For example, there are a whole lot of attractive aspects to apartment living. The reduced maintenance is an obvious one, but there are a lot of other reasons those nesting in smaller spaces find themselves relaxed and happy. Here’s a sampling:
Less space for unimportant stuff
Little space for storage means you can’t let stuff accumulate. Call it the self-inflicted junk patrol. With no basement, garage, or attic in which to fling all your knick-knacks, everything you’ve got in your apartment is going to be something you really want to keep.
No yard care = time and money savings
The average American homeowner spent more than 75 hours a year and some $360 caring for his or her yard in 2010. Water for the lawn gobbles up a big chunk of the family budget: lawn care is estimated to account for almost one-third of all residential water use in the U.S. That adds up.
In an apartment, the labor and expense of yard work is out of the equation. It might seem sad not to have your own little green space, but when you think about what it really takes to keep that square of heaven blooming, you might be glad to head to the park for a picnic instead.
Fees and taxes out the window
Many homeowners have to pay fees to homeowners associations. These charges can tack hundreds of dollars a month—anywhere from an average of $100-$700, depending on your area—onto the household budget. Renting an apartment instead frees up that cash for other things.
Relative tax rates can also make city living much more attractive. In the New York City area, living in a house in the suburbs costs around 18 percent more than life in a city condo, in part because of the calculus of property and income taxes in each place.
Many apartment complexes offer recreational amenities you might have to pay extra for otherwise, such as a pool, a playground, gathering spaces for parties, and exercise facilities. These resources can be lifesavers for families with small children who need outdoor space to let off steam.
The city at your fingertips
Apartment living is usually part of the high-density development found in cities, which means that you’re likely to be within easy striking distance of all a city has to offer. Apartment dwellers are more likely to be able to jump on public transportation to catch a play, eat at a great restaurant, or visit cultural attractions
So next time you dream about the little house on the big lot, think about whether it’s all it’s cracked up to be. And then imagine yourself tucking into a cozy apartment without a knick-knack or lawnmower in sight. You might just like the idea.
What do you like best about apartment living? What other advantages are there to apartments versus townhomes, condos, or single-family housing? Does your apartment manager do anything extraordinary that makes your apartment complex really work for you?