Why I’m Loving Apartment Living After 35 Years in a House

I grew up in a house. After a few years in college in apartments, I quickly moved into a house after graduation. I thought that was what I wanted. After recently switching back to an apartment, I'm realizing I haven't been organizing my life around what I value most.

. 4 min read. Minimalism, Personal.

At the end of last year, we sold our house and moved across the country into an apartment. After owning a home for the past 11 years, and living in one growing up, the only time I’d ever lived in an apartment before was with roommates in college. I always assumed I’d want a house and it would make the most financial sense to have one. What I found in those 11 years of home ownership was that I really didn’t like being a homeowner.

I knew I didn’t like being a landlord after an earlier experience, but being a homeowner was completely different – right? Turns out a number of the things I didn’t enjoy about landlording are actually just part of home ownership. After almost 3 months in an apartment, I’m absolutely loving it. Here are a few things I’m happy about.

Maintenance and Repairs

This 3 months span is already the longest in my 35 years being in and around our home that there hasn’t been something new that’s needed maintenance or repairs. As a homeowner, I constantly had a todo list in the back of my head of everything I should fix. This list always seemed to grow faster than I could weed it down. While I think it would have been possible to get ahead of it (I hear rumors that some people actually do), I was never able to get there.

This maintenance list included everything from replacing broken kitchen cabinet handles to emergency roof repairs, to broken pipes in walls, to cracked tiles and many more. In Todoist, my task manager of choice, I had an entire section devoted to “Home”. I was more than happy to archive this section after the move.

There are people who enjoy working on houses. Just like there are people that enjoy working on cars or enjoy programming. I never found a way to enjoy this work. It always seemed like time away from doing what I really wanted. The fewer things to repair and maintain the more time I can spend on things I want to focus on.

Scheduled Maintenance

In our new apartment, the dishwasher didn’t work. Being able to just call someone and have them come into our apartment (when we weren’t there) was amazing. You’re telling me that I don’t need to even be here when maintenance is done? YES PLEASE! Whenever we needed work done on the house over the years, it was always a dance between Mrs. Minafi and me to figure out who would take off work and be home for it.

Now we just know (and actually like) the people running the apartment complex, and trust them in our apartment (even with our dog).

Enlarge

utah-bed
Our new bedroom is small, but works.

No Yard to Work On

If I had to give just one thing I love about the switch to apartment life, it’s the lack of a yard to clean up and work on. Being cheap, we never hiring landscapers to pretty-up our yard when we were residents there. We brought in a team to clean things up when we sold it though.

For a time, we had a mowing and edging service, which was some of the best money I have ever spent. If there’s one recommendation for past/future-me, it’s to be less cheap in hiring people for things I have absolutely no desire to do.

For a time, I did grow a garden which was fun, but a lot of work. The trouble with doing yard work in Florida is that you really have to enjoy sweating outside if you want to make good progress. I have tremendous respect for the army of people in pickup trucks with trailers of yardwork equipment buzzing around. They have a hard job, that’s made even more taxing by the intense Florida heat and humidity.

Enlarge

utah-apt
Our kitchen once cleaned up.

Less to Clean

Our previous house was a 1,700 sq/ft house with 3 bedrooms plus an office. When we purchased the house 12 years ago I really didn’t know what we wanted. Maybe we’d have kids? Maybe we could rent out a room? Having those options seemed to make sense at the time.

Now, it’s clear that I was buying a lot more house than I needed. We had two bedrooms that we spent more time cleaning than using. Closets that were used entirely for our storage, rather than guest storage. I have a feeling that our entire apartment now is about the size of our main open area.

Just As Quiet

We lucked out in our new apartment. Even though we’re in a large apartment complex, in 3 months here we haven’t heard a peep from neighbors. One of the main reasons is likely because we’re on the top floor, which means no loud footsteps above us.

We originally staying in temporary housing here in SLC. That temporary housing is the apartment right below us. What’s awesome about that is the apartment below us is empty most of the time, then will be in use for part of the month on contract with corporate clients.  We haven’t heard a thing from them, and they haven’t complained about our loud footsteps, dancing or Dance Dance Revolution (kidding! we haven’t played DDR – yet).

Enlarge

2017-12-14-16.40.08
Our kitchen when the movers left.

Not Everything is Perfect

Even though I’m loving it overall, there are caveats that we’re finding to this decision.

  • We’re on the 4th floor (where the first 2 are parking). Walking up 6 flights of stairs is no joke.
  • The price of the apartment is comparable to what we’d pay in rent. At $2100 for the apartment, pet rent, 2 parking spots, storage unit on site + internet/cable it’s more then we planned to spend initially.
  • Taking our dog out is no longer as easy as opening the back door and letting her roam around the yard. Now it takes real effort.
  • We have furniture in a storage unit within the building that wouldn’t make sense in our new place. Doing something with this furniture is part of my February Goal of Using Everything.
  • It’s more than likely that each year our rent here would rise. In that time, I also wouldn’t be reaping the rewards of a growing housing market.

I can’t say I know where we’ll want to live in 10 years or 20 years, but I foresee us being very content living in an apartment for (at least a few) years to come!

What are your thoughts on apartment living vs household living? Which would you prefer to live in? Would that change over time?

15 comments

  1. I have always lived in a house, other than 2 years at a University. My brother made the opposite decision, choosing apartment life even though he makes a nice salary. Over the years, I have to envy him not spending so much time on his place. Although my husband and I do home projects, when we have traveled and pared down, I find it is so freeing.

    Good food for thought. I know a lot of people in the FI community debate this. It’s hard to make a change once you do own a home, so if someone is moving or has not yet made a home purchase, that is the time to give this some serious thought. Your apartment looks cool!

    1. Thanks! You’re absolutely right on the difficulty to change. About 6 years into home ownership we wanted to try apartment living, but making the change then would’ve been financially irresponsible.

      Just paring things down like you did sounds like the best middle ground. Less to concern yourself with today and easier to move if you decide to later.

  2. I am super jealous of your top-floor apartment because my building is horribly insulated and I CANNOT STAND being able to hear conversations and every single step my upstairs neighbors take! But other than that, renting is awesome. Water heater or washing machine broken? Not my problem or my super expensive month! Perhaps one day I’ll own property (it’s not likely but it’s not impossible) but for now I’m enjoying the greatly reduced responsibilities of renting as opposed to owning.

    1. Ah man, that’s a rough noise situation. Is it a newish building? Or or an older one? Seems like newer ones are usually better if built well.

  3. We live in a high rise and we really like it. No yard work unless you want to. There a community garden for those people. Our building is mostly concrete so the units are very well insulated. No repair and maintenance is good too.
    We’ll probably move into a house soon, though. We need more space.

    I like condo, it’s a nice compromise between living in a house and apartment. The only big issue is the high HOA fees.

    1. It’s interesting to me that you have had rental units and prefer condo/apts. for the same reason I prefer one I lean away from landlording. I can see he appeal though – when the issues aren’t in your face everyday it’d feel less stressful I imagine. Do you feel when you move into a house you’ll spend more or less time in the rental game?

  4. Having downsized from a 5/4 house (empty nester) into a one bedroom apartment, I hate it! My home was a new build, so I had no maintenance issues. I had a pool and a desert landscape (gotta love Vegas), so no yard work either. My apartment walls and floors are very thin, I have called security twice on my neighbors upstairs for loud music. i miss going home and jumping into my pool as well as sitting outside on the deck. I’m sure I won’t be purchasing a big house like the one I moved out of but I will be purchasing a home in the future.

    1. This is awesome feedback Mimi! All the things you listed are the exact reason why I didn’t prefer homeownership, but given the right home chooses like you did they can be minified.

      That sounds like a not great apartment situation though :/ At least you can move after your lease is up!

  5. I could totally see enjoying the simplicity of going back to an apartment for some of the reasons you mentioned, mostly related to maintenance. However I have a pretty small house at 1500 square feet, and the main thing I could not give up is my patio. It’s my outdoor zen space and where I think the best and hang out the most. So I guess if I could find an apartment with an awesome patio I’d be sold!

  6. Great article! My husband and I are in the process of getting our four-bedroom home ready to sell and moving into an apartment or rental house. We are officially hanging up the home ownership keys and moving onto brighter pastures, those filled with weekends and money free of fixing things. I CANNOT wait!

  7. I’m confused….but it may be a US / UK thing. Here in the UK, you still have to do all your own repairs if you live in a flat, exactly the same as a house. There is no difference, and you could argue a flat is more awkward, as you’ve got neighbours to consider.

    1. I’ve lived in UK for 4.5, never rented the whole house or the whole flat. So, never needed to pay anything. Even if washing machine is not working, I would call landlord and she/he would deal with it.

      However, I have a friend, who’s renting the whole apartment. And yes, he needed to pay for some heating problems to replace some parts.

      When I think about it now, him paying for it makes no sense.

    2. Interesting! Here in the US, most apartments I’ve seen are covered by the homeowner for most appliances and maintenance. That’s interesting to hear when you rent in the UK it’s that different. I’ve seen in Germany they get around it by just not providing appliances, then you need to bring your own when you move in.

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts

Here are a few recent posts you might enjoy checking out.

23 Shares
Tweet12
Share11
Pin