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Ah, the age-old question: house or apartment? As life takes us on adventurous twists and turns, every so often you might find yourself pondering whether downsizing from a house to an apartment is the right move for you, or you and your family.
Not only have I pondered if it could be the right move for me and my family, my wife and I eventually decided to pull the trigger, downsizing from a quaint, 3-bedroom country house with plenty of land, to a 2-bedroom apartment near the sea. By reliving the ups and downs of my own personal experience, I hope to provide a realistic outlook for anyone on the fence about downsizing from a house to an apartment.
Take It All Into Consideration
Whether you’re solo, a family or a retired couple, looking to downsize or moving on up, what to consider when moving looks pretty much the same. It’s the ideal time to take stock of your current lifestyle and your future vision.
Here are the five primary points of consideration:
- Space Requirements
- Maintenance and Upkeep
- Location and Neighborhood
- Future Life Plans
What Made Us Do It?
For us and our two young daughters, downsizing from house to apartment was not just about changing our address; it was all about embracing a new, lower-maintenance lifestyle.
Now, in the effort of full transparency, we aren’t what you might consider ‘mainstream’. We homeschool our girls, and years ago, we ditched our car for two electric bikes. Our kids have only been in a car a handful of times, including the actual move from house to apartment, which included a harrowing 8-hour car ride.
But our reasons for the move will be entirely relatable no matter where you fall on the spectrum. Our overarching vision for our family was, “live with less to live with more,” and moving to an apartment became an integral part of reaching that goal.
Less Expenses = More Financial Freedom
In our case, we were already enjoying the benefits of renting, like more flexibility, lower insurance costs, and no property taxes, but we were still not enjoying many of the benefits of apartment living, mainly reducing our expenses and saving money. Our future vision actually does include becoming a homeowner, but when we crunched the numbers, we weren’t on a straightforward path to get there!
We were pleasantly surprised by how much moving from a house to an apartment has simplified our budget. Not only are we paying less in rent and utilities, but being within walking distance to shops and necessities has dropped our already low transportation costs, meaning we’re able to redirect funds to family vacations, extracurricular activities for the girls, and investing in our future forever home.
Less Space = More Intimacy
Like many families, as our family grew, the space we occupied and the amount of stuff we accumulated grew, too. Throughout our relationship, we had always been on a mission of paring down and living with less, and we felt at odds with where we were, and where we wanted to be.
A lot of you will be in the same position, staring at little-used rooms and asking yourselves, “Do we really need all this space?” After assuming that we’ll be ‘tripping over each other,’ we’ve found that less space actually equals more intimacy and togetherness.
It turns out that we’re pretty good at sharing space, even if we’re all in our own world, and our tight quarters have encouraged us to engage in more play with our kids, something my wife and I struggle with. In fact, our girls even enjoy sharing a bedroom. Well, mostly enjoy, but we’ll take it!
Less Stuff = More Meaning
Downsizing provides a fantastic opportunity to evaluate possessions, bidding farewell to things that no longer serve you, and making room for what does. It might require you to lay a new framework. For us, we saw it as an invitation to curate a living space that’s efficient and perfectly tailored to us and our family. We didn’t part ways with cherished belongings, just the stuff that was, well, just stuff!
My wife also took the move as an opportunity to assess the actual value of our possessions, choosing to ditch her large set of cheap pots and pans, and instead invest in a smaller collection of heirloom kitchenware that will stand the test of time. (She also got a little obsessed with the Buy It For Life movement, but that’s another story!)
Less Maintenance = More Leisure
Craving a lifestyle that’s more manageable and doesn’t involve endless hours of cleaning and yard work? I sure was! While I love being outdoors, we had quite a bit of land that simply required hours of maintenance every week. It had its perks – so much room for activities! – but it was a big time sink.
Apartments often come with lower maintenance demands, and with less to clean, maintain and manage, we have more time for hiking, biking, binging the latest Netflix show, and exploring our seaside neighborhood. Leisure feels like it’s a more integral part of our life now, and has done wonders for my stress levels.
Less Isolation = More Community
Location, location, location – it’s not just a real estate mantra. When downsizing to an apartment, you have the opportunity to gain access to an exciting array of amenities right at your doorstep.
Our house was a solitary island, but we’re now within walking distance to the beach, our local library and plenty of shops. We’ve also gained access to an on-site community pool and fitness center, and better yet, we’ve become part of a vibrant, multi-generational community, engaging in neighborly chats and sharing impromptu playdates.
Downsizing is Not All Sunshine and Rainbows
The truth is, downsizing isn’t all positives. Making the move requires plenty of planning and preparation (and a little extra prep for moving with kids and pet parents!). And, apartment living after a house requires creativity, space-saving organizational skills, and sometimes, ruthless decision-making.
As we adjust to apartment living, there are elements of our house that we miss – the sprawling backyard where our daughters would play, the spacious kitchen that hosted plenty of friends, and our prolific lemon tree. But our decision to embrace apartment living is rooted in choosing to live with intention, and valuing moments over materialism.
So, should you downsize from a house to an apartment? It’s not just a question of space; it’s a lifestyle shift that promises more freedom, more time, and more opportunities for joy. As you weigh in and assess what’s best for you and yours, in the end, our journey to live with less has paved the way to more joy, connection, and fulfillment as a family.