Apartment life: the good
- Facilities. Apartments often have shared facilities, such as a gym, outdoor barbeque area or pool. Not all apartment complexes have these facilities, and apartment owners pay for these facilities in their strata fees, but they can really improve the livability of an apartment.
- Low maintenance living. Apartments are much easier to maintain than houses. You don’t have to mow lawns, worry about gardens, clear leaves from gutters or sweep driveways. Inside the apartment, the building management handles much of the maintenance, so you have less to worry about there too.
- It’s cheaper (usually). Most apartments cost substantially less than houses, especially when you’re comparing between places with the same number of bedrooms. For home buyers unable to afford a million dollar mortgage, apartments are much more affordable.
- Convenience. Apartment living is convenient. Most apartments are located closer to services and amenities like shopping centres and train stations. You can live closer to work without paying enormous prices for a house. You’ll spend less time on home maintenance and gardening, giving you more time to relax.
- Security (hopefully). This obviously varies by apartment complex and neighbourhood, but many apartments have security systems across the building. And living in close proximity to your neighbours makes you less vulnerable than living in a more secluded, private dwelling.
Life in apartments: the bad
- Smaller spaces. There’s no getting around it, apartment living means sacrificing space. Rooms will be smaller, and the lack of private outdoor space means all you have is the floor space and the balcony. Depending on your lifestyle, this might not be a problem, but if you have four kids and a sheep dog, it probably will be.
- Noise from neighbours (and nosy neighbours). Apartments are also noisier and less private than houses. You’re essentially living in a brick and concrete shelf with other people stacked beside you, above you and below you. This means more noise and less privacy. Noise and privacy issues depend heavily on who your neighbours are and the quality of the apartment construction.
- The body corporate. The collective owners of all the apartments in a complex form the body corporate. This body makes decisions about how shared spaces in the building are used. At best, it’s a shared decision-making system. At worst, it’s a group of people you hardly know deciding what you can and can’t do with your own space. Also, if you’re merely renting an apartment, you don’t even have a say in what the body corporate decides.
- Stairs. Do you like walking up flights of stairs? This is the reality for a lot of apartment owners. And while some buildings have elevators, there always comes a day when the elevators break down.
- Strata costs. Owning an apartment means paying quarterly strata fees which can cost in excess of $1,000 per quarter. That really adds up.