Note: This is a guest post from Julia Ubbenga of Rich in What Matters.
Lately I’ve been happily fielding a not-so-surprising question: “Why are you raising your family in a 1,000-square-foot apartment?”
Well, actually, the question usually sounds more like, “Aren’t you looking for a house?”
While we certainly could be house hunting if we wanted, the truth is, we don’t have the desire. We did the live-in-a-house thing for three years before moving to our current apartment. And we aren’t in a hurry to get back to that lifestyle.
Yes, we realize it’s a bit countercultural. In the US, 80% of the population prefer to live in a single family home, while only 70% actually do. Meanwhile, apartment and condo living is preferred by only 8% of the population, yet 17% of Americans do live in an apartment or condo.
In European countries, however, apartment living is more common. In Spain, for example, 65% of the population live in apartments.
Clearly, choosing an apartment over a home is not the “American norm.” So why do we love being in that 8%? What’s the draw to apartment living? I think many people don’t even stop to consider the benefits.
Here are 7 reasons why we love apartment living and you will too:
Apartment living is a simpler way of living, which translates to a happier, lower-stress life. A simpler lifestyle provides the space to figure out what matters most and the freedom to focus on these things.
Some people may love fixing up their home, and that’s great. But if that’s not how you feel called to spend your gift of time, then apartment living will free you from those obligations that come with owning a house.
Instead of spending your weekends on home maintenance projects or mowing a yard, you can take your kids to the park and the pool. You can relax more and even nap more (yes!) without thinking about things that need done around the house.
This is not lazy living, just the opposite. It’s intentional living that focuses on what you believe matters.
2. Less stuff
A smaller space simply can’t fit a lot of material things in it. It’s minimalist by design. This reality forces you to edit your life constantly by making decisions about what stays in your home.
If you let clutter pile up, you quickly lose living space. In a smaller space, you’re not tempted to buy more furniture or other “toys” because you just don’t have a spot for them. When new things do come into your home, other things have to leave. You quickly learn the feel of “enough” in your home and become motivated to maintain this balance.
Connections thrive in smaller spaces. These connections could be within your family, your faith, or even to yourself. With less home to care for, family time, prayer, and self-care can become a daily theme, not a side note.
An apartment’s smaller space allows families to be more present for one another. This leads to more connection and more shared experiences.
You will talk more, play more, and do more together because you’re closer together in proximity (although apartments are still big enough to allow breathing room when needed).
Apartment complexes come with a built-in community. Many have weekly activities or a clubhouse where people often meet. This can be beneficial, especially for stay-at-home-moms (or those of us who work from home).
A face-to-face, adult conversation is always easy to find, which can be a very welcome thing during a day spent taking care of kiddos and a home.
Feelings of social isolation are hard to come by in apartment complexes. Befriending elderly neighbors can be especially rewarding. The memories they share are almost always about family and experiences—not stuff. Hearing stories from their lives will remind you to slow down and keep a big-picture perspective on life.
5. Financial flexibility
Apartment living helps shape your spending around the lifestyle you feel most called to. If your family values relationships, traveling, health, and generosity, but your finances are going toward home projects and repairs, then you won’t be able to focus as much on those values.
Consider if the trade-offs make sense. Instead of saving up for a new roof, you could travel to see family out of state multiple times a year. Instead of redoing your flooring, you could have frequent nights out with your loved one. Instead of repairing your basement’s foundation, you could invest in your health by eating organic, real foods. Instead of renovating your kitchen, you could donate to a cause you’re passionate about.
Happiness is found in being true to yourself and your values—not someone else’s. Studies also show time and time again that more possessions don’t ultimately make us happier. Although many people may pursue the “American Dream” (a bigger home, more stuff), they don’t report being any happier for it.
Raising your family in an apartment also instills this in your children. As your children observe your family’s lifestyle, they will realize that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing or live the way everyone else is living to be happy.
7. A tidy home
Any living space requires upkeep. Apartments, by design, are easy to keep tidy. Less space means less to clean in less time. When cleaning doesn’t seem overwhelming, you’ll be more motivated to do it. And the peace that comes from a clean, uncluttered living space will motivate you to maintain this feel in your home.
Home maintenance systems are also easy to implement. Consider laundry, for example. When your washer and dryer are only steps away, you’re much more likely to stay on top of laundry than if you had to descend two sets of stairs to wash your clothes. Being in close proximity to your daily chores increases the chance you will do them.
We realize that apartment living isn’t for everyone. But for us, a minimalist lifestyle in a 1,000-square-foot apartment leads to more joy, more fulfillment, and more family togetherness.
Our home has never been tidier and our family is thriving in this simple, manageable environment.
If you’re looking for a way to simplify your life and focus on what matters most, why not give apartment living a try?
It’s not the American norm, but it could just be the right lifestyle for you.
Julia Ubbenga is a freelance journalist whose teachings on minimalism, simplicity, and intentional living have reached thousands of people worldwide through her blog, Rich in What Matters. Julia practices what she preaches in her Kansas City apartment home with her husband and two extremely lively young daughters. You can also find her on Instagram.