Most Australians of a certain age probably associate the word ‘apartment’ with an American accent. Think: quirky neighbour Kramer bursting into Jerry’s New York ‘apartment’, or Jack Lemmon’s lonely character in the 1960 hit ‘Apartment’ letting his work buddies host their sordid affairs at his place on the Upper West Side. But apartments are no longer just about New York. With populations growing, incomes being squeezed and housing affordability at all time lows, the pros cons of apartment living are now being weighed up all over Australia.
Pros Cons of Apartment Living
Even so, apartment life was never really a part of the great Australian dream of home ownership, featuring a sprinkler on the front lawn and a barbeque out the back. But the big question now is whether the benefits are outweighed by the following disadvantages of living in an apartment:
Con #1: The squeeze
Living in an apartment generally means settling for less space, smaller rooms and a balcony or view rather than a proper garden or veggie patch – although for many this is a ‘pro’ because it all just means an apartment is much easier to look after.
Con #2: The noise & the nose
And unlike a house on a nice big block of land, apartment living could be noisier and (depending on your neighbours) nosier. ‘Apartment’ comes from the French word ‘appartement‘, which basically means a smaller space within a larger one, but the positive side of being more squeezed together means it’s easier to make friends and organise parties.
Con # 3: The rules & costs
It’s not just space and privacy that you give up with apartment living – you also lose some autonomy. Decisions about how life should be within your building are often also up to a collective ‘body corporate’, which means less freedom to do exactly what you like including renovations. Strata fees can also add up over a year, but you do get plenty of value for that money (read on).
However, for many people considering that ‘apartment or house’ conundrum, the plethora of pros of strata living can most certainly outweigh the cons. In fact, units and apartments now make up almost half of all Australian dwellings, and depending on your lifestyle and aspirations, it could be a perfect choice for you.
Pro #1: The convenience
Buying or living in a house is not necessarily the ‘Australian dream’ any more, with many people actually preferring the convenience of a self-contained unit rather than a full-scale house that needs lawns mowed, gutters cleaned and electricians called. Indeed, apartment maintenance is almost always covered and paid for by the body corporate or landlord, and precious time burned doing housework is always kept to a minimum when living that apartment lifestyle.
Pro #2: The location
Certainly for many people including singles and couples, living in an apartment near work and the city action – even in the CBD itself – is preferable to long commutes either in traffic or on public transport. But even families are now choosing family apartment living simply because they’d prefer to be in better suburbs in the city or near the surf rather than buried in the ‘burbs.’
Pro #3: The savings
One of the reasons some people prefer apartments is because of Australian housing affordability, with the average house mortgage now cracking a mega half million bucks. Whether renting or buying, apartment living is generally a lot cheaper in terms of rent and utility bills, and it can be a great stepping-stone investment to a bigger place later down the road.
Pro #4: The side-benefits
You may be getting your little space within that bigger building, but you’re actually getting a lot more than that. For instance, apartment residents may have shared rooms, a pool or gym, barbeques, security systems, communal gardens and secure parking. So unlike a standalone house, getting a true sense of community and also feeling like you’re doing your bit for sustainability and the environment is easier in an apartment building.
Summing up Pros Cons of Apartment Living
So whether you love those pros or you’re grappling with some of the cons, one thing is beyond doubt: Australian apartment living is very much here to stay.