Author Topic: Family of four - Should we move from apartment to Single family home?  (Read 1568 times)

firelight

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1061
We currently rent a two bed apartment which is nice and lovely and totally suits our needs (except I'd love yard space and an attached garage along with it). However, growing up, my husband and I grew up in single family homes of good size and had our own rooms and separate play rooms, etc. We are expecting our second kid and are seriously thinking if we should move to a single family home (maybe rent first and buy later). Here are some pros and cons:

* We are not partial to the area where we live but just don't want too much commuting or traffic around. So we are not restricted to one small area or school district.
* I don't want a bunch of extra space that'll either be underutilized or fill the space with stuff we don't need.
* I agree we might need more space as kids grow but I'm perfectly happy with our current setup since we cosleep and use the other bedroom for play, guest room and other uses. I want to keep a small living space as much as possible so it's easy to clean and maintain. But I also feel kids would love to have a bigger place so they have fond memories like we do about our childhood homes.
* We are out of home almost all the time during the week and spend weekends at home. My husband and I work and kid goes to full time daycare. So I don't know how much more we'll use the space. Even the house we have, we spend most time in the living room/kitchen and barely use the bedrooms except sleep/nap during the weekends. We just love being together than each doing their own thing.
* I do get a bit jealous when I see lovely home pictures in Pinterest or when friends share on Facebook. But I also feel its a lot of work to maintain it (my mom was always cleaning or tidying my childhood home which is huge + she had help). And then I counter by saying I'm not my mom and can keep everything tidy and not buy crap.
* I'm also wondering if we are expected to move to a 'proper' home as we see friends and family do so (even single friends seem to be buying homes with 3-4 bedrooms). So I'm not sure how much is social pressure vs us really needing the home.
* We don't plan to be in the area for more than a few years, so we'll be renting (so no buying unless things change drastically) - the max difference in rent would be $500-1000 per month based on how fancy we want the single family home to be. We can certainly work it in without too much lost savings.
* We get 'free' amenities like pool, hot tub, gym, someone to hold packages and take care of all maintenance, more security (since it's less probable to break in to an apartment out of 200 others vs a single home), etc. If we were to move to a single home, we'll have to do them ourselves or ask the landlord to do. Even though we don't use the amenities all the time, it's convenient to have them available for use readily.
* My husband is handy but hates doing things himself. He'll do chores and help with stuff if he thinks it's needed but his bar for something being needed is very high. I don't want to get into the position of having to nag him to take care of things. That said, another part of me thinks I need to give him that chance - if he doesn't do it after moving to a single home, that's one thing. But he might surprise me and start doing things himself (since he has more ownership there than with an apartment) which would be awesome!!
* I sometimes feel we don't entertain as much since we have a smaller space (toddlers love to run around) and that has dampened our social lives as more and more friends start having kids. But I'm not sure if it's because of the kids' ages (easier to stay home with toddlers and babies than visit) and parents just being busy or if it truly is a space issue.
* As kids grow more active, even letting them just be in the backyard while we relax is easier than getting everyone ready and out the door to the park a block away. And I can get cooking or chores done while they get some nature time (instead of being cooped in watching TV or wanting to be engaged).
* Worried we might have lifestyle inflation that comes with moving to a single home (more furniture, help with yard work, more tools, more housecleaning, etc) that might result in more expensive cars, etc. We've been pretty good at holding off of too much lifestyle creep but we do have good stuff and cars already. I don't know how much we'll increase everything else to match others.

Ideally I'd love the same interior space but have a good sized yard and attached garage along with the 'free' amenities I posted above. Our current home has open concept and it's hard to find similar sized single family homes that have an open concept since most homes where I live (bay area) are either old and small and don't have open concept or new and large and have open concept but are a bit farther away.

What would you do in this scenario? Would you move and try to see if the single home occupancy (yard space, better hosting, can fill the craving to have a proper home) is worth the effort (maintaining it, decorating it, rent, other issues) or continue renting apartment? Has anyone moved to a bigger house and loved it despite not needing the space? Or am I deluding myself we don't need space but we actually do?
« Last Edit: March 05, 2017, 06:58:49 AM by firelight »

Cranky

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1832
Re: Family of four - Should we move from apartment to Single family home?
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2017, 11:10:12 AM »
I think that your children will not be toddlers, and will not sleep with you forever. So, it sounds like you don't need to move to be more comfortable right this minuter, but I will bet that in a couple of years you'll be ready to spread out a bit.

joonifloofeefloo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5128
  • On a forum break :)
Re: Family of four - Should we move from apartment to Single family home?
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2017, 11:52:22 AM »
I would:

1. Stay put.
2. Start a very slow, casual look-around, for fun, inspiration, information, satisfying the itch, pondering...and the possibility of finding the place that finally makes a move a clear, personal yes.

It sounds like you and I have a similar lifestyle and similar perspectives and values. My kid and I have lived in apartments, houses, tiny house on land, city, rural, etc. All of these have worked well. Currently we're shifting toward your current set-up.

In your post, I just don't hear a lot of compelling arguments -from a deep, internal space nor from a financial one- for the single family detached dwelling. I hear a LOT of plusses for your current space.

In my experience, a larger home doesn't = more entertaining. Navigating toddler-care in ANY space feels tricky when also entertaining.

Alps

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 22
Re: Family of four - Should we move from apartment to Single family home?
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2017, 01:01:02 PM »
You absolutely should not move in my opinion. The biggie is that you don't even want to stay in the area for more than a few years - and for that you want to do the hard work of moving (with two small kids) to a different nearby place? That then needs to be furnished? With stuff that then needs to be moved out of the area? Umm, no.

But there are a bunch of other things as well that jumped out at me:

Quote
I agree we might need more space as kids grow but I'm perfectly happy with our current setup since we cosleep and use the other bedroom for play, guest room and other uses. I want to keep a small living space as much as possible so it's easy to clean and maintain. But I also feel kids would love to have a bigger place so they have fond memories like we do about our childhood homes.

Wait, what? You do know that kids' memories depend on whether their childhood was happy, not on the house size, right? You both have happy memories of your childhood, so of course your childhood homes play a prominent part in that - but not just any big house, your EXACT houses, just because they were yours! I promise you that similarly happy memories can be generated by an apartment :)

Quote
Even the house we have, we spend most time in the living room/kitchen and barely use the bedrooms except sleep/nap during the weekends. We just love being together than each doing their own thing.

So, why do you need more rooms again? Your kids will want to co-sleep for a few more years (and if not they can/likely want to sleep together in the kids room) and by then you want to move away anyways.

Quote
* I do get a bit jealous when I see lovely home pictures in Pinterest or when friends share on Facebook. 

Nope, sorry, doesn't count as a reason!

Quote
* My husband is handy but hates doing things himself. He'll do chores and help with stuff if he thinks it's needed but his bar for something being needed is very high. I don't want to get into the position of having to nag him to take care of things. That said, another part of me thinks I need to give him that chance - if he doesn't do it after moving to a single home, that's one thing. But he might surprise me and start doing things himself (since he has more ownership there than with an apartment) which would be awesome!!

I don't even understand this. Give him a chance to do what? Do stuff he doesn't enjoy? I get that you want him to be more hands-on but it really doesn't sound like he is at all interested in doing it himself, so you give him a chance to... conform to your wishes?? Plus why would he feel more interested in it when its a rented house as opposed to a rented apartment?

Quote
* I sometimes feel we don't entertain as much since we have a smaller space (toddlers love to run around) and that has dampened our social lives as more and more friends start having kids. But I'm not sure if it's because of the kids' ages (easier to stay home with toddlers and babies than visit) and parents just being busy or if it truly is a space issue.

Yeah in my experience it's more about the age/busyness, but YMMV.

Quote
* As kids grow more active, even letting them just be in the backyard while we relax is easier than getting everyone ready and out the door to the park a block away. And I can get cooking or chores done while they get some nature time (instead of being cooped in watching TV or wanting to be engaged).

I think it will take 4 years (at the very least) until you will be comfortable having your not-yet-born kid outside without supervision, even with a fenced-in garden (they can and do climb fences from much younger..). At which point you want to move anyways!

Full disclosure: we moved to a larger place earlier than we wanted, when the kids were two and four. The new apartment happened to open up in the best house in our area, and literally checked all the boxes of how I/we wanted to live. So we took the opportunity! But we also plan to stay there until the kids leave.

Before that we were living in a 2-bedroom place and like you we didn't even really need the second bedroom except for storage. It was an apartment complex with an associated playground, but it wasn't fenced it and you had to go around the building to get at it. So I also thought a fenced-in garden would be much more convenient - but now I might wait until the younger one is 5 until they are allowed to be by themselves in the garden (I just don't trust them to not explore the neighboorhood on their own!).
Oh and regarding the kids happy memories: for months the kids always wanted to move back to the old place (to our adult eyes much less desireable), although everybody assured us that kids this young forget about it in a few days... even now they still sigh about the "pretty kitchen" in the old place! And about those more rooms, well, they still refuse to sleep without adults present, and after that phase I expect they will want to room together until 8+10 or so. At which time, again, you guys will have moved to another area anyways!

TL;DR: Don't move!

Alps

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 22
Re: Family of four - Should we move from apartment to Single family home?
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2017, 01:10:18 PM »
Oh, and one more thing:

Quote
* We don't plan to be in the area for more than a few years, so we'll be renting (so no buying unless things change drastically) - the max difference in rent would be $500-1000 per month based on how fancy we want the single family home to be. We can certainly work it in without too much lost savings.

Well, then why don't you "work it in" so that you save those $500-1000 right now in addition to your normal savings? Then in, say, 5 years that you still live in your current place you've saved $1000-2000 per month = $60'000 - 120'000 more than you would if you moved, not even counting any interest! And I'm very sure your lives will not be worse, if anything better (since you will have less chores to do). Just stay off pinterest!

sparkytheop

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 853
Re: Family of four - Should we move from apartment to Single family home?
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2017, 06:01:07 PM »
I agree with everyone else-- since you are planning to move in the next few years anyway, put off moving into/buying a house for now.  What kind of housing is available in the new area you'll move to?

In my small town you are somewhat limited, but we still have duplexes with nice big yards and sometimes a garage or shed.  There are townhouses with decent backyards.  When I first got married, we rented a little house with a huge, fenced yard and 1 1/2 bedrooms (the 1/2 was kind of a sunroom we turned into a nursery).  There was an open kitchen/living room/dining room.  The laundry room was just big enough for the washer/dryer/water heater.  It was about 500 sq ft, rent (late 90s) was $400/month. 

Take your time and look around for small houses to rent.  If you don't want to have to work on things yourself, or pay someone to do it, you probably won't care too much for home ownership.  This is coming from someone who hates the idea of renting (I rented small house for 1 year and then bought one) and has never lived in anything other than a SFH. 

Not sure how old your older child is, but your children are young enough to wait a few years and still have lots of time to build fond memories in a new place, no need to rush that now if you don't truly desire to be in a house yet.

Learner

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 92
  • Location: Kingston, Ontario
Re: Family of four - Should we move from apartment to Single family home?
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2017, 03:30:53 AM »
Our family of 5 (kids are 5, 5, 2) moved from a 1500 sqft house to a 750 sqft 3-bdrm apartment.  It's been great - I would spend a lot of time on chores / renos.  That has become valuable family time.  We are using one bedroom with a bunk bed and roll-under bed for all 3 kids.  The other bedroom that could be for the kids is their playroom.

We manage space in the playroom by having three "sets" of toys.  If they want a different set, they need to clean up the whole playroom.  The apartment backs onto a playground, so we can watch them on the playground from the living room window.

nessness

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 415
Re: Family of four - Should we move from apartment to Single family home?
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2017, 04:52:31 AM »
I think your first sentence answers your question - you say the apartment totally suits your needs. So stay there until it no longer suits your needs, and then start thinking about moving. No need to start spending the extra money now.

Linea_Norway

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5896
  • Location: Norway
Re: Family of four - Should we move from apartment to Single family home?
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2017, 05:46:33 AM »
When I was young, my parent had a girl renting a room in our house. That meant I co-slept with my younger brother until I was 4 years old. That did not cause any drama whatsoever. So a bedroom for each young child is no argument. Things will get different when they become teenagers and more self conscience about their body.

In one of his posts, MMM has written that everybody wants to live in a single house with a garden and therefore pays a fortune for such, including long commutes. For much cheaper you can rent a luxurious apartment in the inner city. As long as your apartment suits your needs, stay there. Owning a house is a lot of work. Even renting it. There is just always a lot to do in or around a house.

I suppose you have access to a parc area somewhere around close to house? You can take the children there for running around.