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    How to Make Apartment Life Work for Your Military Family

    A single-family home is the dream, right? A spacious home, with a big, beautiful yard, gated with a white-picket fence.

    Well, that used to be the American dream, but things have started to shift a bit. While there’s no denying that living in a traditional house is desired by many, more and more people realize that they can check their must-have boxes with an apartment. 

    Gone are the days of viewing apartments as stepping stones for college students and young married couples starting on their own. Now, apartments are often luxurious, offering incredible amenities and plenty of perks causing many military families to choose apartment living over a single-family home. 

    Related: Common Mistakes that First-Time Home Buyers Make  

    Can’t quite wrap your head around the idea? That’s okay! Today, we'll talk about the perks, help you find what you’re looking for, and share tips for making apartment life work as a family.  

    Shot of a modern apartment

    How to Make Apartment Life Work for Your Military Family

    Why Choose an Apartment Over a Single-Family Home?

    What makes a military member forgo the option to stretch out in a home and opt for apartment living? 

    Two reasons: 

    1. Flexibility. PCS orders are most often two to four years, right? But that’s not always the case. There are schools, training exercises, and other commitments that warrant short-term orders, say six months. When you’re working on a timeline like that, it’s often easier to put most of your stuff in storage and settle into an apartment. With some of the bills already included in rent, you can eliminate the headache of setting up utilities (and calling to cancel them). 

    Related: Everything Renters and Landlords Should Know About the SCRA and the Military Clause 

    1. High Cost of Living. In places where the cost of living is high and you hemorrhage money for square footage, a smaller living space like an apartment might help you save money or, at the very least, stay within budget. 

    Perks of Apartment Living

    It turns out, there are a lot of advantages to living in an apartment, some that may even surprise you!

    there are a lot of advantages to living in an apartment, including amenities like fitness centers and more.

    Amenities. We often associated apartment amenities with gyms, pools, playgrounds, and maybe a nature trail. But did you know that some apartment complexes take it a step further and offer on-site spas? Others are moving toward upscale features such as hardwood floors, granite countertops, electric car charging stations, and babysitting services. The point is, apartment living is changing the game, and while there used to be a cap on quality and type of amenities, that's no longer the case.

    Saving money. How much you spend on an apartment is determined by which kind you get (which amenities you’re paying for). But in many places, you can live under BAH and save money by choosing to live in an apartment. Great news if you’re trying to save more for retirement or pay off debt. 

    Fewer responsibilities. With a smaller living space, little to no yard, and a 24/7 maintenance line to call if something goes wrong, your to-do list is short. You can spend more time playing, venturing around town, or simply sitting on your sofa when you’re not working. 

    Your to-do list may be much shorter in an apartment!

    Community. A community can be hard to come by. Living out in town instead of on base relaxes your tie to the military community, and living in a traditional neighborhood can make it more challenging to meet new people and make friends. Apartment life, as its very core, is very close. That doesn’t mean that you’re going to be best friends with everyone you meet, but with shared amenities and close proximity, there will be many opportunities to establish a new community. 

    Gated. One thing most of us love about living on base is that it’s gated and safe. We often lose that when we choose to live off base, but apartment complexes are a common exception. 

    How to Find What You’re Looking For

    Follow the same process as you would if you were house hunting for a single-family home—by establishing your priorities. 

    • Pick a location. How close do you want to be to base, school, church, medical, etc.? 
    • Separate your wants from your needs. How many bedrooms/bathrooms do you need? What layout works best for your family? What kinds of finishes do you want to see? 
    • Choose your must-have amenities. Do you want access to a pool, a fitness center, tennis courts, a spa, garage, etc.? 

    Related: Househunting Tips for Military Home Buyers and Renters 

    Tips for Making it Work

    Living in a small space with family, especially if you’re coming from a traditional-style home, can be a challenge. That’s not to say it isn’t fantastic! Once adapted, apartment living (yes, even with kids) might just be the best thing for you and your family. 

    Apartment living with kids might be the best thing for your military family.

    Here are a few tips to keep in mind when moving into an apartment:

    1. Downsize. If you’re coming from a larger living space, you might consider losing some stuff. Apartments aren’t known for the ample storage space, so if it’s something you don’t use daily, it might be time to say goodbye or send it to storage. 

    2. Get smaller furniture. If you’re trying to save money, then buying a new set of furniture may not be the best move. So, consider getting a couple of pieces like a love seat or a dining room table that take up less space. Fill in the extra seating with multi-purpose items like stools, benches, and poufs. 

    Pro tip: purchase furniture with exposed legs to make it feel more open and airy!

    Make use of your walls for apartment decor and storage.

    3. Use your walls. Square footage is limited, so make use of your walls! Hang shelves, mount your lighting so eliminate nightstands, add built-ins.

    Related: Personalize Your On-Base Housing or Rental With These Easy Ideas 

    4. Maximize storage space. If storage space is limited, get creative. Buy over-the-door organizers to use on closet doors and bathroom/kitchen cabinets. Use storage tubs but stack them in a closet or slide them under the bed (it’s okay to shove things under there if it’s organized!). 

    5. Keep the toys in the kids' rooms. Have a bin in the main living area for a few toys for the kids but make the toy’s primary home in their rooms. This not only helps eliminate clutter, but it also increases your children’s sense of independent space. 

    6. Meet your neighbors. Apartment living is perhaps most criticized for being noisy. We’ve all heard horror stories! Arm yourself by getting to know your neighbors -- this does two things: 

    • It helps you casually address excessive noise in the future. 
    • Softens them when you’re the loud one (we’ve all been there). 

    If nothing else, I hope you find your perspective shifted today. Understanding that apartment living is not only possible, but also beneficial to you and your military family, expands your rental options and opens the door to new ways of living. 

    Ready to find your next rental? Head to our home page and start your search there!

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    Make Apartment Life Work for Your Military Family

     

    Danielle Keech

    Author

    Danielle Keech

    Danielle is just like you — another down-to-earth military spouse learning every day how to navigate the craziness. As a mama of two, she knows what it takes to juggle solo parenting, a work-from-home career, and the demands of military life. She’s a firm believer that community is a key part of thriving and hopes to remind readers that they’re not alone through her writing. Want to connect? Find Danielle on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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