What to Expect When You’re Expecting and You Still Live in an Apartment


One day my kids will be too big to carry around in tote bags.

“What’s it like living in an apartment with a baby?” is a question I am often asked. Usually it’s from someone expecting her first baby and trying to decide where to live.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from all these years of apartment living, it’s that I don’t need a house to have a home.

And that’s the truth. There is something really special about having a story that begins, When we first started out, we lived in a small apartment…”

But that’s not all there is to it of course. When all our friends were buying houses, we chose to stay in an apartment, and here is how our experience has been so far.

We lived in a one bedroom apartment when we found out we were expecting Lane. After the shock wore off, one of my first thoughts was for the nursery. I wanted a room that was beautiful just like in the pictures I saw.

We had a small side room with a slouchy couch and a television set. We sold the couch (and later the television), and turned that little space into a baby room with a crib and a changing area. We turned a wet bar cabinet into an organized baby closet. With just a few changes our one-bedroom apartment had a nursery.

I wished I could paint, but I learned to live with apartment beige. (Apartment beige is like builder’s beige, but with 20 layers and extra overspray.)

We had no option but to live with less stuff than catalogs say you need. We chose “travel size” for a lot of things. We didn’t need a baby bathtub when we could give our kid a bath in the kitchen sink. Craigslist was our storage unit. Knowing we couldn’t keep baby gear long-term, I bought and sold stuff as we needed it, and sometimes I even sold things for more than I paid.

We didn’t buy many toys, but our baby didn’t mind playing with apples, pears, and sheets of paper, the occasional cardboard box, or stuff from my closet. We often reminded people, “We don’t have much space in our apartment,” and they helped us by considering that. Most toys came from grandparents, and some toys stayed at the grandparents’ house.

Our big challenge was storage: not baby storage, just regular stuff. We didn’t have a kitchen pantry, so our crackers and dry goods were in the bathroom under the towels. With everything stuffed into every possible storage space in whatever way it could fit, we often left it exposed for baby exploring. It was so easy for her to pull out everything that was accessible, and I spent a lot of time putting stuff back.

Having a patio outside space saved my sanity more than once. We frequently went places, visiting parks and coffee shops. Every weekend we were glad not to have to keep up with a lawn.

Baby #2 was coming, and I briefly thought about staying. Our rent was cheap, but our apartment was lacking. We decided to pay more, and we moved to an apartment that was bigger and better with a park close by. I’m glad we decided to pay the extra money because with two kids I stay home more, and it’s nicer. I think the lack of windows in our old apartment was making me depressed.

The kids share a room, and a while ago I shared a tour of how we made a place for both of them. It has its challenges (one kid is a light sleeper).

Sometimes I wish I could decorate any way I want. Sometimes I wish we didn’t have carpet. Wow, I’m just thinking of all the reasons why I wish we didn’t have carpet.

We use cloth diapers, but we have our own washer and dryer. I don’t think I would use cloth if I had to go to a laundromat, though I know more persistent people who have done it.

We invite small friends to play and it makes it really noisy for our downstairs neighbor.

I like being able to always know where my kids are. I like always being within earshot of them.

Sometimes we drive by our old apartment which is just five minutes away, and my four year old always says, “I don’t like our new home, Mommy, I like our old home better. I like my old room better. It’s little. Little kids need little rooms.” So there you have it.

I don’t know how long we’ll stay in an apartment, but it’s definitely helped make our lives better. It’s been good, and it’s been worth it.

Do you have any words to say to young couples who are just getting started with a new baby?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. I love that you aren’t afraid of this as an option, either. We live in a 2/1 with another on the way, and everyone thinks we’re crazy to have them share a room. I’d love more posts on living in small spaces! :)

    alison´s last post…june-teenth wedding

  2. We moved out of an apartment a few years ago, and my daughter still asks when we’re going back!

  3. I love this! My husband and I are trying for a baby and I’m not in the least scared to stay in an apartment. Currently we live in a small one bedroom (the bathroom and kitchen are huge, but the bedroom and living room are tiny after-thoughts with no doors in the back), but I still spend all my time rearranging it in my head and a baby fits just fine. Like Lane said, little kids need little rooms. They also need way fewer things than society tells us they do.

    P.S. Your kids are so adorable it’s ridiculous.

  4. We live in a 2 BR with a 1-year-old, and he has a lot of sleep problems, waking up a lot during the night. We get the downstairs neighbors banging on the ceiling if he cries for too long, making sleep training a nightmare. It also would be nice to have a backyard to spend time in after the little one is in bed. I have to admit I’m looking forward to buying a house, especially since we want a large family.

  5. Our first apartment was a 600 sq ft. one bedroom. It was cram packed with everything we owned. We had our first baby there. Actually I gave birth to him right there in a tiny hallway. He slept with me for the first couple of months for night nursings. Then we turned our living room into a nursery/living room. A crib, a rocking chair, a side table.

    Honestly I saw the looks on people’s faces when they came over. A little shocked, a little pitying. Like we didn’t have a roof over our heads or something. We’ve made a lot of “sacrifices” according to some in order to stay debt-free. But honestly we have more than most of the rest of the world.

    We are embarking on some RV living in the next year in order to start our own homestead debt-free. We get a lot of crazy looks, questions, etc, but it seems that it comes from a mindset of having a certain quality of life that is neither sustainable nor family-centered.

    Wow that turned out way longer than I had planned :)

    Shannon´s last post…Adrenal Fatigue- Causes and Cures

    • i love this! you should be proud to stand against our consumerist culture and show the world that you don’t need a bunch of extra stuff just to have a happy family. my parents lived in tiny apartments when i was a baby, and took my little brother and me camping every single weekend for the first few years of our lives, and we turned out just fine. if you’re happy where you’re at, that’s all that matters! and RV living… imagine the awesome stories your kids will have to tell when they get older about all the adventures that come with living an unconventional life! for most people, the weight of debt is something that weighs you down every day. if you can avoid that and you’re happy doing so, keep it up! i’m very inspired :)
      meg´s last post…changing my perspective

  6. We live in a house, but I find as the kids grow they just want to be where you are anyway.

    Unplanned Cooking´s last post…Do you work the second shift And egg fried rice

    • I agree. i bought a house thinking my daughter and her puppy would need more space but had to put her bed in my broom because she just wants to be wherever I’m at. luckily I bought my house cash as it was a fixer upper but currently looking at selling for a smaller 1200 sq ft home because out of 5b bedrooms we are using only one. people dont realize kids just want to be around their parents, being a single mom my kid is always on my heels :)

  7. We lived in our two bedroom townhouse until our second was 13 months old and oldest was 27 months old. It was tight, but cozy. We had the crib in our bedroom and our oldest had her own room. The hardest part for me was not being able to send the kids “out back” to play – we went for a walk every morning and spent time at the local parks. I learned to be content and grateful and wouldn’t trade it.

    Becky – Clean Mama´s last post…Crazy Domestic – Summer Declutter Workshop

  8. We have a 16 month old and live in a 2 bedroom apt. The nursery also serves as an office/book storage for my husband who is in grad school. We have a desk in our bedroom for my online homework and a desk in the living room for when my husband needs to study and the baby is asleep. Granted, our apartment isn’t always the cleanest or the most organized but it does work. I would love to have a bigger place and we hope to move next year but financially, staying put made sense when our daughter was born and this next school year. Hopefully we can move to a condo next year with a little more space but if not, we’ll figure out more ways to organize and consolidate. It does help though that our complex is pretty family oriented so we don’t get any complaints about crying babies.

  9. Well said! I was one of those people who, prior to having a baby, absolutely shuddered at the idea of living in an apartment when I had children. Of course, God had other plans… Now I live with my husband and our 18 mo. old son in a small 2 bedroom apartment. My husband works from home, and my son shares a room with the office. On the surface, it seems less than ideal (and truthfully, sometimes it is really difficult!) but there are long-term benefits that I never would have experienced had we not lived here. Because we save so much money by renting, we’re able to make ends meet on a very small salary. My husband is able to pursue his dream career in a way that also lets us spend lots of time together as a family.

    To all the young couples just starting out: remember, again and again, what is really valuable. Life experiences are so much more important than having a well-decorated nursery or a nicely appointed kitchen.

    Thanks for sharing this, Rachel!

  10. Rachel P. says:

    Wow, I couldn’t disagree with you more. Our family desperately needs our own green space and garden along with relief from the noisy neighbors and the worry of ruining someone’s property. Unfortunately, the recession has hit us hard and we can’t afford a house even if we rented.

    • Rachel,
      I “hear” you on the noise issue. I’ve lived in lots of apartments and I don’t think I could have done it with a baby just because of the exposure to random and uncontrollable noise. I live in a small house with my husband and 2 children and I love it but I wouldn’t trade our private outdoor space and dependable quiet for anything.
      I am sorry you are stuck where you aren’t happy : (

      juliet´s last post…Required post

    • I love plants too, and I’ve written a lot about how we’ve grown a garden in both of our last two apartments. The nice thing about apartment gardens is when you move you can take your plants with you.

      The noise is annoying sometimes. But then I visit houses where all the neighbors are making a lot of noise with lawnmowers and leaf blowers, so I guess noise can happen most places.

      I hope you find what’s just right for you.

  11. Having a house and yard is so much work and so expensive sometimes, I wish I was able to move my family of three into an apartment. Unfortunately with 2 big dogs and 2 old cats, that’s not really an option. I love my animals but they definitely limit us when it comes to this issue! p.s. it’s always so lovely to see other moms use cloth diapers. Yay!

  12. We lived in apartments until our daughter was 4. We had an apartment that was over the building’s laundry room so her running around and noisiness didn’t disturb the neighbours. To save space we didn’t have tons of baby equipment. We made do with the minimum. As she grew out of things (crib, swing, highchair, clothes etc.) we gave them away. She spent a lot of time playing in the living room because it was the biggest room in the apartment. I wished for a separate playroom. We had a park next door, although I really wished we had a yard so she could go out and play by herself. The reality is, by the time we had our son, we had a house with a fenced yard. He would never go out to play by himself! Also my living room was still filled with toys. He didn’t want to play by himself in his room. Kids want to be where you are, apartments are great for family togetherness :-)

    Carrie´s last post…Exciting Day For Me!

  13. This is so inspiring! I absolutely love your blog and feel as if we are kindred spirits. We live in a slightly larger apartment on a farm so there’s lots of outdoor space (It’s actually the same apartment I grew up in as well!). It’s two bedroom and I remember when we were expecting #2 and already had a son my one cousin said “what are you going to do if it’s a girl?!” In reference to the bedroom amounts. I honestly stared at her for like five minutes and don’t even remember what came out of my mouth, in my head i was being sarcastic as heck “I guess we’ll just crawl in a hole and die!” People think you need such large houses and a huge amount of debt to be happy, but frankly, our only need for larger space is on our bed (unfortunately a family bed). We made it very clear from day one, we HATE clutter. If it’s not vintage, sentimental or specifically asked for, don’t buy it for us or our children and our family and friends pretty much stick with that. Before every birthday and christmas I’ve been going through the toys and chucking or donating anything broken, unplayed with, annoying, etc. And honestly, they like my pots and pans and dishes the best out of all their “play things”. Bathtubs in the sink are not only practical, they also save your back from bending way down and make for great photo ops. We love giving our children humble beginnings and adore the ideas they come up with for new ways to play with their small areas and limited toys. Sorry for the length,I’ll just stop (i could talk for hours i’m sure) i was just so happy to see such a great post:)

    Christa Waltenbaugh´s last post…A blog inspired spur of the moment day

  14. When we had our first baby we lived in a room! We had moved back to my parents house to save money. It was great.

    Then we bought our first house but we decided to infest in a super small duplex so really our living space is that of an apartment. And we have three kids now ;)

    We like it. There are challenges for sure. No one has their own bedroom, definitely no fancy nursery, but it affords us a high quality lifestyle that is way more important to us than anything else. We think it’ll be a good story too :)

    hillary´s last post…hillaryboucher- Post done I might head to bed early and read a little bit mmmmmm

  15. Karen (in Scotland) says:

    I’m at the other end of the spectrum here – we have a five bedroomed house and four kids. And four bathrooms – one of which I use as a big cupboard.

    I am honestly grateful for the space, quiet and privacy I have but one of the major downsides of more floor space is – more floor space! I had to mop the downstairs floors today and it took FOREVER. I used to clean our last house (comparable size with an apartment) in about one hour flat – now, housework takes me hours.
    (Well, it would take that long if I actually did it. I tend to just tidy a lot at the moment. By which time, I’m too tired to actually clean.)

    And the kids spread mess throughout the whole house no matter how much I try to designate “rooms” or spaces for play. They follow me wherever I go. If I’m doing the ironing in the nursery (not quite big enough for a single bed), I swear all four of them will end up sitting on the floor, at the doorway, at my feet – chatting away and showing me stuff.

    I think my point is that a close family (especially when the kids are wee) can cope with smaller spaces because everyone wants to be together anyway (apart from the mum who is hiding in the downstairs loo trying to drink her coffee in peace…)

    Advice for new parents – buy as little as you can. Seriously, I’ve spent the last two years just trying to get rid of stuff that I never used, never needed and, in the case of gifts, never wanted.

    And ban teddy bears. Really, put it on the birth announcement cards. Maybe they breed under the bed but I just had a cull and filled four black sacks with them…
    :-)

    Sorry to be so lengthy.
    Karen (Scotland)

    • Karen,
      Totally agree with you! I remember our first little “cottage” with great fondness. Unfortunately, said cottage was torn down and enormous house erected by someone else (prime real estate) so we can’t even return to visit. Just lovely memories.
      Our basement in this house is storage. Period. So I agree with getting rid of stuff that we never should have had in the first place.
      Live and learn!
      Robbie (Minnesota, USA)

    • I hear you on the floor space! We have 623 square feet, and it’s so quick to clean! I love it.

      Dinah´s last post…1 reason Im glad to be home with Katherine-

      • What am I doing wrong!?! It takes me 2 1/2 hours to clean 356 square feet! Perhaps its the never ending shedding dog?

  16. We lived in a two bedroom apartment when I was pregnant with twins. We stayed there until they were almost a year old. The only reason we moved is that we were trying to save money and my mom was ill.(We moved in with my parents.) I was content there and laundry was down the hall, we had a great space. We lived in the “kid building” so noise was not an issue.

    Rana´s last post…I am THAT mom!

  17. I lived in an apartment all my life, although in Europe it is not such a big deal. My mixed sex twins are in one bedroom currently and we are considering a move. So I’ve asked my little ones whether they want their big kid, separate bedrooms. My daughter replied: “No, no way. He loves me. I love him. We want to stay together. Besides, I like to hear him sleeping.” What can I say, togetherness is a good thing.
    Eszter

  18. When pregnant with our first, the pressure was there to buy a house – we bought a townhouse and I’m so grateful we didn’t have to mow the lawn, fix a leaky roof, or paint the outside walls.

    We stayed in the 2 bedroom townhome for 5 (yes 5!) more babies and loved that our mortgage was small, we lived near a huge park with walking trails, and our neighbors knew and loved our children because kids in a townhome complex were few and far between.

    Then we moved into a 1000 sq ft 2 bedroom apartment for a temporary stay, which turned into 9 months. We made do because we decluttered so that we wouldn’t have to pay for a storage unit, and the decluttering move was the best idea yet.

    From there we moved to expensive CA where thank goodness we couldn’t afford to buy. We live in a modest rental home in a wonderful neighborhood (going on 8 kids now) and prices have dropped so significantly that when we feel the economy has bottomed, we’ll easily be able to afford a comfortable house to call our own… meanwhile, this IS our home :)

    • ah, good for you! The laws where we live (GA) require that if you are renting, you can only have two people per bedroom. Which I think is so ridiculous.

  19. I just have to tell you how much I love your blog. My husband and I live in a very small house in Canada. Everyone in his family keeps talking about when we get a bigger house, but we are very satisfied with our home. I love you attitude toward enjoying and making the most of what we have without worrying about “upgrading.” Thanks for inspiring us!

  20. We lived in a 330sq ft apartment until our two oldest were 2 and 6mos. We had to move because of a change in situation, otherwise we planned to stay there! We had a walk-in closet we planned on making a little bedroom when we needed it (at 2 and 6mos the little one was sleeping in a bassinet and the big one was sleeping with us). We also cloth diapered (the laundry was down the hall).
    We still miss that little apartment, though we now have three girls and one more on the way. We have a 1200sqft house now and it often feels like too much space (and the clutter has bred to fill it!) It used to take me 20 mins to clean the place tip to tail, and now it takes me a whole day! I also think we actually got outside more in the apartment, simply because we had to get OUT to get out. We walked at least twice a day when we lived there- now I just let them run in the backyard.
    There are definitely pros and cons to both, but in the end spending quality time with the ones you love most is the most important thing, not stuff or space.

    Kyrie´s last post…10 July

  21. My second child came home to a bassinet set up in the bathroom. He’s 10 and so far doesn’t need counseling for it.

    Just like the country song “love grows best in little houses”

  22. Your love and insight of living small is the reason why I am reading your blog regularly. This is yet another great post from you. :)
    I have lived in our 800 sq.ft. condo for 14 years now. Nine years longer than we wanted. But the Lord knew what’s best for us before we did. We own the condo in a nice town and the mortgage is less than the current rate of an one room apartment. It is a 3/2 and five people live here at all these years. Like you, I am thankful for no yard work and the closeness of my children. We go to a near by park if we need to “stretch”. We signed up our kids for sports so they can play on the grass. Three years ago, I started to live greener and love the idea of less is more. I have been de-cluttering the condo since then. I was quite surprised at how much our full size garage can hold!
    The pro of small space living to me is that I have more time with my family and floor cleaning is not such a back breaking chore. Having a tiny side yard means no yard work. Utility cost less and I became very creative in storing stuff.
    The con of it is that I don’t have a yard where I could do some gardening or even to just sit outside with a cup of coffee. I don’t entertain much because I’m always conscious about my small home (although this is changing as I am getting older and look at life differently). I need to clean up constantly to keep the place livable. My older children all have assigned “hot spots” and they are wonderful helpers. The best thing we get out of living in small space is probably that our children have learned to be good friends as they have no place to hide from each other! LOL!

    Jenny´s last post…Peter Boy

  23. We lived in a 2-bedroom condo when we had our first and second babies. Then, we moved to another state and lived in a 1000 sf 2-bedroom apartment for a year. We then bought a 3-bedroom townhouse and have been in it for just over 5 years now. We had our third baby almost five months ago, and you know what? There are still days I miss that apartment. The windows almost went floor to ceiling. It was bright, cheery, the bedrooms were spacious, and we could see wildlife out our windows. Sometimes we consider moving to a bigger house, but our kids insist that they want to stay. Our neighborhood has a pool, tons of kids have moved in, we’re 1/8 mile from the elementary school, 5 minutes from every kind of shopping you could want, and our neighbors are phenomenal. Now we’re in no hurry to move. If we had a bigger house, we’d just spread out more and add more stuff to clutter the empty spaces. Better to clutter our smaller place with love, in my humble opinion! :~)

  24. I think one piece of advice I would offer is to not sweat it as much on creating huge, elaborate spaces for the kids to play (whether it’s their own bedroom or a separate playroom), especially when they are young. I worked as a nanny for awhile for this family with three children ages 3 1/2 and under, and they were wealthy enough to have this huge playroom for their kids, complete with Pottery Barn shelving units, television, etc. But the kids rarely played in it or even with the toys there. They liked to be around me or their parents when they were there. It helped me to be okay with having smaller rooms in our current 2 BR apartment, because I realized that mostly, we sleep in those rooms. My boys are still small, of course, and I’m sure they will want more space later on, but for now, it seems more important to have space in areas where family life happens.

    Jenni @ Life from the Roof´s last post…How less can you dress

    • Lane does the same thing with me. She’ll follow me everywhere I go, and if I ask her to leave me alone for a minute and go play, she says “But I want to be with youuuuuuuuuuu!”

  25. So one question: how do you know when it’s good to move to a house? My husband and I have mixed feelings about houses. We don’t want to deprive any future kids from having space, being able to entertain, etc. but we hate lawncare, housework, and being responsible for repairs, etc.

    Also we feel like it would be hard on our neighbors if we have a crying baby. Our apartment building is nice, quiet, and generally well-insulated, but that might be pushing it.

    When do you know it’s time to make the move? Is it better to do it before your kids are a certain age, if you’re going to get a house?

    • I think the answer is different for everybody. As our family gets bigger we think about moving. We’d like to find a community where we our kids can stay in the same place as they grow up, but you never know when job changes or other life situations will change your plans.

  26. Thanks for sharing your story. I really love your approach to living more simply – something I strive for.

    One of my former co-workers lived (and may still live) in an apartment with her three(!) children and husband and really couldn’t have been happier!

    Nicole´s last post…chocolately goodness

  27. I grew up in a 550 square foot apartment. We moved there when I was 6 temporarily and my parents moved out when I was 40. I have a sister three years younger and a brother 12 years older who went off to university a month after we moved. And we had a dog. Storage was an problem – the dog food was in my parent’s closet, the toilet paper was in a kitchen cupboard, then the sideboard in the living room and finally in a chest of drawers my mum found at a thrift shop that fit in a corner outside the bathroom. Sometimes, she had tried keeping things in so many different places we couldn’t remember where it was. My husband and his three siblings grew up in a 4000 sq ft Queen Anne. We raised our kids in a 1200 sq ft bungalow. The size really doesn’t matter but it has to be your choice. If you are happy in your apartment your kids will be happy, too.

  28. I had to wash diapers at a laundromat for over a year, and it was pretty awful, especially when I was a single parent. I remember pulling the laundry basket, the diaper pail and the kid in a little red wagon for our trip to the laundry room. We lived in the apartment at the other end from the laundry room. That part wasn’t bad–it was the waiting around for the diapers to wash and dry, which seemed to take hours. In one apartment complex, there was a park right outside the laundry facility so that worked. I don’t remember what I did at the place where there wasn’t a park.

  29. Jessica Brammer says:

    I really appreciate your tips on living simply and am trying to do better in that area myself.

    Currently we are living in a large house that is provided for us by my husbands work. Since we have three kids it is nice to have the space, but it allows for a lot more junk to be brought into our living space. Sometimes I miss the apartment we lived in with our first child and the cozy smallness that it brought.

  30. i get your emails to my inbox, but don’t comment much. but i had to today.
    we owned a duplex previously. we lived downstairs and rented the upstairs. the downstairs was about 950 sq ft.

    we moved (job transfer) and moved in w/ my parents til the house sold. that was tough.
    just bought a house (moving in this weekend). the house is… get this… less than 800 sq ft. we have 2 kids. a 3 yr old and 18 month old. yikes. talk about small homes. love all your ideas. i’ll keep you posted on how we make it work for us.

    julia´s last post…Why my job is so important

  31. As someone who is contemplating replacing our old carpet with hardwood or new carpet (and who doesn’t have children yet but will soon), I’m VERY curious to hear more about this: “Wow, I’m just thinking of all the reasons why I wish we didn’t have carpet.”

    Jenn (From the Mixed-Up Files)´s last post…A Peek at the Creative Space of Sydney Salter

    • dirt, spills, babies learning to feed themselves, throw up, and potty training

      I think I would choose a mix of carpet in the bedrooms and hardwood in the living and dining areas. Or maybe hardwood throughout with some rugs, if I could have anything I wanted.

  32. My husband and I have been married (no kids yet) for 10 years. We lived in a house for about 15 months. When we moved to Chicago, we went back to renting. Living in the house was the most stressful time for us. We would like to own again but we’ll be going for a condo, not a house. The decorating flexibility of owning (and building assets) but less upkeep than a house. Thanks to (cheap) renting, we just became debt free and now have the flexiblity to move to a slightly bigger place whenever we’re ready.

  33. I’m Rachel’s mom. Other people in our people in our family sometimes ask me when are Rachel and Doug going to buy a house. I always tell them TIME is the advantage of an apartment over a house and yard. When Doug comes home from work he doesn’t have to think about making repairs or yard work on the weekends. He can concentrate 100% on his beautiful kids and wife. Doug is an awesome Daddy and an awesome husband.

    With just my husband and me at home now, I am getting tired of taking care of three bathrooms and a garden and yard. After 21 years in my house there are repairs I don’t want to do and don’t want to pay for. One day, I was sitting with Lane by the pool at their apartment. The yard men were working close by, the pool man was doing his job and the gym was right behind me. I thought this was a good deal. No yard work and when something breaks you just make a phone call, and when you get tired of it or it needs some repairs, you can just move. I think a small apartment would take a less time to clean and more time to spend with your children. Time is a precious gift.

    Sarah´s last post…The New Me

  34. We lived in several big houses throughout my childhood. But the happiest I remember being was the year we lived in an apartment while we were transitioning from one house to the next. I remember that as the time we were really a family. Less stuff to weigh us down. The physical closeness brought us closer as a whole.

  35. we live in a small home that we love but have considered moving to an apartment for some of the reasons you’ve mentioned. i think simple is the way to go, and when you live in small spaces you start to realize you really don’t need much at all. good for you and i think it’s wonderful that you are sharing your story to help remind us all that a home can truly be anywhere. it’s what you make of it for sure.

  36. I completely agree with you!! I live in an apartment and wouldn’t have it any other way. Luckily for us, apartments here don’t come with carpeting and we can do a lot of decorating and customizing to adapt it to our growing needs. Again, since we don’t accumulate a lot of stuff, apartment living is more in keeping with our simple life:-0

    Prerna´s last post…How to Eat Healthy and Save Money with Yogurt Making at Home

  37. Dominique from Cape Town, South Africa :) says:

    What a great post. So many of the people I speak to toss around casual assumptions that you MUST have a house once you have a child. We actually did the reverse and used to rent a huge 4 bedroom house with a pool and garden big enough to play miniature golf in, but the security totally negated all the positives and so we deliberately chose to look for an apartment when our daughter was 1 because apartments are more secure and you have neighbours who can be alert for any unusual activity and I felt much safer when I was alone with her in our complex than in the house.
    I share Rachel’s frustrations around carpets and things not being exactly like I would like in a rental, but for the most part we’ve been our apartment very happily for 3 years and are now expecting our 2nd baby in October. The provisional plan is for the girl’s to share a room for now, but as they get bigger the room won’t be able to accommodate 2 beds and wardrobes, so we’ve started looking around for a house.
    i think that too often, people confuse “wants” with “needs”. All your kids “need” is your love and attention and care. As long as you keep them clothed, fed, loved and stimulated, the rest is details. They really don’t care how big their surroundings are or how many toys and things they have. Our daughter has proven the Mastercard ads (where the parents buy the baby gifts costings thousands and the kid ends up playing with the box the toys came in instead) true so often. As long as you can maintain your perspective and stay true to your values, the details don’t matter.

  38. Another great blog Rachel!!!
    I lived in apartments until I was in my teens – great fun, always friends to play with, lots of parks close by meant we got out and about visiting them instead of being in front of TV… when I lived in Bangkok I got a townhouse because everyone said it was the thing to do, 12 months later I moved into a bedsit apartment and it was fantastic! So much better!
    I now live in a small house, although would prefer an apartment if there were apartments close to where I work (unfortunately there are only houses in this area)…

    angelvalerie´s last post…the mid-year check up…

  39. Knowing that the grass isn’t always greener is so important! We’re expecting our first child in January, we’re so excited, but already experiencing the expectations of others that we will move out of our (smallish) rented house, and find somewhere bigger… after all renting is dead money! Renting isn’t dead money if you’ve got money to save for a deposit, and we’re so blessed here, we really don’t want to move just yet – if the roads are icy in January, the lady over the road is a midwife, our next door neighbour is a nurse, and they’ve promised they’ll lend us their toboggan to get me to a car on the main road if we need to! The countryside is 100 yds from our doorstep, and town is 5 mins away, if the tap leaks, or the shower breaks, the landlord pays for it to be fixed. We’re blessed in so many ways!

  40. Rhiannon says:

    This was another excellent post Rachel.

    When my husband and I were expecting our little guy, we lived in a small 1 bedroom apt in the DC metro area. Very Expensive! We decided to stay in it as long as we could to save money.

    I had people ask me all the time about “the nursery” and how we were going to decorate it, etc. When I told them the baby was going to stay with us in our room they couldn’t hide their shock! “Where would he sleep?” In a porta-crib. “where would you put the rocker?” In the living room (right on the other side of the wall!). “What about storing all the baby gear?” Don’t get a lot of stuff and then put it under the bassinet part of the crib.

    When I told my birth class instructor about the reactions I was getting and how it made me feel like I was basically letting him sleep in a box she said, “So what if you were? All they need and want are clean pants, loving arms and warm milk”

    It was the best thing she could have said to a stressed out, very preggie mama! I try to wheedle that comment in all my conversations with new mamas, even if I don’t think she “needs” it. Because you never know who’s struggling with expectations and demands from others.

    Now we have a bigger 2 bd apt. and my husband and I think if we needed to, we could stay here for 3 more kids!

    I think apartments are great for small new families. Sure you have to deal with apartment grade everything but we can throw all our extra money towards saving for a house, paying down debt,and hobbies we otherwise couldn’t afford because of unexpected house repairs. Sometimes I secretly dread the responsibilities of owning a home!

  41. I would advice for any new expecting couple, that babies do not need as much as stuff as baby registry would make us think, they need very little, and they are happy just being held, touched, sang to and cuddled.

    I spent way too much for my first one to realize, he did not wanted stuff, he wanted simply me. As they get older thing may change!

  42. Thanks for this post! Hubby and I aren’t planning on having children for another few years, but have been discussing our 5 year plan and how long we think we can stay in our 2 bedroom, 1100sf rowhome. I know some commenters may scoff because that is plenty of square footage, but the huge crunch comes from the utter lack of closet/storage space! This post and the comments have really inspired me into looking around our office/piano room in the 2nd bedroom and realizing how we could add nursery as its third function. Now I definitely think we will stay in this house that I love as we grow to a family of 3. Family of 4 down the line…. we’ll need more space for that for sure.

  43. I had to smile reading your post. I’m from Germany and most people here (including us) live in apartments. None of my friends (0-3 kids) have a house and everybody is OK with it.
    We are renting a 900 sq ft 2 bedroom apartment and if we’ll have another child he/she will share the bedroom with our daughter.
    I guess the more room you have, the more stuff you’ll hoard.
    Of course storage is always an issue (there are no built-in-closets in Germany and usually no pantrys either) but you just have to make up your mind about what you need and want and then stick with it.
    And I made sure that our family and friends knew that we would not keep unneeded/unwanted gifts. So they make sure they’ll get us something that we asked for.

  44. And I love that picture of your kids in the tote bag, so cute!

    Michelle Traudt´s last post…Clearing Out with Craigslist

  45. Our story starts, “We lived in a 2 bedroom apartment near the beach when our first 2 children arrived….”
    We have since moved on from that home/area but I have SUCH fond memories of our little piece of sunshine living. It was quaint, easy and carefree. I wouldn’t change a single minute.

  46. I love this post. I love when we can show that we all probably need a lot less than we have. I wish we lived in a smaller space sometimes. Before I got remarried, my daughter and I lived first in an apartment, then we moved to a 2 bedroom house. With all four of us now, we live in a 2000 sq. ft. house. It’s more space than we need. I like smaller, simpler spaces. Who knows, we may be moving to a simpler home in the near future.

  47. Great post! We brought our firstborn home to a tiny 1-bedroom, 500 sq. foot high-rise apartment–he didn’t seem to notice. ;) A couple months later we moved into a 2-bedroom townhouse with 900 sq. feet. It was super small with little storage room, but we loved it and were very happy there. Several years later, we live in an apartment again (we are in an Asian mega-city–everyone lives in apartments) and are very happy with it. I love the sense of community, the ability to walk everywhere we need to go, and the fact that apartment living forces us keep possessions to a minimum. And I love the extra time–we have lived in 2 lovely houses since we married, and although we enjoyed them, the upkeep on the houses and landscaping was a lot. Our sons enjoy apartment life too–we were recently in the US for a few months and stayed in a nice, fairly large home. Our older son said, “I miss our apartment–when we’re there we spend more time together as a family.” It’s true…there is nowhere to go hide from each other in our apartment!

    Really, we have learned that contentment is not about having what you want…it’s about wanting what you have.

    Oh, and my advice to new parents? Say no to the mandate to acquire, acquire, acquire. Your new baby requires so very little to be happy.

    Morgan´s last post…Strike a pose- theres nothing to it

  48. So great! Our first home with kids was quite small. And with 3 kids and 2 stay at home parents (my husband works from home) it got quite crowded at times.

    But I wouldn’t change it for the world. We learned how to buy less and keep less. We learned how to simplify. We learned to organize. And we learned to live together. VERY together.

    We’ve recently moved to a bigger home and the beautiful thing is we haven’t filled it. We’ve lived here a year and we still have empty closets and cabinets. Living small has moved with us and we’ve reserved the extra space in our home for friends and parties – not for stuff.

    Kat @ Inspired To Action´s last post…Why Every Mom Needs A Bouncer Or How To Know When To Say No

  49. Thanks for the article! We live in an 875 sq. ft apartment and are expecting baby #1 in a few weeks. We’ve been told by friends that for sanity we need every single piece of baby gear which is disheartening when you are trying to live a simple life, but also when you literally have no space for big baby gear. We love our apartment, love the area we live in and generally live simply. We are determined to make this work. Thanks again!

    katherine´s last post…Four years ago

  50. Emily C says:

    I suppose it’s all perspective, isn’t it? We’re in a 2BR with our third baby on the way, and we plan on staying here until baby number four, or until we finish our PhD and move, whichever happens first.

    I moved out of an apartment complex where families with three young kids were living in 550 sq ft. And happy! It’s easy to be happy with less stuff. My friends envy that I have less to clean, less to organize, less laundry to overwhelm (my kids only have a few days’ each worth of outfits).

  51. Christina says:

    Thank you so much for this! I’ve been needing this reminder after spending to much time with people who think they “need” a 3000sq. ft. house in order to have kids. I have a 3 bedroom house and have been led into feeling that it is to small for two kids to grow up in! And my husband and I have sworn that the next house we live in must have a SMALL yard because we WASTE so much time on leaves and lawns and other stuff. I’m so glad for the reminder to be content with what I have. I just needed some encouragment to tune out people with values different than my own.

  52. We lived in a one bedroom apt when our first child arrived. We then moved across the state line and into a 2 bedroom for the same price but was walking distance to a grocery store and some other things plus the complex had a pool, gym, and children park area. We welcomed our second child there. We had some noise issues in the beginning but reporting and working with the manager, we soon had the quiestest building in the complex. I moved back home when my husband was deployed and then moved into a bigger apt of 1000 sq ft- 2 bed and down a bath to one bath. We had an extra large deck and the ground out front was grass for us to play on and acted like our own backyard since the kids could be trusted to play outside while I cleaned with the windows opened. We had a pool for those really hot days surrounded by more grass that we enjoyed. We had the best neighbors for most of our 3 years there- it wasn’t until the end that we finally got an extra noisy one above us but we were already looking for a house. We moved into our house [2ooo sqft which takes a lot longer to clean] when our children were nearly 5yo and 6.5yo and even though it was 4 bedrooms they didn’t want separate rooms. I am transitioning from our plot at the community garden to our own backyard garden- I miss the community but love having yard and gardening work and got to finally have my own chickens. We welcomed our third child and it was amazing how much people wanted to give us but we did happily with so little with our first two that we simply say no and do with very little again although after two boys, it is fun to decorate a nursery/little girl room. I do like my big space especially the kitchen and dining room with space enough to sit 8 chairs around a table and our neighbors but I do miss having less even though I purposely try to have less in a bigger space. Maybe I can convince my husband to have us move to a 1200-1400 sqft with a bigger lot for gardening and play.

  53. Rebecca says:

    When my daughter was 3 and my son was born, we lived in a 700sf 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment. It was nice in that rent was cheap, the apartments were well cared for, and we never worried about upkeep. But, I couldn’t just let my kids run and play outside because we were right by a busy road. My son slept with us for the first 6 months. Now we live in a 2 bedroom, 1 bath 1140sf house which works a bit better for us due to no carpet, a (small) dining room, and a fenced-in yard. The kids share a room. What we do is put our boy (who is now 3) down to bed first. My daughter (now 6) helps wash dishes and then we read and she goes down an hour later. If my son is not asleep by the time she’s due for bed, she’ll sleep in our room and we’ll switch her once he’s asleep. For families in 1 bedroom apartments, I like the idea of the parents sleeping on a comfortable fold-out couch in the living room and using those cube-like ottomans for storing necessities. I feel like small spaces give me more room for creativity.

  54. Rebecca says:

    Ahh, another thing is that now that we’re in a house, we have expensive repairs: the roof needs fixing and will cost $2000, the house needs a french drain, another $2000. The yard is big and needs to be mowed which takes a good hour or so. Moving is a much bigger deal if you have to sell your home. I would rather live in a downtown apartment, but our city, like many, is very expensive in the main area, and so it’s less expensive for us to be about 5 to 10 minutes out of the center, but it means we can’t walk (for some reason, our city planners didn’t believe in sidewalks or bike lanes).

  55. Christine says:

    We have lived in apartments since having children and just moved into our first town home, which is still a rental (and was, despite it’s 3rd bedroom, a downsize in both square feet and price since we got to move across town). I like apartment life in many ways. Some day I would like to own our own home. We have in the past. But with the market the way it currently is and our finances how they currently our plus a few other things, we have decided we’re not going to buy until we’re ready to stay in one place for a minimum of five years. We have friends who are want to sell their house they bought 5 years ago and they would need to bring a check to closing to pay the realtors, to give you an idea of our market currently.

    So we’re commited renters for the moment. We try to live simply and have really come to enjoy it. But the comments we get are always surprising. Even among christians it seems that the american dream is the most important ideal. If we have kids, we should be “settling down” and “buying a house.” We get asked about it all the time. But we’re still trying to figure out where God wants us and we know in our hearts that we wont be where we are longterm, so we’re waiting and praying and recently moved to a place with a little yard and a short commute so we can downsize our cars and our time in them.

  56. Thank you thank you thank you for writing this! I wish I could send it to all my relatives that think our small house is “too small” for my husband and I and our 2 children. We are both graduate students, and our finances are tights. But, quite frankly, I’m not sure we would move even if we had more money. We love our little house, with great neighbors, close to public transportation, and within biking distance to the university.

  57. I love this blog! My husband and I live with 2 kids (daughter and son) in a 2-bdr townhouse, which we are planning to stay in until my daughter is 8 or 9. Then we’ll find a 3-bdr (either townhouse or apartment condo). Owning a single-family home in our area (near Vancouver BC, Canada) would mean me working fulltime, and that’s not in the plan until our kids are much older. Besides, I personally don’t feel the need for much space. Hospitality can be an issue if we have a large family over and we haven’t figured that one out yet (any ideas?). But otherwise, I love having my kids close by! And I love downsizing and decluttering. I feel most comfortable when I know the contents of my closets and storage areas well (because I use the items regularly). I’ll be checking back to this blog for more good ideas and inspiration….thanks!

  58. robbiekay says:

    My husband and I were older when we got married and we have talked about how we wish we could have had those “we lived in a small apartment” days that people who marry young often talk about. :)

  59. Fabulous post! I just recently stumbled across your blog. We lived in a large studio flat when we found out we were expecting. It had a great layout with large closets, kitchen and a nice yard. We thought we would have to move immediately, but laziness, the love of our neighborhood and a bit of frugality kept us there for all of my pregnancy and the first year of my daughters life. It worked out just fine, lovely even. We carved out a little nursery area for her, she had a tiny crib, a changing area/storage and shelves for books, basket for toys. I know others felt bad for us, pity even, but honest? We were totally happy.

    When she was one we moved to a larger flat across the street. I do enjoy having more space and am very happy to have a lot more light, but I remember the old place with very fond memories. The new place has hardwood floors but lacks laundry. I too cloth diaper (use a service for washing the prefolds). I miss that little apartment across the street every laundry day. ;)

  60. I think the advice that I would give the young moms is: copy this gal’s attitude!! She has chosen to be content, and that’s a beautiful thing. Many people have a lot more and are a lot less centered about it.

    Jena (Organizing Mommy)´s last post…Rebound!!

  61. This is great. One thing I always tell the expecting parents in my classes is that all their new baby needs is them. If they don’t have a swing and a playgym and a playpen and etc, etc, etc, they will be just fine.

    One of my favorite book series is on the “Not So Big Houses”. We need and use a lot less space than we think. And, it costs so much to take care of it, to heat it and cool it. My boys share a room (4 and 7) and I hope that it will help them be closer, like my sister and I were(less than 18 mo apart). Kids need relationships more than they need space.

    • And, one thing as far as gifts…I would suggest asking for gift cards and experiential things if space is an issue. They are more meaningful often, anyway and you can build memories that way. A local science museum or waterpark or class is a wonderful skill builder and fun! Best of all, you don’t have to put it away when you are done playing with it.

    • “Kids need relationships more than they need space.” Absolutely love this.

  62. My husband and I started out in a 600 sq. ft. one bedroom (with no extra room at all :)) apartment, and lived there until our first was almost 2. He slept in a pack-n-play in the ENORMOUS closet! We moved to a two-bedroom apartment that was just under 1000 sq. ft. when we realized had lots more company than we could handle with just one bedroom, so our son’s bedroom was often the guest room. We bought our first house, which was 4 bedroom and about 1800 sq. ft. when we were going to have three young adults live with us. A few years later we relocated, and downsized to a 2 bedroom home with less than 1000 sq. ft. We have three children now, and they all share a bedroom. This works out great, because they don’t like sleeping alone anyway! Sometimes, when we have company and all the kids are in our room, I do wish we had just one more bedroom. But even as they grow, I really can’t imagine why we’d need more space. It’s really just for more stuff we don’t need! We’ve never been happier. Our whole family loves our “little” house that we’ve lived in for 2 1/2 years now. The key is just what Rachel talked about above… not holding on to things you don’t have room for. I buy/sell items often without losing a penny on them. We have a small storage shed in the back for clothes, outdoor equipment and camping gear, as we have no storage inside the house (our closets are super tiny). Also, we have to adjust our way of thinking… the American “bigger and more is better” way of thinking. Just a few generations ago, things were so different (and they still are throughout the world). We LOVE having more time together… it takes hardly any time to clean the house, and we spend lots of time outdoors. I wish more people would try it and see how happy life is this way instead of spending their life wishing they had more, and being left empty in the end.

  63. I just came across this post and I am so refreshed! We live in an apartment in NYC. We have an almost-one year old, and we will likely be living here when we have more kids. I didn’t want all of the baby gear and “essentials” and I made a very small registry when I was expecting. Even with the toys Elaine has, she prefers the pots & pans, silverware, and cardboard boxes more. We have fun, and we make do. By the way we also use cloth diapers. They save us a lot of money!

  64. A note from the other side of the Atlantic: there are plenty of places where apartment is the norm, even for the entire time kids live at home. We have two-bedroom apartment (or is it a condo? It’s own, not rented) which means there are all advantages of your own home without any upkeeping or yard work. We are expecting our second child now and do not plan to move for at least a couple of years.

    We have 10 minutes to the capital’s centre by bus that leaves next door. We have a balcony with a sea view, plenty of green fields next to our house, ice skating ring and kid’s play area across the street, beaches, little forest, and wintertime crosscountry skiing track starts literally from our door. There is a mix of row houses and apartment houses, and those row houses just across street cost 2-4 million euros. Not so in an apartment house with all the benefits of the region :)

    No, kids do not need much. Our 1,5 year old still sleeps in our room in his own bed. We never had a nursery and did not need one (the idea is not so common in Europe). We bathe and change diapers in the bathroom (we have enough room for bathtub), baby clothes fit the walk-in closet, and toys are stored in a couple of boxes in the play area next to living room.

    Kids don’t need stuff, adults are only trained to think so. And your note on your kid’s opinion on the size was both charming and very accurate :)

  65. We lived for about 3 years in a converted caboose (as in, the last car on a train) and by the end we had 3 kids (one was a newborn). We lived on a farm, so we were always outside – but on those cold winter days, when no one was really going outside, it was nice to be so close together and close to the fireplace.

  66. We live in a 2 bed/1.5 bath apartment with 3 adults and a 5yr old. It is a tight squeeze but we love it. I love knowing where my son is and hearing what he is up to all the time. Our office/school room/living room/dining and kitchen are all one big room, which is so convenient when I am cooking dinner. I can still supervise school work or my son on the computer as I cook. We have learned to find ways to adapt furniture to fit our needs, we turned an old dresser with doors into a smaller TV unit for our new wide screen tv. It doubles as hideaway storage for my sons vhs’s and dvds.
    monique´s last post…Frugal vs cheap

  67. I just found your blog via “simple mom” and i really enjoy your perspective on things. We live in a a 1 bedroom in Manhattan with 3 kids (4 yrs, 18 mos, & newborn), so I found so many of these comments interesting. Everything in life is about perspective and attitude. A person only needs what they think they need. Life is as good as you think it is no matter what size space or how much money you have (as long as basic needs are met). I have friends who have left the city seeking a better life to only regret it later. Which makes me wonder if they will be happy anywhere. There are pros and cons to every living situation, it’s our choice to dwell on the positive or the negative of what we have.

  68. Today a good friend told me she’s pregnant. When she left, I started crying. We live in a 2-bedroom 600ft rental apartment, I work from home, and our rent is ultra-low (we couldn’t find anything cheaper if we tried, and it’s actually a fantastic, full of light, 4 year old apartment in a great location) but our income is so low that after bills we have less than 400 dollars/month to eat, clothe, go out and save, so moving somewhere else is not an option.
    Since I work from home, I need an office, and the living room and our bedroom are so tiny a desk would never fit in there. I cried because we didn’t have the possibility of having kids like my friend has. I cried because in this economy we’ll never be able to get a mortgage and -even less possible- we’ll never be able to save enough to buy. A 1000 ft apartment in a regular town here costs 2 years of my husband’s salary. 6 years of mine.

    But then I read this post. I don’t even know how I got here. But I’m so grateful I did. Because it got me thinking about what matters most. Right now we don’t want kids. We’re doing our best to get some extra income and save. We are madly in love with our apartment because besides not having closets or any kind of outdoor space, it’s perfect. Why should we worry? If someday we want to have children, we’ll find the space. Babies are tiny after all, right?

    Thank you for this post, it really helped me a lot right when I needed it most. And now I’m back to being happy for my friend.

  69. My husband and I lived in a 400 sq ft apartment when our son was born (yes, there in the bathroom). We lived there for 5 1/2 months with him, too. He slept in a co-sleeper on my side of the bed. We kept the baby stuff to a minimum out of necessity, and I’m glad. For the most part, I actually like apartment living. We are in a bigger, 2-bedroom place now, but I don’t see home ownership in our future for awhile.

    Most of our friends are buying houses, though, and there is that unspoken pressure to buy one because it’s just what you’re “supposed to do” at this stage of life. But we’re holding out!

  70. michelle johnson says:

    I lived in an apartment sense my child was 2 or 3 years of age now 2011 married and have had three kids and getting ready to move in to a house. Like your post

  71. My friend just forwarded me this article because she thought of me while reading it. We are expecting our first, and live in a one-bedroom apartment. This means the baby shares a room with the dining room table and also the room that has the only closet, so my clothes. Dining/baby/Closet room (also right next to kitchen, so kind of kitchen as well) is turning out just fine. I love our little neighborhood, and we don’t currently make enough to afford a house or a bigger apartment, so we’re making it work. To read this was inspiring! I knew we could do it! Now, if only I could get our relatives to cut it on the toys/unnecessary items, like you did. Yipes. Only so much “slides under the table”… I expect a lot of craigslisting in my future!

  72. I hate to admit that the main reason I want a house is the social stigma. Here in Portland, only poor families typically live in apartments. You seem to be expected to buy a house if you have kids, even in this economy. I hope that I can have your confidence and just do what works for us. We have a 14 month old in an apartment and just switched from a town home style to a flat and we just love it. I agree, I love having my kid in earshot – usually within my sight actually – and I love how easy and non-overwhelming it is to decorate as well.
    Janine @ Alternative Housewife´s last post…SmartyPants natural gummy vitamins + Omega3 DHA and Vitamin D