Gransnet forums

House and home

Downsizing to an Apartment

(31 Posts)
Bakingmad0203 Mon 23-Aug-21 14:34:13

We are downsizing, and plan to move into an apartment. The apartments we have viewed have been very small with only 2 bedrooms, and an open plan kitchen, dining, living room area and a large balcony. No garage but an under croft parking space. I was wondering how Gransnetters with partners have coped with the limited space and what suggestions you have for managing storage and noise and the constant presence of a partner.

tanith Mon 23-Aug-21 15:22:50

I’ve thought about it many times but the thought of not being able to just walk out into my garden stops me every time.

Georgesgran Mon 23-Aug-21 15:32:09

Same here tanith. Not a gardener, but thankfully I can pay someone to do it for me.

OP without knowing the back story you don’t seem to be looking forward to this move? Perhaps circumstances/ill health are the reason, but you certainly sound uncertain about things? ‘Dealing with the constant presence of a partner’ would also suggest reluctance?

Must you downside to an apartment rather than a small house - even if that was only to offer a paved yard, but still somewhere to escape?

RomRoot Mon 23-Aug-21 15:32:33

We are downsizing, or planning to.
I don't think I could live in an apartment, there's something to be said to be able to sit in your garden.

Peasblossom Mon 23-Aug-21 15:45:02

A decent sized balcony can be as useful and pleasant as a garden.

in recent years I’ve downsized to a small house by myself, moved again to a smaller one with a partner, put in an offer on an apartment which we would have moved to if it hadn’t fallen through and now ended up in a four bedroom. So I think I have some experience!

Before you even put the house on the market, see how much you can throw away. If either of you find it difficult to pare down then think again.

I had no trouble in fitting into my first little house. I got rid of almost everything and just bought what was necessary. No problem. I don’t feel any need for past stuff.

But it became apparent that my erstwhile partner couldn’t dispose of anything of his. In the two bedroom house we shared the second bedroom was solely his and packed to the gunnels. The living space was cramped with furniture he wanted to keep even though it was way too big. And he had to rent a storage unit for the stuff we couldn’t pack into the house. Hence the upsize to four bedrooms ?

But enough about me. It makes get not be a problem for you, but I do advise testing it out!

Peasblossom Mon 23-Aug-21 15:46:24

It might not be a problem for you.

Honestly, autocorrect!!!!

Oopsadaisy1 Mon 23-Aug-21 15:53:16

Rent a flat for a holiday and see how you get on, remember on cold wet and rainy days you will be stuck, probably in one room unless you go into the bedroom.
I’ve lived in 2 flats and wouldn’t voluntarily do so again (and they were large flats with separate kitchens.)
We rented an ‘apartment’ in Suffolk for a week and I really missed being able to open a door and sit outside in the fresh air, there was a small balcony but it was permanently in the shade and it was cold and damp.
Have you looked at an older property that has been turned into apartments? You might get a garden, Or Mansion Flats? They would at least have separate rooms and usually plenty of cupboard space.

AGAA4 Mon 23-Aug-21 16:42:31

I moved to an apartment. I do miss the garden but only when the weather is good.
I live alone so the space is fine for me but I would find it a bit suffocating with someone else and I do have a separate living room and kitchen.
If you want an apartment try to find one with a garden. There are couples here but all have a garden.

Bakingmad0203 Mon 23-Aug-21 17:32:18

Thank you for your replies. Our intention is to spend the winter months in a warmer country, so we thought an apartment would be more secure if left empty. DH is reluctant to have a ground floor apartment for that reason, though a garden for me would be ideal.

PippaZ Mon 23-Aug-21 18:01:51

I live in a retirement flat, Bakingmad0203. I know we have one couple who spend time (pre-Covid and they have just gone back) in a house they have on the continent.

They did have a cottage in a village nearby. They found that when they were back in England th,ey spent all their time on maintenance. They live upstairs, which wouldn't suit me, as I like my patio but they do have access to an attic for storage. It certainly seems to work for them.

Casdon Mon 23-Aug-21 18:15:45

My daughter and partner live in an apartment, they love it in many ways. However in the really hot weather they really struggled with sleeping at night due to the heat gain in the building during the day. I’d suggest if you do go for it, you choose an apartment that isn’t South or West facing for that reason.

Georgesgran Mon 23-Aug-21 19:18:29

Hijacking the thread here but DD1 had a ground floor apartment (due to her disability) which already had French doors giving access to a small garden, a footpath, then a park. One Summer evening, she was relaxing in the bath when she opened her eyes to see a huge German Shepherd beside the bath watching her - closely followed by its owner with the lead! Taught her to keep the doors closed.

Franbern Tue 24-Aug-21 09:39:13

I moved into a flat two years ago. Had lived in houses since 1964. Okay just me. Firstly, I did look at ground floor garden flats, but felt that for feelings of total security would prefer to go to a first floor one. Found one, with a large patio/balcony, where I can sit in good weather, etc. No problem re gardening, as it has room for several pots and I mix faux and real flowers in these, so it is very colourful.

Very large Living/dining Room, and separate kitchen, two bedrooms, two bathrooms. Obviously, block has a lift, although being on first floor, I try to use the stairs if I am not carrying anything heavy.

I can only say how much I absolutely love living all on the one level and having the security of being on the first floor. Can pop out without having to keep closing windows. No internal stairs to be a problem. My spare bedroom gives me the opportunity to have overnight guests (and extra space for my non-current season clothes).

Being on the one level makes it so very easy to keep clean and I use all of the space. Does not matter if I forget to bring something out of my bedroom, I can pop back in there with ease. Large cupboard in the wide hallway, so ALL cleaning items live there and none under the kitchen sink or any either bathroom. Grandchildren visiting me often go into the spare bedroom to chat amongst themselves, leaving the adults in the Living Room.

I have a garage on the ground floor, which takes my car and my mobility scooter. When I come home from weekly supermarket shop, my bags go into a wheeled trolley in that garage and that is easily wheeled up (via lift) to my flat. Much easier than carrying bags from car to kitchen as I did in the house.

Although all the flats where I live are owner-occupied and all independently living, we are friendly lot. Ready to help each other as necessary and if you need a chat to someone any day, can sit in the large, pleasant entrance lobby and be sure to be able to meet up with people.

Indeed, I think houses are for when you have children. For adults only, I really cannot think of anything better than a flat.

Peasblossom Tue 24-Aug-21 10:21:00

I’ve read some of your other posts Franbern and often think how lovely your flat sounds. Ideal really.

I think I’m still hankering after the one we wanted that fell through ?

GrandmaKT Tue 24-Aug-21 10:50:02

There was an article in this week's Sunday Times saying that developers can now add extra floors onto apartment blocks without needing planning permission. It featured several disgruntled flat dwellers who had either paid a premium to live on the penthouse floor and now wouldn't be, or were concerned about the disruption (some would have to move out while building work was taking place).
It made me think that you have little security living in a flat....

Sago Tue 24-Aug-21 11:04:44

We have recently purchased an apartment as a second home/ holiday let.
It’s 2 bed 2 bath duplex with a communal garden.
I love it, it’s light,spacious and really stylish.
Every time we go I feel so uplifted.
If we were to spend the winter in warmer climes then I would be prepared to sell our home and live in the apartment.

Teacheranne Tue 24-Aug-21 11:24:54

My future plan is to move to an apartment when I have spent my current savings! I could sell my bungalow and for less than half the price get a two bed apartment close by - thus leaving me with another pot of money to spend! This was a conscious decision when moving here rather than put surplus money from sale of family house into investment accounts which are not performing well.

I keep an eye on the market even though it will be five or six years before I move. I’ve seen some lovely apartments with two big double bedrooms, both with huge storage cupboards/rooms, one of which is designed to be made into an en-suite. I’m happy to be on the ground floor as I live in a bungalow now so am not worried about security and I fancy having a patio door to the outside with a small private patio. Or if on first floor, I’d want a decent sized balcony.

But I am slightly concerned about noise from neighbours so would want to rent somewhere initially I think to see if I’m bothered.

I am quite particular but I know that such places do exist in the area I want to live but sell very quickly so being a cash buyer will help.

PippaZ Tue 24-Aug-21 22:59:37


There was an article in this week's Sunday Times saying that developers can now add extra floors onto apartment blocks without needing planning permission. It featured several disgruntled flat dwellers who had either paid a premium to live on the penthouse floor and now wouldn't be, or were concerned about the disruption (some would have to move out while building work was taking place).
It made me think that you have little security living in a flat....

I don't think the insecurity is because you live in a flat. The insecurity come because they are almost always leasehold. This country is pretty much alone in still having leasehold (which I've been told is the fault of Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries hmm). Scotland did have some. However, the government abolished leasehold in 2021. Flats are now basically held in common hold with the other dwellings in the building.

You may be able to find one where the owner holds the lease although they are rare. One of my friends lives in a block of flats, in England, where, over time, all the owners have bought their leases. They now run the block themselves for services, etc.

TwiceAsNice Tue 24-Aug-21 23:06:26

I would go for a small house/bungalow. I have lived in a flat , no garden but large balcony which was fine . However I paid management fees , which can be expensive, and can be increased at any time so please consider this as well as space.

TwiceAsNice Tue 24-Aug-21 23:07:53

Just to say also the flat was very quiet, never heard a sound from the neighbours

Bakingmad0203 Wed 25-Aug-21 07:05:46

Yes, some of the management fees are horrendous, nearly £4000 per year. Oddly it doesn’t seem to depend on the facilities available such as a pool or gym, but on the size of the communal gardens! It does worry me that they can be increased at any time, and presumably there is no control over the percentage of increase!

Peasblossom Wed 25-Aug-21 10:37:22

Just to say there is a difference between management fees and service charges, though the two terms are often used interchangeably.

Management fees are any expenses that the landlord occurs in managing the leasehold. Things like employing an agent, holding meetings, legal fees. They have to be audited and are usually applied in retrospect.

Service charges are for the maintenance of the building and facilities. These are usually charged in advance based on an estimate of expenses for the year. Some of the money can be accumulated in a holding fund for big future expenses. The landlord has to consult leaseholders on any big expense. Again yearly accounts have to be presented and any excess must either be returned to the leaseholder or put in the protected holding fund.

The f course there’s quite a bit of wriggle and opportunities for the unscrupulous there. But it’s not a free for all as some people fear.

This is English Law, not any other.

Peasblossom Wed 25-Aug-21 10:38:35

Of course.

Where did ‘the’ come from?

glammanana Wed 25-Aug-21 10:57:06

I just would just not like open plan living I would need a space for myself if I had a partner,when my husband was alive we looked at an apartment which was available but the lounge/kitchen was not to our wants the only space for solitude and peace was the bedroom so not for us .

Doodle Wed 25-Aug-21 10:58:53

We downsized to an apartment years ago after not being able to cope with the garden anymore.
Everyone has their own opinions but if you were to ask me, this is what I would advise.
Buy in a purpose built block as the sound insulation is better.
Small blocks look nice but don’t have enough tenants to warrant maintenance of a sufficient kind.
New builds are clean and fresh but you don’t have an idea of how the building will be maintained after 10 years or more.
Older builds tend not to have the new “all in one” styling for kitchen, lounge and diner together.
Read the terms of the lease well. See what restrictions are in place with regards noise etc.
A ground floor flat with outside space or a balcony is good.
Flats with communal gardens give you somewhere to sit outside.
See how the flat feels. If it feels small and cramped then it probably is. If it feels light and spacious then so much the better.
As for storage, beds with under bed drawers are helpful.

We moved to our flat over 10 years ago. It is two bedroom but has more floor area than our previous three bedroom bungalow. We have a separate kitchen and two big bathrooms
We have a balcony and communal gardens.
Our neighbours are great and we love it here.

If you buy near a station or too close to shops then your neighbours are likely to be commuters or rented out flats.
Ask how many flats are owner occupied as opposed to being let to tenants. We looked at over 30 apartments before we found where we wanted to live and had to wait 2 years till one came on the market.
Hope you find something that works for you.