Five Ways Apartment Living Can Make your Life Better

Oh, the glory of the apartment. If only everyone had to live in an apartment again. It teaches people so much about compromise, downsizing, simplifying—appreciating and making the most of the space available. If you're not looking forward to the idea of living in an apartment, here are some unexpected valuable life lessons that living in an apartment can teach you.

1. Storage Skills

Think of all the specialty stores out there for small space living. The storage and furniture are usually pretty creative, right? Say you're moving out from your parents' house for the first time. Maybe you're used to spreading out, having a drawer for every kitchen tool ever invented, and a bathroom suited to hold every cosmetic you own. An apartment bathroom may have a sink, toilet and single shower—and that's it. A kitchen may have a fridge, some cupboards, and a hot plate. All of a sudden, you're forced to be work within a smaller space than you're used to. You have to get scrappy with what you have around.

College kids are known for having cardboard drawers improvised into refrigerators and closets. Duct tape suddenly becomes a sacred tool. Building up instead of out is another technique to maximize space. Think bunk beds with sliding plastic bins stored underneath. Storage becomes a skillful game rather than a luxury.

2. Patience

A pair of women exchanging a gift.

Anyone who has ever lived in an apartment has a crazy neighbor story. Because people often get placed in spaces without really knowing who their surrounding neighbors are, there's bound to be some different personalities peppered throughout a complex. Maybe someone is a lover of classical music and they're always practicing their violin after you get home from work. Maybe a newborn baby lives right above you and it isn't just crying that you hear, but a tired mother stomping from her bed to the crib in a half-awake, zombie state. Whatever the case may be, view these as opportunities for tolerance. View them as an invitation for you to communicate with your neighbors and get to know the people living around you. Knock on their door and introduce yourself. Maybe don't start out by saying "Your violin really annoys me every night," but ask to learn more about why they're studying, or offer to babysit so the tired mom can finally rest. After getting to know the people you're surrounded by, you're sure to be more understanding when those shrieking sounds come through your walls. Whether you meant for it to happen or not, this is your community now. Engage with it (and with patience).

3. Accountability

Paying rent on time is a given. It's your part of the deal for getting to live in your rented space. Living in an apartment also usually entails placing a security deposit, which are one way you're held accountable in the long term. If you get it back, that's money you can use toward your next place.

As you've probably noticed, apartment living is secretly a way for you to gain valuable life skills that you might not have otherwise. View it as an opportunity to grow as an individual who can get through any situation!

4. Simplifying

A small kitchen.

This is related to storage skills because the less you have to store, the easier it is to live within a small space. Because you simply might not manage to fit everything you own in an apartment space, it may be in your best interest to simplify.

Simplifying doesn't have to make you think about living in the woods with no water or electricity; it's not that extreme. What if you could look through every box you have and donate 2/3 of it? Apartment living forces you to think about your necessities. What can you live without? Do you need two blow dryers? When was the last time you read that book? Would someone else benefit from having that second (just in case) coffee pot?

Donating makes you more generous while simplifying makes you breathe easier. Apartment living can be a weight lifted off your shoulders.

5. Compromise

Often, people live in apartments with others. It's a way to reduce the rent, but also results in exercising compromise. It's possible you grew up with siblings you argued with over who gets to use the shower first, but as adults living with acquaintances or even close friends, it can't operate the same way. You have to give a little to get a little. It's a balancing act.

Being kind and generous to your roommates gives incentive for them to do the same. It's what makes a household stay in harmony. You can't be selfish within a small space—you have to learn to share. It's sort of like growing up all over again. It's not always easy and people disagree. You learn a lot about people's habits and ways of life. Diversity is what makes the world go round, so use other people's habits as a way to learn about yourself. What can they teach you about what you like and dislike? This will lead to more tolerance and a better picture of what you want for a living situation in the future.