Money Property Ten ways to stay sane in a small apartment
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Ten ways to stay sane in a small apartment

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It’s no secret that as housing prices continue to climb, so do the number of teeny-tiny apartment towers springing up like mushrooms across Australia’s cities.

A Victorian state government report released this month noted that for the first time ever, more apartments than houses were being built in Melbourne’s growth areas.

So with more of us living in less space than ever, how can we make the most of every square metre we have, without climbing the walls?

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Having recently moved into my own ‘cosy’ one-bedroom apartment, here are my suggestions to staying sane in a place only just big enough to swing a cat (if your body corporate allows it).

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Chuck out or sell what you don’t need.

1. Keep only what you really need/love

I didn’t realise how much superfluous stuff I had before I moved into my mini apartment. Despite countless trips to the op shop, I’m still regularly tossing stuff out. Living small makes you question how many possessions you really need. The plus side is you value everything that you decide you do need.

2. Limit your time working from home

As a freelancer, personally I find that I go mad if I don’t create a solid divide between my home and work life. I work regularly from a co-working space, or if I’m trying to save my pennies, set up shop (aka my laptop) at a local library or cafe.

3. Have a heady social life

You could watch reality TV every night from the confines of your McMansion. Or, why not actually live your own life? Calling a small place home is great in that it encourages you to get out and do interesting stuff. You may suddenly be visiting your friends and family more (especially if they have bigger houses and backyards for you to lounge around in!). All going well, you may also have more money to spend on things you enjoy doing such as eating out, massages, movies or new adventures.

4. Get creative with storage

In a larger place, you might not give that much thought to storage, but in a small pad it’s everything. What can you do to get the most out of every square centimetre? Pinterest has plenty of inspiration for compact living, from using the space under your bed, to buying a couch with inbuilt storage.

Treat your local park like your garden.
Treat your local park like your garden.

5. Make the most of your local parks

A bad case of cabin fever can almost always be quickly and cheaply remedied by a quick ride, run or stroll around the local park. Take the weekend newspaper there for a read in the sun, or ditch your cramped kitchen occasionally to create dinner via your closest park’s free (hopefully) barbecues.

6. Be neat as a pin

I’m trying to train myself to put everything in its own little spot as soon as I stop using it. Neat freaks will probably find it easier than anyone to live in close quarters with everything they own. I’m not one of them.

7. Be outdoors as much as possible

One of the biggest things I miss in my tiny apartment is having outdoor space. I try and counteract that by riding to work, organising outdoors catch-ups with mates or just going for a walk around the block.

8. Join a local community garden

Just because you live in a four-walled concrete/brick box doesn’t mean you can’t get amongst nature, or even grow your own vegies. If you are so inclined you could join the local community garden, or even find an older or very busy person that needs a spare set of willing hands to help keep their garden in good shape.

Just because it's small doesn't mean it can't look nice.
Just because it’s small doesn’t mean it can’t look nice.

9. Make your space beautiful

The thing I’ve most enjoyed about moving into my little place is getting it just how I want it. Buying beautiful artwork, giving the walls a fresh coat of paint, or just choosing a handful of lovely knick-knacks can make you feel happier about coming home.

10. Think of the good stuff

There are some definite upsides to living in a smaller space. Blogger Natalie Esler, of Millie Mummy Melbourne, who shares a two-bedroom apartment with her husband and young daughter, says for her, living this way has been a plus.

“We’re lucky to live in a suburb with bustling shopping strips, parks and the beach close by, so there’s no real need for a big backyard,” she says.

“Heating/cooling costs are lower too – with a bub you’re always trying to regulate the temperature no matter the season. Our entire indoor space can be heated/cooled from the one reverse-cycle unit, then switched off.”

And sometimes coming home to a nice little place can just leave you feeling as snug as a bug.

A version of this story was originally published on www.heylittlespender.com.

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