Downsizing From a House to an Apartment

One of the most popular reasons to downsize from a house to a strata apartment is for lifestyle reasons. Whether your kids have grown up and left the nest, or you’re looking to reduce your bills or you simply want to invest your money elsewhere, there are many things you should consider first before downsizing and taking on strata ownership.

Apartment living offers a completely different lifestyle, which can take some adjustment if you’ve spent numerous years living in a house. However, for many, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. We take a closer look.

Benefits of apartment living

  1. Easy maintenance
    Typically, an apartment is smaller than a house, which means less cleaning, vacuuming and property maintenance. Communal property areas such as gardens, swimming pools and gyms are taken care of by the owners corporation, so you don’t need to worry about mowing the lawn, cleaning the pool or clearing gutters. Instead, you can spend more time focusing on the things you love, such as catching up with friends or enjoying a holiday. Any issues with plumbing, electricals, or balcony door windows can also be communicated to the Strata Manager who will arrange any repairs for you. However, each resident within an apartment will pay quarterly strata levies which contributes towards the total maintenance costs.
  2. Cheaper bills
    Another perk of living in an apartment compared to a house is that the household bills are generally cheaper. As your apartment is smaller, it uses less energy to heat or cool the property meaning cheaper energy bills. Having a gym or pool onsite could also mean cancelling your gym membership and using the strata scheme’s facilities instead.
  3. Affordability
    Apartments tend to be much more affordable compared to houses, which is great for first-time buyers or anyone with a limited budget looking to get a step on the property ladder.
  4. Increased safety
    When living in an apartment, you tend to have more security which also means lower insurance costs. This could involve gated access to car parks, swipe or keycode building access, intercoms and security lift access. Larger strata schemes may also have security cameras and a security guard in the lobby. With more people coming and going throughout the day, any suspicious behaviour can be spotted, helping to deter thieves from breaking into your apartment.
  5. Greater amenities
    One of the top benefits of living within an apartment building is all the amenities and facilities that come with it. Depending on the strata scheme, residents can enjoy swimming pools, gyms, playgrounds, communal gardens, laundry facilities or even a shared rooftop balcony. For larger or newer complexes, you may even receive concierge service, private meeting rooms, library, wine room, cinema and more.
  6. A sense of community

Apartment living is a great way to get to know your neighbours and be part of a community, especially for those who may live alone. Look out for notices on the communal noticeboard for events such as a monthly barbecue or picnic which is a great opportunity to get to know everyone better. Plus, with more communal spaces, there’s more chance to run into your neighbours too.

  1. Great location

Typically, apartments are conveniently located close to all of your everyday essentials including, public transport, shops, cafes and schools. This makes it easier to access everything you need on foot or a short commute.

What are the cons of apartment living?

  1. Smaller living space
    When downsizing from a house to an apartment, space is likely to be one thing you notice the most. However, many apartments offer functional living, with clever storage options and design. You also might have a separate storage cage or garage, as well as a balcony, courtyard or small garden area. Less space also means less cleaning and tidying and lower energy bills. Within a strata scheme, there may also be more communal areas to enjoy outside of the home if you’re missing green spaces.
  2. Noise
    Noise levels can be a serious factor for many people, especially if your neighbours are having late-night parties, undergoing renovations or there is loud barking from pets. There are laws and noise restrictions that residents need to abide and there may also be strata regulations in place. However, if you want to make a noise complaint, there are various steps you can take to address this including, speaking to your Strata Manager.
  3. Less renovation potential
    An apartment offers less opportunity for renovations compared to your own home. If your renovation goes onto common property such as the ceiling, flooring and any common property doors or walls like the front door, then you will have to seek permission from the owners corporation first and get approval before any work can take place.
  4. Strata levies

All apartment owners are required to pay quarterly strata levies that cover the cost of maintaining the building and shared common areas such as hallways, lifts, car parks, swimming pools and gyms. The Administrative Fund covers the day-to-day expenses, whilst the Capital Works Fund is used for future major expenses. Strata levies depend on your unit entitlement – typically the larger the unit, the more you will have to pay. Also, keep in mind a strata scheme with more facilities will have higher strata levies compared to a boutique apartment block with fewer facilities. If you miss a payment of your levies, interest and charges will apply.

Other things to consider when moving from a house to an apartment

  1. By-laws
    Each strata scheme has its own unique by-laws that all residents need to abide by. This could be anything from the keeping of pets to paint colours or parking rules. Your Strata Manager can provide you with a copy of the by-laws, and we recommend reading these.
  2. You don’t own everything in your apartment
    Unlike a house, not everything in a strata apartment is owned by the property owner. A strata owner typically owns the air space within the lot boundaries along with the fixtures and fittings such as kitchen cabinets, carpet and paint on the walls. However, external walls, the ceiling, roof and floor are typically common property, which is collectively shared between all lot owners.
  3. Insurance

Within strata, owner occupiers have Strata Insurance and Contents Insurance. Strata Insurance will come out of your strata fees and levies and is shared between all owners. We recommend getting Contents Insurance to cover all of your apartment’s belongings. It’s best to speak to a reputable insurance broker before you take out a contents insurance policy and shop around to compare policies to get the best deal. We recommend using Coverforce.

  1. Strata meetings

Any important decisions that affect the owners will be made at a strata meeting. The outcome is decided by a simple majority vote, so it is in your best interests as an owner to attend these strata meetings and have your say. Owners are required to receive at least one week notice of the meeting, and notices can be distributed to letterboxes, emails and on community noticeboards. Keep in mind that a majority ruling may not always be in your favour and you may be left disappointed at times.

Get in touch

Want to learn more about making the move from a house to a strata apartment? Speak to the expert team at Strata Master today.

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37/342 Military Rd, Cremorne
Sydney, NSW 2090

Ph: 02 9909 5300

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