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To ask why the Brits hate apartment-living?

(400 Posts)
PaulaLollie Thu 26-Apr-18 17:59:24

Hi all, I have been living in the UK for a few years, but I am originally from Europe and I have lived in multiple countries before moving to the UK.

I have never understood why the Brits seem to be so into living in a house vs. living in an apartment.

Where I come from, the wealthy live in huge, renovated, fancy apartments in nice historical buildings, right in the city centre. That is "the dream" for most, if you see what I mean.

In my home country, living in a house most of the times means living in the countryside/ suburbs, which is not what most people aspire to do, if they have the means to live in the city centre. The concept of having a family = living in a house does not really exist.

For example, I come from a comfortable family background, went to private school, and grew up in an apartment. Nearly all my childhood friends did the same. It never crossed my mind that growing up in an apartment was anything less than ideal.

Here in the UK (as widely shown here on Mumsnet) it sounds like the dream is living in a house, while living in an apartment is really not that great if you have an alternative.

Please, British mumsnetters, can you shed some light on this aspect of the British society? I genuinely just don't get it!

Thank you!

Eolian Thu 26-Apr-18 18:05:02

But lots of people here do aspire to live in the suburbs or the countryside! I enjoyed living in a flat in London for a while when I was in my twenties, but I wouldn't want that now. I don't ever want to live in a city again, and I like having my own garden and not sharing a building with other people (other than my family)!

2cats2many Thu 26-Apr-18 18:06:23

I think a lot of people like to have a garden. I certainly do.

JenBarber Thu 26-Apr-18 18:08:14

For me it's because I love having pets.

Did habe pets in a flat but only ever a couple and I like having lots of them running/bouncing/scampering about.

sonlypuppyfat Thu 26-Apr-18 18:08:37

Where would you hang your washing out? I've never met anyone who dreams of living in a flat

BearsDontDigOnDancing Thu 26-Apr-18 18:09:10

When we lived in Norway we had a lovely apartment, it was huge. I loved it. Massive balcony, nice and open.

I would not live in one in the UK. An apartment the size and standard of what we had in Norway would be out of our price range, whereas there it was run of the mill.

Living in a flat in the UK would be too small for us.

tortelliniforever Thu 26-Apr-18 18:10:18

I live in an appartment in Italy. It's taken me a long time to accept it. grin As soon as the sun comes out I want a bbq! I think it's partly because a lot of British city centres are not nice to live in /wander around. There is not much residential property just a lot of (boring) chain shops and bars.

Alpineflowers Thu 26-Apr-18 18:11:02

Loads of people in the UK like living in apartments/flats.

CuriousaboutSamphire Thu 26-Apr-18 18:11:16

Mmm! I don't know where you got that idea.

Families often like to have a garden. But most of the properties I go into are flats/apartments - I work in Lettings. Some of the most expensive properties I see are apartments, and I am talking 6 - 7K per month rent.

Maybe that is the difference - here, in general, a flat can be a basic level property, often 1 bedroomed, suitable for a single person / couple. But an apartment is bigger, often family sized and almost always more upmarket!

Pickleypickles Thu 26-Apr-18 18:11:29

Where would you sit with no garden? Or hang your washing out? Or let the dog wee?

IfyouseeRitaMoreno Thu 26-Apr-18 18:11:33

I love living in an apartment. You’re never lonely and I feel safer knowing someone is next door.

MereDintofPandiculation Thu 26-Apr-18 18:11:33

If you live in an apartment here, you are stuck indoors all the time. Roads are crowded, smelly and noisy, so sitting on a balcony isn't up to much, nor is walking through the streets. Therefore many people prefer to have their own bit of private garden.

S European countries have better weather and more of a street life than the UK. I don't know how living in a large flat in, say, Switzerland or Netherlands compares with what life in a large flat in UK could be.

Melassa Thu 26-Apr-18 18:11:40

I hang mine off my balcony. I have a back balcony especially for this purpose (and growing herbs, tomatoes and peaches). As it's Southern Europe my washing dries in a couple of hours tops.

SoyDora Thu 26-Apr-18 18:11:43

I’ve got a large house with a big garden, a garage and a drive that fits 4 cars. Don’t imagine I could have those things with an apartment.
I’ve lived in some lovely apartments in Paris, Madrid, Milan and Bristol. Still love my house grin

SoyDora Thu 26-Apr-18 18:12:02

Oh and we’ve got a dog.

WazFlimFlam Thu 26-Apr-18 18:12:11

Because those great big fancy flats you are talking about don't really exist. Certainly not in sufficient quantity to aspire to.

Leasehold laws in this country are a fuedal nightmare too.

Doobigetta Thu 26-Apr-18 18:12:33

Most British cities don't have many of the big, luxurious, multi-bedroomed apartments you find on the continent. London and Edinburgh do, but the others not so much. Also, in spite of our generally crappy weather, it's important to most British people to have a garden, and even now a lot of flats are built without balconies or terraces or communal gardens.
I agree with you- I love my flat. But for every lovely conversion or cool modern purpose-built block, there are a dozen damp, poky conversions or miserable 60s blocks. I'd like to see developers being forced to build more imaginative flats- big enough for families and with private outdoor space- instead of shitty 1 bedroom towers that are basically giant offshore piggy banks.

SinkGirl Thu 26-Apr-18 18:12:34

I’ve always fancied living in Frasier’s apartment. I think a big swanky City Flat would be my ideal, but I don’t think the toddler twins would be ideally suited to a balcony 😂

MereDintofPandiculation Thu 26-Apr-18 18:13:06

Some of the most expensive properties I see are apartments, and I am talking 6 - 7K per month rent. But are these taken by people who will live in them full time, or will they have properties elsewhere?

ikeepaforkinmypurse Thu 26-Apr-18 18:13:27

When the choice is living in a flat or in a tiny terraced with no privacy, I have no idea! I don't know why most brits love semi-detached either.

Aren't Will and Kate living in a "flat"? Isn't number 10 private home actually a flat too? (as opposed to the official rooms in there?).

It's the same with renting, so many renters in this country seem to have a huge chip on their shoulder. I have rented -flats-- for years, and never once felt looked down or faced with any negativity. Most people couldn't care less where and how others live.

pinkdelight Thu 26-Apr-18 18:13:40

There are plenty of expensive apartments in the city centre - historic mansion blocks, ultra modern newbuilds, refurbed warehouses, you name it. There are also lower priced council and newer build blocks and houses divided into flats. I don't think we hate apartment living by any stretch. But sure, a lot of people's aspiration is to have their own house and garden, if that's different to elsewhere then maybe it's because we're an island but then again most of the USA for instance seem to want their own house too. Or indeed Tanzanians! I don't think there's any real conclusions to be drawn, except what the traditional housing stock has been in each conurbation. Or maybe we just like minding our own business smile

88mph Thu 26-Apr-18 18:14:15

Well, a lot of flats are converted from old houses. They're poorly insulated and have little to none sound proofing. I hate living in a flat, I hear neighbours all around and am constantly worrying that my kids are making too much noise. There is little space and little storage.

maxthemartian Thu 26-Apr-18 18:14:19

Neighbour noise, mainly. I find the quality of soundproofing in UK flats woeful.
You get a lot of people saying that you have to accept a certain level of noise living in a flat. I don't want to accept that, so I live in a detached house.
I like a garden. I like being able to sit outside in private.
Also I don't really like being in among the hustle and bustle. I like to be able to get away from it and chill out in quiet peaceful suburbia.

Ardant Thu 26-Apr-18 18:14:31

Because they're tiny, with fuck-all soundproofing or air conditioning.

You are completely at the mercy of anti-social neighbours who are apparently without limit!

Highhorse1981 Thu 26-Apr-18 18:14:51


You say you’ve had a priviledged background and yet it’s given you little insight!

Private front door
Private garden
Private parking
Often much more storage (loft space)

I could go on

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