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crazy to consider a flat with a toddler (and in this market)
39

burgundy049 · 13/05/2022 09:10

We're in the proccess of buying a property and what with the CRAZY market, we began considering flats instead of houses as mortgage seems to be more maneagable with minimal maintainance.

We've just had an offer (probably too much) accepted on a mid floor flat which is the same floorspace as our current house.

It's a 6 year old building, with still 'some' development work going on in the area (building allotments down the road at some point) so needs very little upkeep and means we can overpay mortgage and have monies to buy another car and go on holiday, plus have £ for cost of living increase.
I've noticed that of the 6 flats 3 have sold or are for sale recently, but im guessing thats just usual turnover after 5 years of living somewhere 2 bed (hopefully).

We've a DS who will be 1 when we move in..
It's open plan living/kitchen/dining which we should be able to put a divider with a kallax or curtain to create space.

While I liked the space initially I'm now having doubts??
I don't want to be ''that' neighbour which has a really noisy toddler (who's just being their usual selves and not doing anything wrong but making noise as toddlers do) and I don't want DS getting frustrated by no space, or their toys / other stuff taking over EVERYTHING and us having no room.
There's not a garden, but is a little play park literally over the road and near lots of greenery so he'll be able to run about when we go out.

Does anyone have any tips for clever toy storage / other storage and noise dampening rugs etc?

Any ideas for splitting a bedroom for 2 children (for if second child comes along)]

Any tips for living in a flat with a toddler?

Are we crazy to do this?

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nearlyspringyay · 13/05/2022 09:12

Personally, I would only consider a garden flat with a toddler.

Nothing wrong with a flat but being able to just let them out in the garden makes life a whole lot easier.

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Whinge · 13/05/2022 09:20

I don't think a flat is a bad choice, but the flat you've chosen doesn't seem like it fits you and your families needs at all.

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Bear2014 · 13/05/2022 09:26

Living on one floor is great with small children but I would only consider a ground floor garden flat. We have a very small house for a family of 4 and the most important advice I could give is to have frequent, aggressive clearouts and use the whole room height for storage. Our eldest has a loft bed. But the garden is invaluable to feeling like we're not on top of each other all the time.

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Thursday37 · 13/05/2022 09:30

Why would you move from a house to a flat if you don't gain any extra space?
I would never consider anywhere without outside space with a toddler. Never. It doesn't sound like a family home at all.

You don't need to overpay the mortgage, that's only a MN obsession, buy the best house you can afford with just a little wriggle room for increased mortgage rates. You can remortgage down the line and reduce the term etc if you wish.

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Mammy55 · 13/05/2022 09:32

Having lived in a flat with a toddler, never ever again. Do not recommend 😂

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burgundy049 · 13/05/2022 09:58

we're currently renting a 2 bed house with tiny outdoor patio in an area we no longer want to be in.
We want to buy, and buy in a different area where houses go on market and sell within a week. Flat is closer to both of our works and child's childcare. Rent in new area is nearly 50% more than here, mortgage would be same or under rent cost.

We see it as a stepping stone for a few years - 5 year fixed mortgage and portable to anticipate moving in 4 years.

We're aware it's not ideal, but hoping it's doable in the short term while we get our incomes up and be able to afford a 3 bed house.

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MobLife · 13/05/2022 10:07

Have you checked how much the service charge is? And what the major works schedule is like for the coming few years? Leasehold flats can really sting....
I'd stay put until you can find a house

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CuteOrangeElephant · 13/05/2022 10:09

I lived in a flat with my toddler and it was fine. You just have to take them out to the park often.

DD is currently 4 and we recently moved into a house where we are gutting the garden, so currently it's not suitable for playing in. So again we are going to the park a lot.

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Heath3 · 13/05/2022 10:14

OP, all the reasons you gave for considering a flat make perfect sense. In my neck of the woods a flat would get you almost double the square footage for a similarly priced house. My sister and I were raised in flats and I'm raising my two DCs in a flat too. I personally love flats because of living in a single level and feeling that bit safer having neighbours above and below me. I also wouldn't consider ground floor flat because they tend to be much darker that the ones on higher floors and have issues with privacy. Millions of people around the world raise children in flats and often find that more convenient.

I don't think most people will complain about toddlers being toddlers as long as they are not jumping around in the dead of the night. My tips for storage are to maximize wall space and get as much wall mounted storage as you can. You could even put in murphy beds (even murphy bunk beds when they are older) that fold into the wall so you DCs can get more floor space to play during the day. Also where possible try and get multi-functional moveable furniture (e.g. coffee table on wheels which built in storage that kids can use to do art-work and house their art supplies and board games). If you have high ceilings you could think about loft beds for the kids to get more storage underneath. You do have to think like a minimalist when you buy toys (find things with longevity that they can play with in multiple ways).

If you need some real clever ideas look for youtube channels about Tiny houses. They do some really clever stuff with storage.

You could split a bedroom with a stud wall or equally let them share a room and enjoy each other's company.

Some youtube inspiration for you:


(this family has murphy bunk beds for kids)

https://cupofjo.com/2015/01/brooklyn-apartment-tour/
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KangarooKenny · 13/05/2022 10:14

I wouldn’t buy without a garden for a child.

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CellophaneFlower · 13/05/2022 10:15

It really does depend on the flat. I brought a child up in a flat. It was huge though, a 2 bed, but some were 3, so my 2nd bedroom was massive. It had good storage. No private outdoor space, which I hated, but it had a long communal balcony, that my toddler could ride cars up and down etc. It was social housing, so most flats had children in and the walls were really thick, so noise wasn't an issue. When my son got older, he played in the communal garden with the other children and I really think it benefited him, being an only child at the time.

So yes, being in a flat was fine for us, but it was a particularly suitable one. I'm now in a house with 2 young children and I'm almost certain I could never go back! They spend most of their time in the garden, they're 'proper' boys (if I'm allowed to say that now!) so always making dens/climbing trees/playing football. However, they've known the garden for most of their lives, so may be different had they not been used to it.

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burgundy049 · 13/05/2022 10:20

service charge and ground rent is about £1500 a year

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Elsie2022 · 13/05/2022 10:29

OP, the people who are saying they would never buy a home without a private garden are unlikely to have any great suggestions when electricity and gas double, food prices go up by another 25% and inflation is double digit. Which it will, by autumn, and this will persist for several years. I assume you have to move further out to get a house and spend the same and petrol costs would also increase so you will be more out of pocket.

Sure you can sit in your jumpers and turn the heating off and shop at Aldi but that is unlikely to make any meaningful savings. 1 in 4 kids are in poverty (and we aren't even talking about the kids who can't afford school trips and ballet lessons) and perhaps there is a reason for this- kids, inflation and cost of a satisfactory 'family home' and childcare perhaps do add up quite a bit!

I have no DC but bought a 2 bed flat in zone 3 London with a communal garden so I can take the tube everywhere. Considering upgrading to a 3 bed flat rather than a 3 bed house and overpay the savings instead. Given the cost of living crisis, I am glad that I didn't do what everyone else did and buy a 'family home' in the sticks where I have to pay £800 for me and DH to commute 3 X a week. Right now I am paying the difference into my mortgage, saving on interest and can also afford two long haul flights this year.

I would do the math and buy the cheapest place you can get considering transport costs and ancillary costs with 2 bedrooms and at least a communal garden..

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thewaitislong · 13/05/2022 10:54

I don't understand the Mumsnet snobbery about flats. We lived in a flat with my son up to when he was 4 and it was perfectly fine. We had a small balcony which was useful in summers and a park at a 5 minute walk and went there a lot when he wasn't at school. Flat living was great as the flat was in a great location so there was always loads to do in our neighborhood. Never heard a peep from our neighbours and no one ever complained to us about noise. Flat was newer built so had good insulation I suppose.
Agree with not buying a ground floor flat though, lots of privacy issues and you mostly need to keep windows and curtains closed otherwise people peer in.
I think it's a sensible decision financially. I wish we had bought a flat years ago instead of waiting much longer to buy a house.
Children are fine everywhere honestly, they don't "need" gardens. We have a big garden now (still renting), and although it's visually pleasing, it's not of much practical use. On good days we are out and about elsewhere, on others it's mostly too cold for the child to want to go in the garden, or the child is at school or clubs. We probably use the garden a few days a year at most to play cricket or badminton (both can be done at nearby parks). So yes gardens are overrated for children, as long as you have access to parks and other activities in your area.
Flats are absolutely fine for children (I lived all my childhood in flats till I turned 18), and none of us has a 'bad' childhood because of that 😊

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pjani · 13/05/2022 11:10

I agree with the last few posts, plenty of people raise children in flats and yes I’m sure it would be great to have a garden but if it’s a 5 year plan you know it’s not forever. Just make sure you build in time going over across the road each day. I think you’re being very pragmatic and it sounds like a good decision.

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CellophaneFlower · 13/05/2022 11:31

I don't understand the Mumsnet snobbery about flats

I don't think this is a MN phenomenon. I think in this country, a house has always been the aspiration, especially for a family.

I do assume more families are in flats as they have to be, rather than they choose to be. From my experience anyway. Definitely not the case in the city though.

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kirinm · 13/05/2022 12:52

We live in a flat with our 3 (nearly 4) year old - we've been here since way before she was born so we've been through the toddler period. Honestly, it has been fine. She's incredibly active so we are often out and about at the weekends and we are conscious of the noise she can make so try - to a degree - to be sensitive to neighbours but we are entitled to live there and unfortunately, she is a small child who can make noise.

We do have a garden but to be honest, we are at the park more than we use the garden.

I have no objections to living in a flat - my main gripe is the noise from other flats rather than anything about our actual flat. We are in London though so lots of people with kids live in flats.

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miltonj · 13/05/2022 12:57

I live in a flat with my toddler and soon to be newborn. It works fine fine for now, but preferred living in a house with her. It's the garden thing that really matters. There's a huge difference between opening the back door and letting them burn off some steam, vs getting them all dressed and ready to go to the play ground. As I say it works for now, we're just renting whilst abroad, but I wouldn't invest in a flat with no garden with a young family.

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DomusAurea · 13/05/2022 13:33

We lived in a flat when we had only Toddler A - we used to go to the park and to other places... then we moved into a house with a garden, and Baby B was born, then toddler B, and we still preferred much more to go to the park and to places. It was ok having a garden, and nice to have barbecues and friends round, great to have bikes storage etc - but definitely not an essential for parenting and to be completely honest neither of my children were too fussed about it.

I also grew up in a flat, in a different country where people have less private gardens even if the weather is infinitely warmer than the uk. We went to the beach or the park, I never felt something was missing. And in fact, when my parents moved to a larger house with outside space I really missed where we were, with access to everything. As other people have mentioned already in the thread I'd always prefer location to house. It's lonely and boring in the sticks.

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Elsie2022 · 13/05/2022 14:02

@CellophaneFlower Boris Johnson's interior designer Lulu lytle lives in a top floor £4 million flat with her 3 kids, dog and investment banker husband. She has no private garden either! Probably a shared garden though. It's definitely a choice for her as there are many houses for less than £4 million even in the nice parts of London. It's a curious thing in the UK where the middle and lower classes strive for suburban houses but lots of rich people have families in city apartments.

I think it's because the discrepancy between flat and houses isn't so large in a cheap area. If the jump is 50k, that's not so large and you might as well get a house. But if the jump is 200-300k (for me and that is without the third bedroom) or in the case of LL, the house isn't even available in the location she wants, apartment living makes a lot of sense. And expensive areas have a bigger supply of private blocks, my flat is from the 1930s.

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Amichelle84 · 13/05/2022 14:52

Personally I wouldn't. I live renting in a 2 bed maisonette now and we have 2 under 2 and also lived here with just 1. We are looking to buy but are going to love further out so we can afford a house.

I wouldn't buy a flat because you run out of space so quickly as they get older. They want to run around more. Also sounds like it doesn't have space for you to grow in to it, would you want to sell for something bigger in say 2 years time?

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rustycarpet · 13/05/2022 14:59

I wouldn't buy if you think you will want /need to sell in 4 years unless you are happy to be stuck there for longer. The way things are going it's quite possible the housing market could change as mortgages get more expensive. It won't necessarily be a case of you won't be able to sell but might be you'll struggle to find somewhere or extend mortgage later. I would just keep in mind you may end up there longer and are you ok with that?

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DockOTheBay · 13/05/2022 15:07

It's all very well people saying they would never consider a flat/house without a garden, but if that's what you can afford it's not very helpful. Or if you could get a tiny cramped flat with a garden vs. a bigger first floor flat, having the indoor space is much more useful in this country where weather is generally rubbish.

The flat sounds fine as a short term measure. You have a park nearby. If she goes to preschool or nursery, maybe opt for one which has a lot of outdoor space to make up for less outdoor time at home.

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Elsie2022 · 13/05/2022 15:13

@DockOTheBay but that's the thing- what's the definition of 'afford'? Most flats are in urban areas. There is probably a town 50 miles away where you can get a 2 bed house for the same price as 2 bed flat. Far from family maybe but there are people who live in different countries. However, is it a good decision to do so i.e. if the 400k house 50 miles away means paying national rail £400 per month to commute and this is doubled, while the bank will probably let you do this as they don't seem to add in potential commuting fares in their affordability assessment, I think it probably leaves you with less buffer for cost of living crisis.

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Organictangerine · 13/05/2022 15:15

Honestly don’t do it. Not a flat but I was in a gardenless tiny townhouse with open plan lounge/diner/kitchen and a very mobile toddler. Coupled with the lockdowns I can honestly say it drove me to a nervous breakdown. With children you really need separate rooms and an outdoor area of sorts to retain your sanity. Plus flats are incredibly hot in summer.

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