Apartment Living

  • Our First Month

So we’ve been living in an apartment for a month now! The only thing I have to compare apartment living to is my freshman year of college and so we’re quite new to this! After only a month of living here, I feel like we’re getting the hang of it! However, there have been a few things that we are unsure about and I’m really hoping we’re not weird. So if you are currently living in an apartment or have lived in an apartment in the past and these things have happened to you or crossed your mind… PLEASE let us know that we’re not the only ones!!!

We moved into our apartment complex and we have loved it! It’s only a few years old, there is a gym and they have a TRASH VALET! What?! It’s amazing! You leave your trash can outside of your door each night and they pick up your TRASH for you!! The amazing thing is that this apartment complex wasn’t the most expensive in the area, it was just the right fit for us!! The added bonus is FREE TRASH PICK-UP!!!

So after a month of living here…. give or take a few… ok maybe 14 travel days, we have realized a few things. If we’re crazy… just don’t leave a comment. If we’re normal, let us know!!

1. Bokeh growls at EVERY little sound. He’s not used to his new home yet and it’s getting a little ridiculous! We leave CMT playing on the TV when we leave the house just to keep him from hearing anything!!
2. Our neighbor likes garlic… unfortunately. We have candles in every nook and cranny and yet we cannot seem to escape the smell of our neighbor’s dinner at times! It’s the worst!!! If you see me and I smell like garlic, that’s why.
3. It’s harder to keep a small space clean. Just coming home from a shoot makes the living room look like a BOMB went off!!
4. The “spare” bedroom for guests is really just a “spare closet”.
5. The street lamps (because we’re on the first floor) create an inescapable GLOW throughout the night and Michael has woken up TWICE in the middle of the night and thought the sun was coming up!! These things are BRIGHT!!
6. You have to be on puppy-potty alert constantly. I can’t just open the door and let Bokeh run out like I used to. I have to have a coat and shoes!
7. We have the crappiest cars in the parking lot! haha Michael and I don’t ever want car payments and so we drive very basic cars… like, we JUST BOUGHT a Tahoe with 183,000 miles on it! So when we park next to the Infinities and the Audi’s and the BMW’s… I just have to remind myself that we’re investing in other things and our little basic cars work just fine!!
8. We have a POOL! Michael makes us put our feet in when we walk past it just to make sure we’re not missing prime layout time! … Like I’m going to ever layout… HA! I’d fry. #redheadprobs
9. We have been using the gym and we love it!!! It’s small and it’s DEAD during the day so we go in the afternoon together! Lets pray this continues.
10. We can’t yell. We’re normal… we have fights…. we raise our voices every now and then. I forget that people can HEAR our fights now and so it’s actually been good for us to just talk it out because we literally CAN’T let it escalate!
11. Michael won’t let me hang ANYTHING on the walls! No curtains. No Frames. No ANYTHING! It’s miserable! (This is one reason why #10 takes place!) He says it’s temporary but I like living in a space that feels like home! We’ll see who wins! haha
12. We’ve realized that we have a storage unit full of stuff that we really don’t need. It’s amazing how you can collect so much CRAP in just 5 years of marriage. We’re thankful for this season of living a more simplified life. We’re learning a lot about ourselves in the process and it’s so good for us!!!

Hopefully we’re not the only ones who have stories like this from apartment living!! We have 7 more months here and so we’re looking forward to pool days and not having a yard to take care of! We’re going from NO yard to 7 ACRES… talk about a big shift!! Thanks for reading!!

Happy Thursday Friends!

To learn more about our house building process, follow HMH on Instagram!

To read how we bought land that wasn’t for sale, click here!

To read why we’re moving in the first place, click here!

xoxo, Katelyn
40 Comments A Home Made for Hosting, Personal
  1. Jasmine reply

    You’re not crazy! Get some blackout curtains! Those will help you sleep at night and they make these “twist and turn” curtain rods so you can hang them up without putting holes in the wall or window frame.

  2. Meredith reply

    Totally not crazy! The one time we lived in an apartment our neighbor cooked curry and the place always smelled interesting. The hanging picture thing would KILL me. Get pretty 3m hooks and ribbon and hang them. Curtains and everything. Problem solved with no holes in the wall.

  3. Tate reply

    The garlic!! That just made me laugh. ;-)

  4. Ryan & Rach reply

    Ehhhh apartment living!! You all are not crazy at all!! Totally normal!! Although the every night trash pickup sounds like a huge perk Our pup barked at most noises the first few weeks but then got use to it all of it. Yes, it’s crazy how much we miss just letting him run around in the fenced in back yard as well! Wishing you all the best!! Can’t wait to see the new place, 7 acres sounds like fun!!!

  5. Sarah reply

    TOTALLY agree with #3, #10, and #11! We had college girls as our neighbors for over a year. Their living room shared a wall with our bedroom, so their nightly parties / late night loud girl talks was brutal. I feel ya!! It’s only for a little bit longer! It’ll make your home feel even MORE amazing :)

  6. Linda reply

    It’s a fun adventure for sure! Try light blocking curtains! They work wonders for me when we were near street lights!!

  7. Sarah Anne Hayes reply

    I can totally understand how the no hanging of things is frustrating! A great option for pictures especially is the 3M velcro strips. You put a strip on the wall, a strip on the frame, they velcro together, and they’re AWESOME. I used them in college and in my first apartment.

    Also, for curtains, check how much a set of curtains would weigh and I’ll be you can find command hooks that are designed to hold that much weight. Seriously…command hooks/strips are awesome.

  8. Sydni reply

    Having a pool and gym, not having to do yard work, and being able to have work orders quickly filled were our fave parts of apt living. Enjoy it! We lived on the first floor and it was always pretty bright too! Our curtains were fairly thin so they didn’t help a lot either.

  9. Didi reply

    WOW! This brought back many memories. We have not lived in an apartment in so long, we almost forgot. Thanks for the memories and making us laugh. Walls are so thin even in the most expensive, well built apartment that Bokeh barks because his hearing is so keen and he can hear little thing. Same with the smells. Feel blessed that it is only garlic you smell and not someone’s horrible pipe or nasty cheap cigar!! The 3M things for pictures and other things are great because they leave no marks. The reason your neighbors have beautiful cars is because they live in an apartment!! It’s kind of a tradeoff. After while we got used to the lights so now we have to leave our outside lights in our back yard on all night so we can sleep! You and Michael raise your voices??? JT is very fond of saying when we have a disagreement, “I’ll bet Katelyn and Michael don’t yell at each other!” You are a riot and made my whole morning just laughing !! I need something to make me smile – I have a birthday tomorrow and I am not smiling much thinking about that!! Hugs to you both from both of us!!

  10. Shalese reply

    I live in the Fan, so I totally get the glow issue! If you tell Michael that black out curtains REALLY work AND help keep the apartment cool in the summer, he might change his mind about the no hanging stuff rule. ;)

  11. Stefanie Harrington reply

    Oh my gosh, I can SO relate to these!!!! When I was pregnant with our second, a tree fell on our house so we were in an apartment for almost a year with a toddler, a baby, 2 Labs. I ended up hiring a dog walker, because I felt like I might crack under the pressure of the toddler, baby and tree debacle, and the dogs needed a yard. I made everyone move home much too early (the workers were still working away in our house for months). But I did enjoy many of those conveniences of apartment living :)

  12. Marie-Laure reply

    It was fun to hear your comments. In my opinion noises from neighbors is the worst thing to deal with . You’re lucky in a few months this will be over. Be strong. Would you please post some pictures of your apartment. I like how you decorate your last home so i’m curious to see what yo(ve done now.

  13. Janelle reply

    You guys are TOTALLY normal! I see both sides of the artwork on the wall issue — We lived in an apartment for 2 years and I only hung 4-5 of our wedding photos. Partially because of being lazy, and partially because we didn’t know how long we would be there!!
    And apartment living is great for making you work through things rationally instead of raising voices! But now that we own a home and love our neighbors, we’re always like, “Shhh… We don’t need them to hear us yelling!” haha! It goes both ways :)

  14. Lindsay reply

    We recently moved to an apartment too! We get DoggieLawn for our pup and put it outside on the balcony. It comes either once a month or every two weeks. It’s real live grass, so Quincy hasn’t had any trouble using it, and then you just throw it away when you get a new one. It’s actually more environmentally friendly than plastic and allows us to just open the door to the balcony. There is a separate tray that goes underneath to keep the mess at bay. Not sure if that would be possible for you guys, but it really helps us!

  15. Stephanie reply

    Maybe you’ll learn to LOVE the smell of garlic by the time you leave! :)
    My husband and I lived in one of the only apartment complexes available in a college town and it was literally the worst. We had football players on one side and a few band students on the other, so if we weren’t listening to bro country wafting through the walls at 3am we were listening to someone practicing their trumpet.
    And the roaches. Oh, the roaches…
    Anyway, even with all of the negatives, I wouldn’t trade that year in an apartment for ANYTHING, and I hope you and Michael are able to say the same thing by the end of this season!! :)

  16. Katelyn James reply

    Thanks so all the encouragement and letting us know we’re not alone!! ;) We will DEFINITELY have to get some black out curtains of some kind!!! Thanks for the tips!!

  17. Paulina reply

    ahhh! i totally get the bright light thing! 2 things that helped me were: if you have horizontal blinds, close them upward as it will direct the light from outside upward onto the ceiling instead of down onto your faces. and the second thing: i started wearing an eye mask which helped me a bit… but I’m moving so hopefully I don’t need it anymore! . you could also get a blackout curtain for the window that lets in the street light. for #11: use command strips! they allow you to hang art without putting holes the the wall! (the brand is called command.) 7 more months is a long time without anything that feels like home on the walls . so excited for you katelyn!! love reading your home journey!

  18. Kristina reply

    Honestly, it’s worth paying the $100 fine at the end of your lease, and hanging curtains/pictures on walls – if that means less fighting and your apartment looking more homey. Yes the guest room is just a big storage closet, and yes you do get to consolidate and throw away a lot of trash when you downsize. The trick is to not build it back up when you move to the new place :)

  19. Lisa reply

    We lived in two apartments in over four years – and each time we knew it was temporary because we were living cheap to buy our house – so my first piece of advice HANG THINGS UP! You can always fix holes, you can always fix paint – but it makes a HUGE difference! It really does feel like your home and it helps with the noise situation because sound isn’t just bouncing off of walls. And I saw the black out curtain idea posted – those are AMAZING. We had them and LOVED them! Also – I feel ya on the car situation. But we kept the same outlook – we’re investing in other things. And onto the cleaning concept – yes, we had the same problem. Get some entry way organization cubes/shelving or a cute bench that has storage, so you can immediately put items that cause clutter away. Or, which help us actually a great deal, if you have a coat closet – designate that as where all of your equipment goes and just be diligent about putting it away as soon as you get home. Good luck with apartment living!

  20. Sarah Bradshaw reply

    Ooooooh, girlfriend. After 4 years of living in the city (all in tiny spaces), I TOTALLY feel you!! We were living in an apartment when we got Guster. Puppy potty training looked like going outside, up a flight of stairs (basement apartment), opening a large privacy fence door, exiting an alley, and finally finding a patch of grass close by. NOT fun at midnight!!!

    And I also completely understand about how a small space makes it harder to keep things clean. The upside is it’s easier to clean up, since there’s less in the space! I’ve spent the majority of the past 12 years (actually, my entire life) living in small apartments or tiny houses, so I know what you’re feeling. I’ve LOVED Marie Kondo’s book on decluttering to help keep things tidy!

    Also… command hooks are your BEST FRIENDS. I understand Michael doesn’t want to settle too much, since the space is temporary, but having just one or two things in each room makes it feel like home rather than a hotel.

  21. Zara reply

    I just moved back to Denver and went from a 2500 square foot home with a HUGE yard for the puppies to a 750 sq foot apartment. It’s definitely a challenge but like you mentioned I love how simple my life become when I got rid of crap that I wasn’t even using.

    I did decorat the heck out of my place, because I spend so much time at home and because it makes me feel good.

    The dogs definitely bark at everything, and mine are huge and loud!!! So closing all the blinds and leaving radio or TV on is a must.

    Oh and I’ve got Sentseys everywhere, and they are on 24-7.

    I miss having a yard, but that’s about it. Good luck!!! And 7 months will fly by!

  22. Yasmin reply

    The bottom line is- you gotta live wherever you are living! so Don’t forget to LIVE! Hang up pictures, curtains, whatever!!! It will make waiting for your new home so much easier and less stressful when you don’t feel like your apartment is as temporary.
    I had all my stuff in storage for a month and stayed at a friends vacant place. It wasn’t easy! I only had a carry on of clothes for 1 month!
    By the way, out here in California it’s quite normal to live in an apartment! Lol! Apartments sell for upwards of $350,000.

  23. Kimberly reply

    Our house flooded and we had to move out 76 days while it was rebuilt. We moved in with family and we learned to live very simply! I too learned that I had a house full/storage full of just wants not necessarily needs! Glad today that I got to experience this at least once so I could learn this little life leason, all you need in life is family and friends, the rest of it is just things!

  24. Abby reply

    Not crazy at all. I loved my blackout curtains once I hung them up in my old apartment. My neighbors would yell when they would fight, I could hear everything they were arguing about, definitely talk it out. And I completely understand the car situation. I parked next to my neighbors mazaratti every day in my little xterra!

  25. Marquette Mower reply

    Other than the puppy related ones, we’ve experienced all of those!! Apartment living is it’s own world. I always decorate our apartments, no matter how temporary or more long term it is. At the time, that is home, and I want it to feel like home. I want it to be a place where I can relax and feel at ease. We’re currently in a TINY little place and it’s taught us so much about what we need and don’t need, it’s amazing! Apartment living really teaches a lot and isn’t so bad. I am looking forward to our own place one day, but until then, we’re making the most of it!

  26. Emily reply

    You’re definitely not crazy; hubby and I have been in our 1 bedroom, under 600 sq ft apartment for over 4 years. I’ll add my experiences in order of 1 – 10 compared to yours ;)

    1) Our cats stare at the walls for NO REASON whatsoever. We hear weird noises all the time, and the cats thing the world is ending. Also, they freak the heck out whenever the alarm in the building goes off.

    2) Going hand-in-hand with #1, the fire alarm goes off ALL THE TIME because everyone in this building (for some reason) leaves their doors open when they cook, so the burnt food smell plus the smoke causes it to go off. Not to mention there’s a lot of ethnic food that is prepared in this building; sometimes there’s no oxygen whatsoever between apartments.

    3) Agreed with keeping a smaller space clean. You have less place to hide/stow things so it’s either add furniture that takes up space, or get rid of stuff.

    4) No spare bedroom for us, so we can’t relate. But our storage room is full to the brim. PLUS we rent a storage unit outside the apartment to fit the rest.

    5) We’re on the basement floor, and though there aren’t street lamps directly around our building, there are tenants who come and go at ridiculous hours of the night, and their car lights shine right on our bedroom window. Thank goodness for blackout curtains!

    (skipping 6 cause we don’t have a dog :P)

    7) Cars in the lot are very similar for us. We’re in a lower budget building where a lot of newer residents live initially.

    (no pool or gym here DX)

    10) Walls here are paper thin, so I totally can relate to the “no yelling”. All our neighbours talk VERY loudly, and we can hear them in all areas of the apartment.

    11) We finally decided to say “screw it” and have put pictures and stuff on the walls. The place looked too bare without decorations.

    12) Refer to #4 ;)

    So yeah, you’re definitely not weird :P

  27. Josh reply

    I totally feel your pain. If you have a backdrop stand you can hang curtains from it and use S hooks (most tent rental companies have these) and fishing line to create a completely freestanding gallery/accent wall. If you don’t have a stand two light poles, a dowel rod and some drawer pulls will take care of it. Just tuck the base of the light poles behind a piece of furniture.

  28. Kelly reply

    Ha your observations are on point! you are not a lone! I moved into an apartment in the middle of a really old, really nice (the president of HGTV lives here so the yards are drool worthy) neighborhood and yes the lights! When my mother stays she has to throw blackout blankets on the windows in order to sleep, I’ve just adjusted to it. And yes the noise. I’m currently single so I only worry about my early am dance parties bothering the neighbors, but so far haven’t gotten any complaints and its been almost a year. And with that being said, I still haven’t hung any curtains. I wasn’t sure if I’d be here one or to years, but now I’ve got the decorating itch and am ready to hang all the things! Hope your apartment time is sweet. :)

  29. Jen reply

    From someone who lived in 9 apartments in 10 years in 2 states with her husband before building their dream home: DECORATE THAT SUCKER. Even if you’re only there for two months- I think this might be a girl vs. boy thing, but we were ALWAYS happier with each other and so much more cozy with a painted living room and photos on the walls!

  30. Ali Mack reply

    If you do end up getting black out curtains, I HIGHLY recommend testing them out in the store before you bring them home. I’ve bought 3 sets of supposedly black out curtains and only one set works really well. So yeah, I’m that person who wraps herself up in the curtains hanging in Bed, Bath, and Beyond to see if they actually “black out” the light. So worth it though.

  31. Annie reply

    Katelyn, you are my lady! I completely relate — my husband and I relocated from Maryland to the Greater Louisville area and are renting a townhouse for our family of three little boys! Every day is an adventure in community living. I do find that the street lamps at night are bright as dawn, even with blackout curtains. I think the hardest thing is that we’re not permitted to nail anything up, so we have no art work on our walls — torture! And we, too, have older cars. :-) Thanks so much for sharing your experiences… you are not alone! <3

  32. Jacinthe Soulard reply

    Apartment living isn’t always the most fun or exciting. ;) But it does teach some good lessons! Anyways, I hadn’t read about your home story in a long while, I just caught up with it, and WOW! I’m blown away, and SO happy & thankful to God for what He’s done for you guys over the past couple years! That is amazing. I’m so so excited to follow on the house building process!!!

  33. Mandy reply

    Based off of that picture and the trash valet- I’m pretty sure my husband and I lived in the same apartment complex you’re referencing- we loved it! But maybe listen to your husband about not hanging curtains…my poor hubby was hanging a curtain rod in our bedroom per my request and our apartment flooded! Turns out where curtain rods should go is also where the sprinkler system is located. So beware! :) Enjoy the pool and the gym- they’re so nice there!

  34. Dawn reply

    First things first…Michael, it’s really okay to hang stuff on the walls. Apartments factor in that you will likely want to hang some stuff up. A few nail holes is no big deal.

    I lived in tons of apartments and there is almost always a neighbor with some potent kitchen habits. The bright street lamps do suck, but they help keep the neighborhood safe, so I always had a set of the block out curtains to hang in any bedrooms were people sleep and they make a big difference.

    I live in an old farmhouse on an acre in Texas now and I find myself pining for apartment living sometimes…usually when I am doing yard work

    Hang in there and enjoy the pool!

  35. Brittany reply

    Oh my goodness! I totally understand! Not being able to just open the door and let my pup out was my biggest pet peeve of apartment living. And 3 cheers for basic cars!!! I sometimes look wistfully at the nice cars around me, but I’m quickly reminded that I do not have a car payment and suddenly those leather interiors are not so appealing! :) <3

  36. Barbara reply

    #4!! The struggle is real!

    Also, yes, you want to make it cozy and you can do this without a ton of nails being put in the wall.

    I loved the apartments I lived in when I was first out of college. You will love making it cute and livable (so sorry about the garlic, though!!!)

  37. jenn reply

    I relate to ALL of them! Kevin and I are saving up for our home and we’ve been in this apartment for almost 2 years now. I am glad #3 is not just my problem, it is definitely harder! And #10, take a walk in the neighbourhood. Walk and hold hands talking it out, it’s amazing to see how our relationship has grown from taking the 15-20 minutes walk to sort things out ( without worry about raising our voices, we keep moving so it’s not like the same neighbour hears the whole convo ;)). #11, just like others said, 3M is the answer!

  38. Diane reply

    Don’t worry, you are completely normal! I lived with my boyfriend (now-husband) in an apartment for a year and all those above things you mentioned, we went through the very same things. Although, sometimes during arguments, we did yell but it wasn’t often. We didn’t hang drapes but we did hang picture frames. Our tiny 700 sq ft apartment was never ‘clean’! You literally walk in and it’s a mess. There isn’t anything you can do about it, but learn to live with it.

  39. Meagan Freiwald reply

    Loved this! Oh how #10-12 remind me of every place Erik and I have lived together. (You know your neighbors are too close when you hear a random voice calmly say “be quiet” during an argument! Yipes!) And amen to downsizing! I am so grateful for the limited square footage Erik and I have shared because it only makes the next phase that much better. Our latest, PRIVATE 200 sq ft feels enormous ;) You will miss each other once your house is done!

  40. Rachel reply

    I just came across your blog / website and saw this post immediately, also being an apartment dweller. I live by myself, so there’s a few things I can’t relate to, but otherwise your observations are SPOT ON! I just have to tell myself that this is temporary and someday I’ll be in my own home at the right time and when God allows! Hopefully out of debt at the same time as well :-)

Reply to: