Apartment living

The new year is a time to reflect on the past, and on the changes we want or need to make in our lives. Sometimes it’s a time to review our decisions and, where they haven’t been successful, to resolve to make changes or to do better.

One decision I made in recent years, has now survived several years of scrutiny and reflection, and continues to look good both in hindsight and moving forward.

It was the decision I made as a mother of two young children, to move from a house on a traditional quarter acre block to an apartment in a more urban area.

Even as the years go by, I remain astonished at the reaction of some people – who usually don’t know me – upon hearing I have moved with a young family, from a house to an apartment. These people are often amazed, as they assume that an apartment must be a “dog-box” with no access to open spaces for children to play.

Apartments are still seen by many as homes only for the young and unattached, or the elderly and no longer attached, but our home offers everything we need as a family. It is spacious, secure, comfortable and within walking distance to shops and other amenities. I also enjoy enormously the sense of community that comes with living in close proximity to some really great neighbours. And, perhaps best still, we now as a family spend far more time outside riding bikes or visiting Canberra’s parks than we ever did before. It offers, for us, a more carefree life.

Apartment living doesn’t suit everyone, but it does suit me. I would never attempt to prescribe it to others. I believe the ACT can and should provide living options for all tastes and budgets. We should be offering a range of choices in accommodation for all our citizens, including apartments, townhouses and affordable student accommodation right through to grander homes that some aspire to and can afford.

There’s still more to be done to provide homes that suit all our citizens, with a range of design configurations and features, in a range of locations and prices. Infill development enhances the range of choices for home seekers in Canberra. It also finds a positive and important use for suitable urban sites which would otherwise sit idle, often located close to wonderful parks and amenities. It's time we consider all the different lifestyle alternatives for Canberrans.

Catherine Carter is ACT Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia