As I sit in the backyard working on a story, I look around at the mowed grass and pretty flowers and smile. I also think, “Thank goodness, I don’t have to do any of this!” No, I didn’t hire anyone, per se. I live in a Townhouse Community.
My husband and I are apartment people. We grew up in the Bronx, where we both lived in buildings. When we got married, we moved to Hartsdale and lived in apartments there as well. First, in a one-bedroom, and then we moved into a two-bedroom as the idea of having children entered our thoughts.
First, our son was born, and we were still living comfortably. But when our daughter was born a few years later, it resulted in our family of four living in a two-bedroom apartment. We put up a temporary wall to make a small room for my daughter off of the kitchen. This could not be a forever fix, as we were quickly outgrowing this apartment. It was only a matter of time until we looked for a bigger place to live.
We loved Hartsdale, but finding anything we could afford was challenging. We knew we’d need to look further north to find something in our price range. And then the decision of a house versus an apartment? As city kids, we do not know the first thing about living in a house. Sure, we could figure it out, but we weren’t even sure we wanted to. We decided to look for a townhouse. It seemed like the best of both worlds, and we settled on one in the town of Mount Kisco.
For many reasons, townhouse living was exactly what we were looking for, and we haven’t been let down yet.
1. In a townhouse, the general rule is that the owner is responsible for everything within the four walls. Still, the homeowners association handles the maintenance of the outside of the house and the complex’s common areas. Less “self-maintenance” – meaning that others are responsible for many of the items that single-family homeowners handle. As working parents, and with one who travels for work often, the less work on the house, the better.
2. Time is money. The weekends are short enough without having to spend half of it in Home Depot. The sense from my friends and family who own single-family homes is that there is always something to do.
3. No need to purchase pricey equipment for raking leaves, mowing the lawn, snow blowing, tree trimming, and/or pool maintenance (and more!). And of course, there’s the time associated with doing the deeds.
4. Who doesn’t love blooming flowers and beautiful plants? It’s made even more appealing when you don’t have to do the landscaping and planting! But if you love it, you can certainly still do some. I do not take good care of plants. I don’t. Some folks love it. Some have that green thumb. I do not! Besides me, there are only three living things in my house; my husband, son, and daughter.
5. A spacious back yard. Sure, it’s a shared space, but there’s enough for everyone, and we’ve been blessed with wonderful neighbors/friends. I equate it to a local park or a beach. You’re sharing the space, but you don’t necessarily need to “play” together. (And did I mention that someone else maintains it?).
6. Many townhouse communities offer amenities on the property. Ours has a pool, basketball courts, and tennis courts. Others offer a lot more – a playground, a gym, and a recreation room, among others. Enjoy the amenities without the time, upkeep, and knowledge of how to do so.
7. It brings about a built-in community, and you can always find someone available and willing to help. There is one school bus stop for the complex, so if you’re running late, there is a slew of neighbors who can grab your kids in a pinch. No child left behind!
8. Similarly, there’s the “instant-play date,” as I like to call it. Open up your doors, and there are often kids galore for your own children to hang out with. And often, you’ll also find an adult or two for sharing a “beverage” with.
9. Safety in numbers. The houses are in close proximity, and if there’s something fishy going on, someone will likely notice it. For this city girl who is used to apartment living and having people ever-present, this is a comforting feeling.
10. Those shared walls can even raise awareness of issues in your own home, which you weren’t aware of – like a leaky roof or potential gas leak, for example.
We pay a maintenance fee for all of the above, but it’s well worth it for our lifestyle. A little lazy, a little content, a lot more living and working for our family, instead of living and working for our house.
Of course, it’s not perfect, but in reality, what is? There are some cons too, and understandably, townhouse living is not for everyone. Dealing with management companies can be tricky (or annoying). Each townhouse complex has its own policies and regulations. Parking isn’t perfect in our complex, and there’s a little more politics than I care for, but we’ll take the good with the “less good.”
Again, as we come from the apartment building environment, the items that a townhouse community offers are right up our alley. We still feel like grown-ups – but not “too grown up!” – so if you’re considering home-ownership but aren’t up for all that entails, give townhouse living some thought.