Author: Mike Haines Date Posted:20 March 2018
When we first moved to Australia from the UK in 2000 we loved the idea of a big block, although - our idea of a big block was a little different than the locals. I recall a conversation with a sales guy in the local mower shop who started to show me these gigantic ride on mowers after I told him we had a 'huge block'.
Huge to him was 200 acres + and his eyes lit up, until he suddenly realised I was a new POM in town with a completely different perspective on space. He quickly realised a $400 push mower would do the trick.
To me 1/2 an acre was gargantuan - but I'm pretty perceptive so I quickly got on board.
We settled in the Hinterland of the sunny coast, which was great for us when the kids were young. Lots of space, big pool and entertaining areas. We even had our own mini rain forest in a B&B property that we used to own in Glass House. But, as the kids grew the space became, well - unneeded and frankly a burden. Mowing, even with a ride on, became a chore and it was a killer in the heat of the summer. Don't even mention whipper snipping :-(
We knew we were ready for a change and we took advantage of a chance to rent out our hinterland property for 12 months when we saw an apartment for rent on the coast, right down the bottom of Pelican Waters at what used to be the Crown Plaza. It was a great first apartment to live in for 6 months but to get to it there was a monotonous daily drive that involved 11 roundabouts. I dreaded it and to get the most from the 12 months experience we moved to a different place in Birtinya for the final 6 months.
The 12 months passed and we moved back to our Hinterland property with a whole stack of knowledge and experience of apartment living - which we used several years later - to pick a great spot in Kings Beach.
So - here is a summary of the things we learnt during the 12 months we lived in sunny coast apartments and since late 2017 here in Kings Beach....
1- Noise and Privacy...
the hinterland was full of little insects - but they made very little noise. The odd burn out in the distant night was really the extent of the noise disturbance. Apartment living can be very different. Pools, cars, concerts, people, the sea - they all make noise and if you are in the middle of a holiday destination then you can expect lots of it!
To try and assess the implications of noise in the area I had a good look around first. I checked out the area at different times of day and night. As far as the location within a complex, pools naturally attract people and often boom boxes!
If there are people living above you make sure you check out the thickness of the floor. Thick cement can dampen the noise people make when they drag chairs across floors.
Don't forget the wind too! Real Estate sales people will talk to you about the through sea breezes but will fail to tell you that large glass windows and doors have a terrible habit of buffeting in even low windy conditions and could keep you awake at night. Apartments on corners of buildings we found are the worst.
I 'bumped into' a few residents prior to buying our apartment here in Kings Beach and found out that they had been living in the area for 17 years and knew it was a very quiet location. If you can strike up a conversation with people in the locality somehow they can often give you the inside scoop. You'll often ride in the lift with a resident on an open day - you can get lots of info in a short ride in a lift. We did.
2 - Shape...
the best aspect of our current apartment is it's overall shape. To give front aspect and sea views to as many occupants as possible lots of blocks have long thin apartments to give both properties views to as many residences as possible at the front. Thin shaped spaces just don’t work for us and emphasised the fact that the space you are in is an apartment, not a house.
Our apartment is a big oblong, well, almost a square, so it feels just like a normal house.
3 - Body Corporate & Onsite Management...
Living in close proximity to other people often means rules, and some body corporate and local on site Management can get intoxicated with the power their positions give them.
Often they will communicate with you via letter and over the years wevé received letters that are simply insulting and have been written by amateurs, and then professional communications written by considerate people with respect for others.
We were fortunate that one of our regular customers had resided in the complex we currently live in and we had delivered to him for over 4 years here. I called him before we purchased and he said all the right things. I also looked up on Trip Advisor reviews and gained a very favourable overall impression of the place we now call home.
4 – Renovations and Alterations
If you move into an older style building and want to carry out renos then be wary.
It can often be quite difficult getting things just the way you want them. There are often standards you have to abide by (we would have loved shutters on our veranda but it didn’t happen).
Things like installing fans into spaces where there is no existing power can become very tricky. We gave up after the sparky advised us he’d have to obtain an engineers report before he could start carving a conduit in our ceiling!
Renovations also produce lots of noise and rubbish that has to be moved via lifts if you are on anything other than the ground floor. This can prove difficult and consideration has to be given to your neighbours who will have to put up with the noise for the duration of the works.
Having gotten used to being able to do almost just what we wanted when we wanted to do it in terms of renovations we found apartment living a bit on the restrictive side.
Moral of the story – buy new (maybe??)
Here then is a summary….of the Good Bad and Ugly aspects of apartment living….
What we miss about living in a standard house…
- The freedom to renovate easily
- Space to accommodate and entertain lots of people
- Some lower living costs (no body corp fees)
What we DON’T miss about living in a standard house…
- Mowing. Yard work.
- Cleaning lots of space.
- Pool and Spa maintenance
- The time it took to do all of the above
- Painting and decorating (externally)
- Occasional feelings of insecurity
Apartment Living Pros
- It’s so easy and you have so much time to do the stuff you want to
- Proximity to local beach walks and coffee shops
- Lower power bills
- 100% feeling of security.
Apartment Living Cons
- Body Corporate Fees
- Loss of privacy (to a small degree)
- Noise (during tourist times and the Caloundra Music Festival – which does drag on a bit when you are right on top of it)
- Rubbish removal – we seem to be forever carting rubbish down 3 levels (if you can find an apartment with a rubbish chute it’s a bonus)
- Unlike houses, many apartments don’t have a ‘back door’ which results in a lack of through breezes.
Having lived in an apartment we would'nt go back to a normal house. We just have no need for the space and all the effort that goes with it.
My best tip is to tap into the locals before you commit, research the area, when you are inspecting - always carry a check list of the things that are important to you and take lots of photos!
Please - add your own comments to this blog to help others pick a great location to live in.
Mike and Dawn emigrated into the Sunshine Coast area from the UK in 2000. They lived in several properties in Glass House Mountains before moving to Kings Beach - where they now live in a small 2nd level apartment.