Apartment Life in Chattanooga


Apartment Life in Chattanooga

Switching to apartment life is no small feat with small feet.

I’m the lucky mother of a three-year-old and a four-year-old. They were two and three when we moved halfway across the country from Spearfish, South Dakota to Chattanooga, Tennessee. We packed up what we had and drove 24 hours straight to get here. In all fairness we packed what we had left because we sold A LOT of our belongings. We stuffed everything in a small trailer, and moved from a four bedroom, two bath, 1700 plus square foot home we owned to the two bedroom, 1.5 bathroom, 900ish square foot apartment we now rent. We had two weeks to get it all done, from the time our house was listed and sold the following day. That short time was chaos!

After making attempts to figure out buying a home in a place we had never been, with my husband having a job lined up but not having any pay stubs, we realized that renting until we felt comfortable and less stressed by our home-buying options was a better option. Rent isn’t any more unreasonable in Chattanooga than places we had lived in Midwest, but to save money we opted to rent an apartment instead of a house. It’s almost a year later and we’ve had to consider our options as time to renew our lease crept closer. In the end, we decided on leasing another apartment.

Call me crazy, but it’s not a bad way to live.

I am enjoying apartment life. Yes, small space living with small people can get loud, stinky, and crazy, but luckily we live in Chattanooga. Our wonderful new home city has an amazing climate that encourages us to get outside year round. Coming from South Dakota, and as a Nebraska native, I laugh when people complain about the cold during the winter. With absolutely no shortage of parks and plenty of indoor activities, we are never lacking in things to do. We spend a lot of time out of the house. There are also so many amazing places to grab a coffee, kid friendly places to eat (make sure to check out our list of places where kids eat free), or have a picnic. We can stretch our outdoor time to nap time and then spend some time inhaling the sweet Southern air. I believe this has turned me into a better parent, as I take my kids out for adventures and experiences almost every day.

Apartment living has given me an opportunity to show my children the value of experiences over material belongings.

With little space toys get in the way. We all know the true test of parenting is stepping on a Lego in the middle of the night, right? In 900ish square feet there’s a good chance toy landmines are everywhere. You might use your mom voice to tell your kids to pick up their toys and vow they won’t get anymore until you move. If you actually want to stick to that promise you might ask family for experience gifts rather than material things. We are fortunate to have generous grandparents who understand and accept this. We were gifted a membership to the Tennessee Aquarium and the kids’ swimming lessons are paid for this year. It works out very well and allows our kids to connect with their grandparents who live far away through experiences. Check out this post on the different memberships to attractions in Chattanooga, then keep your eyes and ears peeled for deals. A lot of memberships are offered at discounted prices. If you don’t get a membership, there are often events offering free or discounted admittance for a day to attractions like the Chattanooga Zoo (speaking of the zoo, take a look at Chattanooga Moms Blog’s next event). The Creative Discovery Museum has a free family night the first Thursday evening of every month as well.

A lot of people dream of keeping it simple.

Apartment life has shed a good amount of light on simple living. After selling most of our stuff, we began replacing things once we got here. The first things we bought were a washer and dryer. I strongly suggest seeking an apartment with hookups for these. I have yet to see an apartment complex that doesn’t have a laundry facility, but let’s face it: I’m lazy and it was a need for me. We purchased small simple furniture and we enjoy our family screen time on the couch snuggled together. We eat meals at a table with seating for four and we squeeze our beloved guests in comfortably on a small piano bench I bought second hand. It has taught me well what is needed to live comfortably and what is not. The number of things we have has greatly diminished and this means less clutter and stress.

Let’s talk about the biggest and best perks to a small rented home.

It takes me one day a week to deep clean the entire apartment, which means I have more time to spend with my family. In our last home I had to clean every day to keep up. With our smaller rented space we have fewer utilities to cover and the bills are lower. Some apartments even offer free cable or WiFi. This means a little extra spending money, which leads back to experiences you can easily afford. There is no lawn to mow. There is no maintenance to be done or pay for. Let’s face it: there isn’t a long-term commitment. So while my kids share a room now, next year we can get a three bedroom apartment because my son started asking for his own room.

All in all, life is simple and enjoyable.

There are some drawbacks of course, but I’m feeling grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow as a parent and a person. Life seems richer in our tiny living space. We definitely appreciate things that much more. We value each other, the things we know are the best choice for us (think filling your standard fridge with fuel food instead of feel food), and our time out of the house living life to the fullest. It all seems just that much sweeter. On that note, we did upgrade to just a little more square footage for our next leasing term. I have my limits and will enjoy my full master bath.

For us life is so much better kept simple and most importantly my family fits well nestled in our small living space full of small feet.


  1. We enjoyed apartment living with our first two for 5 years. There is another factor to keep in mind that was a little shocking. When we went to buy a house we could not imagine how peers making the same could afford a house. Not a fancy or big house just one in an area with pretty good schools and not tons and tons of repairs.

    We discovered that while we were in the apartment for 5 years, they had built $30K of home equity, and another $30K of increased home value. Without the equity, our payment was also $100/mo higher than the loan because we had to pay pmi as well as a downpayment

    I just wanted to share so someome else wasn’t as shocked as we were. We felt like we were getting ahead not having repairs and leaving in our tiny apartment.

  2. This is true. Finding ways to save are important if home buying is something you want to see in your future. Thank you for adding that incite. Home ownership does take a lot of saving and planning in almost any situation. As a previous home owner I totally understand this. With the housing shortage here in Chattanooga the market is a little overwhelming for buyers. Thank you for commenting and I hope you find your forever home soon.

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