Friday, March 31, 2017

Navigating Shared Living Space

Living in a condo, high rise, or townhouse development means living in close proximity to many different people.  This can, of course, be a wonderful experience; as this kind of density allows you to continuously meet new people and become part of a strong and neighbourly community.  However, living so close to so many people also means that you need to know how to manage and respect your shared living space, and how to navigate the community in which you live.  Here are a few things to keep in mind if you find yourself struggling to understand the written and unwritten rules of the fitness rooms, pools, and elevators of your building.

Know your Community
The first step towards respectfully engaging with your living community, and its shared areas, is to understand the kind of culture your building has.  Different buildings have different vibes.  There are some buildings where people really want to keep to themselves, and there are others where neighbours routinely knock on each other’s doors.  By following the tone set by the building’s community you’ll find it much easier to establish your own space within that community.

Hallways, Elevators, Lobbies, and Common Rooms
Public spaces, like hallways, elevators, lobbies, and common rooms, are the main arteries of your building, so it is crucial that you remain courteous and respectful in these spaces.  This means, holding elevator doors, keeping voices down in hallways, picking up after yourself in the lobby, and adhering to the rules and regulations of common rooms.  When booking or reserving a common area, like a party room or a garden terrace, be sure to verify the rules governing its use.  You want to make sure that you clean up after yourself, keep the noise down to accepted and agreed upon levels, and ensure that you clear out on time.

Fitness Areas and Pools
If you happen to have these wonderful assets in your building you already understand how important it is to keep them clean and functioning, and how off-putting it can be when a fellow resident does not.  Again, your guide to these spaces are the rules the building has laid out, but generally speaking remember to clean up after yourself—this includes returning fitness gear to its rightful place and wiping equipment when you are finished with it—to respect others in the room if you are playing music or watching TV, and to respect and abide by the hours of operation.  It is even more important to follow rules surrounding pool or sauna use, because of issues surrounding safety and hygiene.  Remember to keep these areas clean, to take any towels or other personal effects with you, and to respect people’s privacy. 

It can be a challenge sometimes to live among so many people, but if you can remain conscientious of public space, and maintain a kind and respectful relationship with your neighbours you will find that these communities really make living in a dense area or city worthwhile.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

How to Host a Party in Your Apartment

Hosting family and friends in your apartment or condo can be a bit of a challenge.  Issues of space and worries over planning can often act as barriers to you opening your doors to your favourite people.  However, it is important to have people at your house—no matter the size.  Hosting friends and family solidifies important bonds and allows people to see who you really are.  Here are a few guidelines to help you have great and stress-free social gatherings.

Keep it Simple
A lot of hosts burn themselves out by trying to provide everything for their guests.  This can often mean running around for days to various shops and spending way too much money.  Instead, simplify your vision, and remember that less is more.  Your guests want to see you, and not gorge themselves, so a nice but modest array of food and a few drink options is more than enough.  Your party is a reflection of who you are, so prepare one or two things that represent you, and don’t get caught up in trying to offer everything under the sun.

Party Plan
By re-arranging your furniture and re-envisioning your apartment you can better orchestrate how your guests use your space, and better accommodate them as a result.   For instance, you can repurpose rooms, like a bedroom or office, as alternate gathering spaces, so as not to cram everyone into your living room or kitchen.  By shifting a bed out of the way or converting it into a couch, by converting a desk into a buffet, or by placing appetizer, sweets, or drink trays in out of the way places, like end tables, halls or foyers, you can create a sense of flow and movement to your limited space.  If you have a deck, patio, or garden, fold that space into your party as well, by setting up seating and placing food or drink outside.

Enjoy Yourself
There is nothing worse than missing your party because you have spent the whole time slaving away in the kitchen.  To avoid this, prepare as much as you can beforehand, or go for food options that require little to no preparation time.  Boards of chopped vegetables with humus and dips are quick and easy, as are cheese and charcuterie boards served with crackers or sliced baguette.  If you want to include something warm, samosas, or dumplings, or spring rolls from your favourite takeaway can be picked up the day before, and then quickly reheated in the oven for serving; or, find an easy slow cooker recipe—like a vegetarian chili, or a nice pulled pork—that can slowly cook and then stay warm while you enjoy hosting.
Hosting is wonderful, and need not be overwhelming.  By keeping things simple, and focussing on you and your guests’ enjoyment you can have a great party without all the headaches.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Condo Kids: How to Truly Embrace Parenting in Apartments

For those of us who grew up in suburbs and small towns, the prospect of bringing up our kids in downtown condos and apartments seems a little daunting.  When you think of the garages and driveways, basements, and backyards of your youth it is hard to imagine having kids without this ample play and storage space.  Also, the busy and bustling downtown streets seem out of step with cumbersome strollers and bumbling toddlers.  However, more and more people these days are forgoing space for convenience and quality of life.  Living in a smaller downtown unit might mean less space, but it also means less time commuting, and more time with your kids.  That said there are a few challenges to overcome as an apartment parent, so here are a few things to keep in mind.

Managing Kids in a Small Space
Between diapers and high chairs, clothes and toys, strollers and tricycles, kids can take up a lot of room.  If you’re living in a condo or an apartment you flat out don’t have the space for all of this stuff.  However, this is an opportunity more than a crisis.  Confined space forces you to make wiser purchases, and to avoid any hoarding tendencies you may be harbouring!  By keeping only what your children need at any given moment—and this changes frequently as they develop—and by stowing what they do need with some smart storage solutions, you can embrace a more downsized style of parenting that frees you up to do things with your kids, without being overburdened by stuff.

Respect Your Neighbours
Your kids are wonderful; however, not everyone feels that way.  The smaller, shared spaces that come with apartment and condo living puts an added urgency upon teaching your kids to be quiet and respectful of their neighbours and of their shared space.  It might be a challenge at first to keep your kids from running and shouting in halls and elevators, or running wild in common areas, like lobbies, pools, and fitness rooms, but if you can show your kids the value of being respectful to those they live among, the whole building will smile on them, and they’ll learn some great lessons in community living at an early age.

Embrace Your Downtown Density
One big advantage to living downtown is the multiplicity of people and cultures you experience.  It might seem like the high-density neighbourhood you are living in is better suited to twenty-somethings than to five year olds, but raising kids downtown opens their eyes to so many different ways of living, and truly broadens their horizons.  High-density living ensures that music, arts, culture, and cuisine are all steps from your living space.  This allows you and your family to think of the city as an extension of your apartment.  Walk to the park on Saturdays, to the markets on Sundays, check out free weeknight events, and have your pick of restaurants and cafes.