Social Question

GStClaire's avatar

Why is apartment living often assiociated with less wealth?

Asked by GStClaire (22points) March 5th, 2011

That probably wasn’t worded right.
But often, reading articles and things, it seems like apartment living is associated with people who have less money and have to live in the city, instead of having a house in the country with a yard and land and everything.
Why is that? It’s often looked down upon to live in a ‘crowded’ apartment.

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26 Answers

Coloma's avatar

I don’t know if it really is. It is dependent, like everything, on ones perspective.
There are crappy apartment buildings and crappy neighborhoods and nice ones as well.

When I think of apartment living I compare it to my own experiences as a younger person living in an apartment situation. Most that live in apartments are single, younger, college age, divorced perhaps or elderly and on fixed incomes.

Lots of people prefer the containment and lack of maintainance that apt. living provides as well.

There are many very nice apartment situations and it is impossible to judge/speak for everyone and their own reasons for choosing an apartment lifestyle.

I am 51 now, divorced for 8 years and while I love my home and 5 acre property and am not looking to move to an apartment, I can see the benefits of not having all the work and upkeep of a home and property.

Apartment living and renting in general has gotten a bad rap and faulty belief system such as you have mentioned.

Home ownership is not all it’s cracked up to be and is often NOT the best investment of ones money, especially in this economy.

Seelix's avatar

I would think that it’s due to the fact that, unless you’re purchasing a condo, apartment renters pay rent monthly. In a lot of cases I’m sure it’s because they don’t have the money to put a down payment on a home, or they don’t have the credit rating to get approved for a mortgage.

crisw's avatar

@Seelix nailed it, I think. Ownership is key; the same stigmata aren’t associated with people who own units in towering downtown condos.

Plus, there is the tendency of people who don’t really own something not to take good care of it, leading to rundown appearances.

Nullo's avatar

Most apartments are rented, and renting is typically associated with an inability to purchase property outright.

Taciturnu's avatar

Anyone who lives in Manhattan would have to disagree with you.

Agreed with @Seelix and @Nullo. It’s more to do with who owns the apartment.

john65pennington's avatar

When poverty strikes in a family, the family turns to the Federal Government for assistance. This trend is powerful, since its easy money for the recipient. Once this trend is in the family, its generally carried over from generation to generation. It becomes a way of life.

Facade's avatar

I see it more as a way of saving money when it comes to renting homes in general. Owning a home is great, but what if you move a lot? And how about the taxes and insurance that comes with owning a home? I think it’s convenient to rent, and it’s definitely cheaper.

coffeenut's avatar

lol…I pay more for my apartment than people pay for their house

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

My mind has recently been changed on this subject, after watching “House Hunters International” and “Selling New York”. It’s almost sickening what some apartments rent for.

Aethelwine's avatar

I agree with you @Facade. We owned a home for 16 years and we always had a repair that was needed. Our property tax went from $400 a year in 1994 to $1800 in 2010. We couldn’t afford it! We now rent a home for less than what we were paying to own, plus we have a landlord to pay for any expense that is needed. I love it.

KateTheGreat's avatar

I live in an apartment and I do rent it out as well. But it is a lot more efficient than owning a home in my case. My landlord pays for anything and everything that needs repair and it is fully furnished. I save a lot more money this way. I can spend all my money on my tuition, my clothes, and great food rather than wasting it on a house. I’ve been to many people’s houses and I have to say that even though I don’t have as much space, my apartment is much nicer.

BarnacleBill's avatar

When you buy a house, you’re essentially renting from the bank until you pay your mortgage off. Traditionally people built up equity by owning a home, creating wealth. However, with the plunge in the housing market makes that not true. And people fail to account for the costs of home maintenance in calculating the cost of home ownership, plus interest and taxes. I know several people who rent houses, and while the downside is that the cannot remodel, the upside is that when the furnace breaks down, they’re not the ones shelling out $8,000 for a replacement. Most live far better than me, who is currently spending $3800 this spring on home maintenance projects that no one but me will really notice—tree trimming, gutters, replacing damaged siding, a few new windows.

john65pennington's avatar

GStClaire, I think I misunderstood your question. I thought it was about people living in project areas close to downtown cities.

Facade's avatar

@jonsblond Speaking of taxes: A friend of mine told me that a lot of people in the area (Princeton, NJ) pay anywhere from $10,000–15,000 a year in taxes on theirs homes. I could definitely do without that.

mrrich724's avatar

I don’t think it seems that way to everyone . . . in fact, living in the city is WAY more expensive. You can live in an apartment or loft downtown that’s 800 square feet and cost 400 grand. . . or you can live in a house ‘in the country’ and all that stuff like the land you mentioned, comes with a 2500 square foot home for the same price or less!

In many cases, monthly rent cost more than a mortgage!

DominicX's avatar

I don’t necessarily think that. There are penthouse apartments in New York that are worth millions. :P

BarnacleBill's avatar

I have taken exactly 6 vacations in the last 30 years, because every spare cent goes either to tuition for children or home repairs. In the last 30 years, I’ve spent roughly $150,000 on maintenance of a 100 year old house, and am getting ready to put another $60,000 in it over the next 3 years. I need structural work because of my neighbor’s drainage issues, new kitchen cabinets, painting a 3 story house, inside and out, a new heat pump, partial re-wiring, and water damage repair, and new carpeting or refinishing/relaying hardwood floors. None of this is fun stuff, all of it must be done to “protect” the equity. I can’t sell it unless these things are done without taking a huge loss.

Meanwhile, my friends who rent travel to different states each month for fun, and are going to Europe for an annual trip.

TexasDude's avatar

Home and property ownership is typically well… used to be, at least an investment. You buy property and a house, you build equity, your property value grows, and so on. You can’t really do that with a rented property.

Then again, this is not universally true anymore. A small part of the assumption that renters are less wealthy than owners is probably bigotry as well. And as others have mentioned, there are rented properties that are worth a boatload of money. You’d have to be very wealthy to afford renting them, but in the end, it’s the landlord who has the true wealth, in that situation.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Home ownership is ingrained into our ideal of what the “American Dream” is. In order to live the American Dream, you must own a home (and the closer it is to the traditional white picket fence ideal, the better). Thus, we assume that anyone who doesn’t own a single-family home is too poor to do so, because we can’t imagine someone disagreeing on how to achieve the American Dream or even ::gasp:: not trying to achieve the American Dream (but rather a Dream of their own making).

jerv's avatar

As others have said, it has largely to do with the fact that a person apparently cannot afford to buy their home outright.

I find it to be an odd paradox since the new American dream is to make money, so there are some people out there buying up housing solely for the purpose of renting it out and getting rich that way. Now, is there enough demand for housing that everybody can be a landlord? I think not.

Also bear in mind that if a person sells a property, they no longer have a steady income from it, and their net worth actually decreases in the long run since you can’t raise the rent on a place you no longer own, so unless the sale price is high enough to cover the loss of rent in perpetuity (including the increase in value over time) smart renters won’t sell, at least not for a price that most people can afford. While I live in a fairly decent two-bedroom apartment, I don’t think it’s worth over $250,000 to me, though it is worth far more than that to my landlord. I’ll just pay my $850/month and let him deal with the expenses of upkeep :D

marinelife's avatar

Only in this country. it is very different in Europe where many people live their whole lives in apartments.

lifeflame's avatar

And not the case in Hong Kong either, where living out in the country (yes we have village houses still!) = long commute = lifestyle choice.

Meanwhile, if you claimed to live downtown (whether own or rent) we know you’re forking over a lot of cash / are obscenely rich.

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t associate apartment living with being less affluent. If I want to buy a city apartment where I live, I will pay a lot for it and if I want one overlooking the ocean or river, I will definitely pay through the nose for it. When you look at the value in terms of land and space, apartments here aren’t necessarily good value for money.

hobbitsubculture's avatar

Like others have said, it is associated with not having the money to purchase a house. I know I don’t have the money to purchase a house. On the other hand, you are also paying for someone else to have responsibility for the building.

I also don’t get why apartments are associated with cities. There are plenty of apartments in the country. It isn’t as though it’s a rare find to get an apartment in a small town.

perspicacious's avatar

I didn’t know it was. I have never lived in an apartment; I’ve always owned my home. I have just in the last two weeks rented an apartment in another state for a year as a second home.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@hobbitsubculture Because in the cities, you don’t really have a choice. There are apartments elsewhere, but only in the city do multi-millionaires still have to live apartments (well, condos – but still).

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