Ultimately, garden-level living is not for everyone, and your greatest decision on the subject should also be your first: Will you enjoy living in this space? Is access to the nightlife and entertainment nearby worth it? Can you handle the nonstop foot traffic going past and the sounds of your neighbors?
It isn't enough to be willing to deal with it. You must be attracted to the idea -- after all, you'll be living your life within that often small, usually less well-lit space. Without a healthy respect for the bustle and vitality of urban life, which will be taking place practically in your living room, you may find yourself overwhelmed and cramped, no matter how much you enjoy imagining the situation in theory.
Once you've decided on a garden-level home, it's time to accentuate the positive and eliminate as much of the negative as possible. Make sure you have a landline, as cell phone reception in garden levels is notoriously bad. On the other hand, the insulation effects of your surroundings mean that you'll be warmer in winter and cooler in summer than your neighbors. Brainstorm ways to bring in light and color without inviting in the more dangerous aspects of urban life. Get a sense of your neighbors, because they'll be a larger part of your life than you might anticipate. Look at urban-living blogs for creative decorating ideas to make the most of your space, and use your outdoor access to bring as much of the outdoors inside as possible.
Interior design and use of space are largely about making your home somewhere you actually want to spend time, and that's even more important to consider with a garden-level apartment. Your home should be an oasis, as comforting as it is exciting. The key to creating a life at street level is balancing public and private space in whatever way suits you best. You've chosen a certain kind of adventure, but every adventure means risking burnout, too, so keep your own comfort in mind.
If you're invigorated by the excitement of urban living, then a garden-level apartment might be the right choice for you. Just make sure to keep a little bit of room for yourself. And good luck!
For links to more great information, click to the next page.
- Apartment Ratings. "Comparing a Studio and a One-Bedroom Apartment." Feb. 24, 2010. (March 22, 2011) http://ohmyapt.apartmentratings.com/comparing-a-studio-and-a-one-bedroom-apartment.html
- Better Homes and Gardens. "Making Small Rooms Seem Big." (March 22, 2011) http://www.bhgrealestate.com/views/live/makeover.aspx?id=170
- Georgia Alliance of Preservation Commissions. "Frequently Asked Questions about Local Historic Districts." University of Georgia. (March 22, 2011) http://www.uga.edu/gapc/links_doc_pdf/FAQs%20about%20local%20districts.pdf
- Simmons, Daniel P., III. "This Old Studio Apartment." This Old House. (March 22, 2011) http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,1629897,00.html
- Yee, Sue. "Efficiency Apartments." HousingInfo.com. April 28, 2007. (March 22, 2011) http://www.housinginfo.com/efficiency-apartments/