Margaret Reynolds, LCPC, NCC

Just like some romantic relationships, it is possible to “fall in love” with a house, apartment or living arrangement that may result in regret and an unhealthy situation later. Whether getting your first apartment by yourself, moving in with a partner or out after a divorce, or getting a bigger place to accommodate a growing family, at some point, most people will experience the joys and pitfalls of house or apartment hunting. This type of life event can create stress and exacerbate mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. The following questions are worth exploring on your own, with your family or partner or with a therapist to ensure that you are addressing housing and environmental issues that may impact you in deep and personal ways.

  • What are my personal and professional goals for the time I intend to be in the space and can the space accommodate those goals?
    Goals might include: writing a book, starting a work-from-home career, building up my circle of friends through entertaining guests, healing after trauma or injury, taking the next steps in a relationship by moving in with my partner, starting a family, or fostering animals.
  • How will the place support or hinder my hobbies or self-care routines?
    Hobbies and self-care routines might include: taking a bath at night, enjoying the view with morning coffee, doing yoga or exercise, watching sports or television, or having a dedicated crafting or meditation space.
  • What kinds of relationships might I make and have to maintain to live here?
    Important relationships might include: the property manager or owner, possible roommates, neighbors, local vendors and business owners, local politicians and community board members.
  • What resources and challenges do the community and location offer me?
    Possible resources include: shopping and retail, dining and entertainment, libraries, schools, places of worship, community centers, parks and recreation centers, places to access public transportation, emergency services, available parking, biking and walking trails, proximity to my work location, proximity to family and friends.
  • How do the features and layout of the space impact my mood and energy?
    Features and layout issues might include: division and flow of spaces, quality and amount of natural light, storage and display options for stuff, heating/air-conditioning type and control, and possible noise issues from inside or outside home.
  • What ways does the place promote or conflict with my needs, values and priorities?
    Needs, values, and priorities might include: integrated design to accommodate a personal with disabilities, separation of space to facilitate harmonious intergenerational living, living with pets or service animals, space adequate for home-based business or homeschooling, space to create art or music, space for entertaining or hosting guests, garden or outdoor space, need for privacy or security features.
  • What will I have to do to maximize functionality and clean/maintain this space?
    Possible considerations include: type and age of construction, type of appliances, tenant vs. owner responsibilities, furniture needs and layout, electrical and plumbing fixtures and issues, outdoor spaces.

Like relationships, homes and apartments serve various purposes at various times in our lives. Your home can be a place of refuge after trauma, a place to grow and develop, simply a place to sleep/eat/shower, and a place to play and connect. Your home will certainly impact your mental health because it so often affects your relationships with yourself, with your possessions, with your roommates or family, with neighbors and with your community.

If you would like to speak with a therapist about any of these relationships or about past or future life events of moving, you can contact a trained and experienced mental health clinician at 312-578-9990.