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Raising 5 kids in 1 flat – how one Dad makes it work


Imagine cramming 5 kids in a small apartment. 

A triple bunk Adrian Crook created from Ikea bunks to accommodate three boys in one bedroom. Picture: Adrian Crook

You can read Bahasa Malaysia version here

Australian families are known for living in some of the biggest houses in the world, with multiple living spaces and ‘one kid per room’ considered the new norm.

So imagine cramming five children into one apartment.

Canadian video game designer Adrian Crook has lived with his five children in a three-bedroom condo in downtown Vancouver since 2013 and blogs about his experiences at 5 Kids 1 Condo.

Crook decided to downsize his life and live more minimally – he explains why and how he does it:

When and why did you start living this way?

Living simply gives me more time and money for the things that matter. Also, living downtown lets us access loads of cultural amenities, all without a car.

We’ve been in this condo since 2013 and have no plans to leave.

See how this designer designed a fun and kid-friendly home

What ages are your kids?

The kids are 10, 9, 8, 7 and 5. They are with me half the month and with their mom the other half.

Can you describe how you’ve configured your condo?

The condo is pretty ideally laid out, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms as well as a storage room that we use as an art room.

Adrian has adapted his three-bedroom condo to accommodate his large family. Picture: Adrian Crook

How do you make it work? Did you need to renovate?

We haven’t renovated the condo, but have added a couple small tweaks – like a customized front closet to make it resemble an elementary school coatroom – all in the name of making the place work better for our large family.

Did you need any special furniture to make it work?

The boys’ room has a triple bunk that we created by combining two IKEA bunks in a pretty seamless way.

It wasn’t easy but it works great. My bedroom has a murphy bed that also converts into a desk, so I can work from my room when I need to. The girls’ bedroom has a bunk bed where the bottom bunk converts into a desk, giving the girls a place to do homework.

What do your kids think about it?

Kids are supremely adaptable, so I think they just roll with it. They enjoy the swimming pool in our building and love the time we get together, walking around the city.

I also love how cosy it is – we’re all connected to one another, which means we feel more in touch than we might in a larger house.

Crook’s bedroom has a murphy bed that converts to a desk. Picture: Adrian Crook

What are the hardest things about the way you live?

Right now, I don’t regard any of it as hard. I suppose some people might find not having a car hard, but the trade-off of not having to worry about everything that comes with car ownership – safety, cost, hassle – more than makes up for it.

What are the best things about the way you live?

It’s cheaper than living further out. It’s healthier than driving everywhere. It’s easier to maintain than a big house, giving me more time to spend with the kids. It’s a responsible way to live, showing my kids a more sustainable future than the two cars and a big house paradigm.

Adrian Crook. Picture: Adrian Crook

What advice would you give anyone wanting to do it?

If you’re unsure, why not AirBnB your house for a few months and AirBnB an apartment in a walkable neighbourhood?

That’s a pretty low-risk way to try out a new life. If you can get over the ego aspects of not owning a big house or cars, the resulting lifestyle is far healthier, happier, stress-free and sustainable. It may not be conventional, but it’s worth a try.

This article was originally published as Raising 5 kids in 1 flat – how one Dad makes it work by and is written by Carla Danaher.


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