The benefits of low-rise living

26 April 2022

Low-rise living suits people of all ages, but it’s especially beneficial for the over 55s

In the decades after the Second World War, there was a marked shift away from the construction of houses and bungalows towards more land-efficient and cost-effective high-rise buildings. Then in the 1970s, the tide turned back and residential construction in the UK reverted back to two-storey houses and low-rise apartment blocks. By the Millennium, towers were dominating regeneration schemes everywhere from Partick to Granton, yet today we’re seeing another renaissance in low-rise architecture.

While high-rise apartment blocks undoubtedly have their merits, low-rise living is a more universally appealing prospect. Whether you’re buying a ground-floor retirement flat or an end-terraced villa, there are various advantages to living at (or close to) ground level – starting with something which becomes increasingly valuable as you get older…


High-rise living involves a degree of dependence on communal facilities such as lifts. This can cause accessibility issues if mechanical faults arise or there’s a power cut, while the pandemic has made us more wary of sharing confined spaces with strangers. Having direct external access (or via a limited number of stairs) can be easier when it comes to bringing shopping in, welcoming visitors and suchlike. Ground floor homes are also inherently wheelchair-friendly, which is useful not just for older residents but potential visitors, too.


If you’re not green-fingered, a property set in landscaped communal grounds offers the best way to enjoy nature without responsibility for maintenance. However, if you love pottering around in a garden, low-rise homes tend to offer outside space for planting and growing. When buying a new home, it’s often possible to choose a preferred plot orientation – an east-facing back garden for early risers, a south-facing one for keen amateur gardeners, and so forth.


If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to experience a burglary, you’ll understand the need to feel safe and secure at home. A home’s safety is materially affected by its architecture, and this is an area where low-rise new-builds excel. Every Juniper property comes with wireless intruder alarms, while our cottage flats also receive video entry systems. Dedicated development managers can assist with issues like emergency lock replacement if your keys get lost, and all our homes are certified as Secured by Design.


In large residential blocks, the sheer number of people coming and going makes it hard to track unwelcome visitors, whereas a private front garden is clearly off-limits to anyone other than residents and guests. Low-rise apartment blocks and streets of bungalows/houses foster a sense of community with neighbours looking out for each other, which is hard to replicate in taller buildings. Being able to chat over a fence or across a balcony is an enduring pleasure, but high-rise properties often lack terraces and patios for safety reasons.


Concerns over cladding have damaged the resale value of some high-rise flats, while the prices of other property styles have continued to climb. Residents of one, two and three-storey buildings don’t need to worry about spiralling insurance costs or employing fire marshals. The cost of services like window cleaning and gutter repairs is also reduced if workers aren’t having to use cherry pickers or roof-mounted pulleys to carry out maintenance jobs.


Amid the boom in post-war high-rise living, corners were cut and many homes were built with poor sound insulation. That’s not an issue in a detached bungalow, and rarely a concern in a semi-detached house, either. Modern flats absorb acoustic sounds far better than their predecessors, and fewer homes in each block means less chance of late-night taxi horns or early-morning furniture deliveries disturbing your peace. Even a four-storey apartment block is only likely to have a dozen homes sharing one entrance, as opposed to hundreds in a tower.