Can a family of 5 live in a 2 bedroom apartment in California?

Living in a small space with a large family can be challenging, but it is possible for a family of 5 to live comfortably in a 2 bedroom apartment in California. The key factors to consider are apartment layout and design, furniture choices, storage solutions, and lifestyle adjustments. With some creativity and compromise, a family of 5 can thrive in a modest California apartment.

Is it legal for 5 people to live in a 2 bedroom apartment in California?

There are no statewide laws in California that legally prohibit 5 people from living in a 2 bedroom apartment. However, some local city or county ordinances may have occupancy limits. Generally, 2 people per bedroom plus 1 additional person is a common standard. So in most cases, 5 people in a 2 bedroom would meet local occupancy codes.

It’s important to check the specific laws for the city or county the apartment is located in. The lease agreement should also be reviewed, as landlords may set their own occupancy limits. As long as there are no violations of local laws or the lease, it is legal for a family of 5 to reside in a 2 bedroom apartment in California.

Optimizing bedroom space

The two bedrooms will need to be optimized to fit 3 children comfortably. Bunk beds can allow two children to share a room, with the third child in the second bedroom. Loft beds with desks underneath are another space-saving option. The rooms should be decluttered to maximize floor space. Excess furniture like dressers can be removed and replaced with storage beds for clothing and belongings. Closet organizers like shelves, bins and hangers can also help utilize closet space efficiently.

Furniture choices

The right furniture choices can make sharing bedrooms and living areas much easier for a family of 5. Some ideal options include:

  • Bunk beds and loft beds for bedrooms
  • Murphy beds or sofa beds to transform living spaces for extra sleeping space
  • Convertible coffee tables with storage bins and lift-tops
  • Stackable chairs and stools that can be tucked away
  • Multi-purpose ottomans with storage inside
  • Small, lightweight furniture that is easy to move around
  • Folding furniture like tables, chairs and bookshelves
  • Low profile furniture that doesn’t obstruct the space, like platform beds

The furniture should be proportionate to the size of the rooms. Measuring the dimensions of the space before shopping is important to ensure everything will fit together nicely.

Maximizing living room usage

Since the living room will be a shared communal space, maximizing its use and comfort is key. Some tips include:

  • Have designated spaces for relaxing, eating, and playing/working.
  • Use area rugs to define functional spaces.
  • Keep pathways and high-traffic areas clear.
  • Use the walls by mounting shelves, bookcases, and wall-mounted tables or desks.
  • Add comfy, multi-purpose floor seating like poufs, ottomans and floor pillows.
  • Use stackable storage cubes and bins to corral toys.
  • Install a murphy bed or sofa bed for additional overnight guests if needed.

Optimizing furniture layout and creating versatile zones can keep the living room organized and comfortable for the whole family.

Creative storage solutions

Lack of storage can make small spaces seem even smaller. When housing a family of 5 in a 2 bedroom apartment, utilizing every bit of storage is crucial. Some helpful storage ideas include:

Built-in storage

Take advantage of built-ins like closets, kitchen cabinets, shelves, etc. Add organizational systems like:

  • Closet systems with shelves, rods and drawers
  • Cabinet organizers and lazy susans
  • Drawer dividers
  • Tiered shelving
  • Hanging storage for pots and pans
  • Under-cabinet bins

Multifunctional furniture

As mentioned before, furniture like ottomans, beds, coffee tables and desks with storage space integrated are extremely useful. Store items like books, toys, clothes, linens inside.

Wall storage

Wall-mounted shelves, bookcases, cabinets and racks can provide a lot of extra storage without taking up floor space. Great for storing everything from dishes to office supplies.

Under the bed

Use storage bins, drawers and boxes to stash items under beds.

Seasonal storage

Utilize under bed space, back of closets andcabinets to store out of season clothing and other items not used year-round.

Hidden storage

Baskets, bins and decorative trunks can conceal everyday clutter like books, blankets, toiletries and children’s toys.

Outdoor storage

For recreational gear, outdoor furniture and other large or seasonal items, make use of balconies, patios and storage units if available.

Getting creative with storage spots throughout the apartment helps keep things neat and organized for a family of 5.

Lifestyle adjustments

While a 2 bedroom apartment can physically fit a family of 5, living in close quarters will require some lifestyle adjustments. Some changes families may need to make include:


Strictly limit belongings to only essential items. Practice decluttering to avoid clutter buildup.

Shared spaces

Privacy becomes scarce, so family members will need to share bedrooms and respect communal living areas.

Noise reduction

Reduce noise conflicts by setting quiet hours, using headphones and minimizing noisy activities like TV volume.

Coordinate schedules

Take turns using the bathroom in the morning. Coordinate meal prep. Alternate going out to avoid overcrowding at home.

Consistent cleaning

With 5 people, messes multiply quickly. Stick to a cleaning schedule and share age-appropriate chores.

Plan ahead

Grocery shop and meal prep for the week ahead. Schedule activities outside the home when possible.


Living in close quarters requires teamwork and patience. Be willing to compromise over space and possessions.

Adjusting some habits and personal spaces is necessary. With compromise, it can work out well for close-knit families.

Making a small space livable for 5

While challenging, a California 2 bedroom can accommodate a family of 5 with the right planning. Here are some tips:

  • Optimize bedroom space with bunk beds, loft beds and closet organizers.
  • Choose size-appropriate, multifunctional furniture.
  • Maximize living room usage by defining activity zones.
  • Get creative with storage using built-ins, furniture, wall storage and hidden spaces.
  • Practice minimalism and decluttering.
  • Be willing to share rooms and make lifestyle adjustments.
  • Maintain cleanliness and organization on a strict schedule.

With smart storage, furniture arrangement, and family teamwork, a family of 5 can live comfortably in a 2 bedroom California apartment.

Pros of living in a small space as a large family

While tight, sharing a small home has some advantages for a big family:

Teaches cooperation

When each family member has to take turns, share spaces and items, and be conscientious of others, valuable cooperation skills are gained.

Encourages minimalism

Only having room for essentials causes the family to consciously adopt a minimalist lifestyle.

Nurtures creativity

Thinking creatively about storage, multi-purpose furniture and space usage unlocks inventive solutions.

Provides bonding time

Being in close contact with loved ones nurtures relationship growth and quality bonding time.

Reduces expenses

Eliminating excess possessions cuts spending. Smaller rentals cost less, leaving more money for savings, activities or investments.

Lowers environmental impact

Using fewer resources is good for the planet. Less heating/cooling, lower land usage and reduced consumption leaves a smaller ecological footprint.

Living sustainably and simply as a family can have many benefits beyond just financial.

Cons of living in a small space as a large family

While the close quarters can add positive value, the downsides should also be considered:

Lack of privacy

With bedrooms and bathrooms being shared, personal space and alone time is hard to find.

Tensions can arise

Being around others constantly in a cramped environment can cause tempers to flare.

Messiness happens quickly

With 5 people using a small home, clutter and messes multiply fast.

Activities get disrupted

Noise, shared use of spaces and differences in schedules make uninterrupted activities challenging.

Personalities may clash

Diverse personalities and habits rubbing against each other frequently in tight quarters can heighten conflict.

Harder to accommodate guests

Having visitors such as grandparents or friends stay over becomes very difficult.

Drawbacks like lack of personal space and privacy should be weighed when deciding if a small home works for your family.


While living in a 2 bedroom apartment with 5 family members poses challenges, it can be done successfully. The keys are utilizing smart storage solutions, thoughtfully arranging furniture, and a willingness to share spaces and make lifestyle changes. The pros of learning cooperation and saving money may outweigh the cons of reduced privacy for some families. There are no laws prohibiting 5 people in a 2 bedroom in California, so with some adjustments it can be a viable option for keeping a big family together affordably.

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