Growing Popularity of Micro Apartment — Google is spending $30 million to purchase micro apartments for its employees in Silicon Valley! Demand for rentals is increasing at a very fast pace, far outpacing the increase in supply. Because of that, every major city in the U.S. is dominated by renters; just in New York City alone more than 64 percent of people rent their homes. As we know, we can create everything but land, so how to serve the ever-growing generation of renters? Well, property developers are turning to a new strategy: creating micro apartment.
Instead of building a property with 50 apartments, developers are building the same size property but with 200 or more apartments. NYC and San Francisco are first cities doing this. We have seen this type of living in highly populated places around the world, in cities such as Tokyo or Hong Kong.
What is micro apartment?
So, what exactly is the definition of a micro apartment? Essentially micro apartment is one room self-contained living areas that are specially built to accommodate a small sitting area, kitchenette/eating area and bathroom. According to Wikipedia, micro apartment is “a one-room, self-contained living space, usually purpose built, designed to accommodate a sitting space, sleeping space, bathroom and kitchenette with a size with 50–350 square feet (14–32 square meters).” Most micro apartments average 300 square feet or less.
Based on The Urban Land Institute’s research “Macro View on Micro-Units” target customers are “predominantly young professional singles, typically under 30 years of age, with most under 27 years of age, trending slightly more male than female. Most potential micro-unit renters earn less than $40,000 a year. In addition to the youthful and mostly unattached core market, other segment markets including downsizing (single) empty-nesters, some couples and the pied-à-terre crowd who own/rent elsewhere and use the apartments as crash pads.”
Usually, micro apartments have appliances made miniature, like a dishwasher that’s more like a drawer than a big, chunky device commonly thought of and mini-ovens that work as an oven and a microwave. With the apartment complex, developers are putting in a range of amenities for the inhabitants. Areas that have been added on in different micro apartment complexes include storage for bikes and belongings, a gym, small communal gardens and a laundry. Developers are putting in glass sliding doors, giving inhabitants as much natural light as possible and making the roofs high to give the sense of a less claustrophobic space.
Micro apartment phenomenon
There are several movements fueling the micro apartment phenomenon. People like living in the middle of all the action and that means in the middle of large urban centers where housing is very expensive.
There is a commitment to living a greener lifestyle. Living in an urban center means people can free themselves from owning cars and have all the entertainment and amenities they want at their fingertips. This is a winning combination for many young singles and couples.
Another reason for the popularity of micro apartments is a social phenomenon that is also in full swing. People are waiting longer to get married and have families so they need less space. Gone are the days of moving to the suburbs for bigger homes with yards. The focus has switched from family to individuals.
For many, micro apartments represent an even cheaper way to afford housing in expensive areas without sacrificing higher end finishes and quality. Renters can save several hundred of dollars or more per month over a studio or one bedroom apartment in the center of a big city that offers less functional space than a person gets in a micro apartment.
People are learning that downsizing and living with less is freeing and helps keep the focus on what is most important. The shift is away from the quantity of things to the quality of things and that includes living space.
One of the things that attract young singles to micro apartment living is the intelligent design of many units. A lot of care and planning goes into developing units that optimize every inch of space in creative, intelligent and efficient ways. Think of micro apartment as dorm rooms on steroids. Some micro apartment developments also have shared facilities such as rooftop terraces, gyms, libraries, communal kitchen and bathrooms to augment living options. These additional shared living spaces are perfect for the socially connected generations that are attracted to this style of living.
Difference between micro apartments and small rooms
What’s different between micro apartments and small rooms is the fact that micro apartments are designed to be lived in, unlike a share house room which was designed as a room without too much thought on design for day to day living. There are quality micro apartments that have amazing storage space for the living area given. Some smaller rooms haven’t had much room for anything else except a bed, and having things in the room took away too much space. With the micro apartments being built now, storage isn’t so much of a problem. True, you can’t have your own furniture in there, but if you’re single, just moved to the city, fresh out of home, or don’t have the spare money for furniture it’s a promising idea to take advantage of the storage planned into the design.
If you’re someone who likes to have people around, then a micro apartment probably isn’t for you. Perhaps you could have a couple of people around, but no parties. Think about if you could live alone and spend that much time with yourself. People are all different, and the lack of space and people may make you uncomfortable. If you can spend long time alone, or are just using the apartment to sleep, then it can work for you.
For most people, micro apartment won’t be a forever situation, but a transient one. It’s likely it will be used while you settle yourself in a new city, as you find a job or study. The building may not have the neighborly feel of other buildings due to people coming and going, but you may enjoy not having to make small talk with others.
Consider yourself when thinking about moving into a micro apartment. If you’ve never enjoyed being alone or in a small space, then it’s unlikely a micro apartment is for you unless it’s all you can afford. If you don’t know how you can handle living in a micro apartment, you’ll soon find out if it’s a positive or a negative for you. I know some people who will probably live in micro apartments and thrive in them, while others have not enjoyed living that close to themselves at all. I’d recommend trying one if you’re unsure but interested. It is a cheap way of moving into a city and getting yourself settled, and knowing that it’s for now and not forever can be a tremendous help.
Micro Apartments in New York City
Micro apartments are an answer to the living needs of single people, and New York is seeing a number of micro apartment blocks opening up around the city. In the past, micro apartments were legal in NYC, but this was changed in the 1980s when it became illegal to make apartment under 400sq feet. Due to a lack of space, changing consumer demands, high rental prices and the number of single people growing meant that regulations regarding apartment sizes must be revived. The first of the new micro apartment blocks was opened on East 27th Street recently, with 55 apartments of 260 – 360sq feet of living space for between $2000 and $3000.
The apartments are prefabricated, being put together at New York’s Naval Yard and shipped to the block and connected almost like building blocks. Many apartments come with a toilet, kitchenette and sleeping area. How many of these will be popping up around New York’s streets is to be seen, as it depends on demand and how people handle living in such a small area. For some people, it may not be too bad if they work a lot of hours or have an active social life that results in them being away from home a lot. For many New Yorkers, it may not be that much of a change in the living space they have – If you’re sharing an apartment, you may be in a room that is a lot smaller than a micro apartment and technically you could be upgrading.
Micro apartments are popping up all over the US
The number of single people is growing, whether they’re leaving home and young or newly divorced and needing somewhere to live. A micro apartment is an affordable option for single people who want to remain close to the heart of a city. Except the New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C., Boston, and other places are also considering micro apartments for their growing populations. They are designed with kitchenettes and small bathrooms in an area of just 500 sqft or less with add-ons to make living easier. The add-ons for micro apartments include gyms, communal gardens, study spaces, storage areas for your extra stuff and bike parking areas. Designers have considered what it is like to live and are trying to make micro apartments where people want to live. Don’t think of a micro apartment like a dirty, tiny shoe box for people on the fringes of society, but for single professionals and students who want to live in their own space without paying extra money for unwanted space.
The health aspects of life in a micro apartment are up for debate. Micro apartment blocks could end up overcrowded, which has happened in the past. Older people over 30 may face mental stress from living in a cramped space, and the novelty of living in a micro apartment will stop over time. Living in a micro apartment means folding down the bed before you sleep and putting it back up when you’re awake, folding up and down the table to eat. Having your own furniture in a micro apartment won’t happen, and having to do extra little tasks each day could drain or frustrate some people.
A micro apartment could help people new to a city get a foothold in the rental market, especially in large cities like NYC or Los Angeles. It could be a way for people without a rental history to get one in an affordable apartment. What is important for people living in micro apartments is what amenities are available in the area. The complex may offer a few things, but the area may offer a lot more. Bars, clubs, art galleries, being close to work, a public park, swimming pool, fitness center, cinema, nightlife or daily activities could be a selling point for people. Living somewhere affordable close to the life you want to live is something that people want.
What’s your choice?
A micro apartment may not be for everyone, as some people may end up with a touch of cabin fever from living in a cramped space. For others, a micro apartment will exist as a bedroom more than a living area. Micro apartments aren’t a new idea and were used in the past but were stopped due to problems with overcrowding. The demographic has changed with people spending more of their lives single than in previous years. Sharing an apartment is common, but means not having your own space. A micro apartment means having your own space, even if it is less than 300 sqft. You may be happy living in a micro apartment and it’s worth trying out if it means benefits like living close to work, family or a social life.
People in big cities spend most of their time outside their apartments. If you live in NYC, Chicago or LA how much time in a day will you actually spend in your apartment? If you are like the most people living and working in those cities, you will work the entire day and just come home to shower, watch one episode of your favorite show and go to sleep. Next day comes; you will do it all over again. People pay very high rents every month for a space they just use to sleep in. Micro apartments can be one of the solutions in solving the problem of high rent apartments.
Micro apartment is becoming a growing trend among urban population which chooses price and location over the size of the apartment. Will it just stay a short-term trend or will it become the way most people will live in the future? Only time will tell.