In the past, “bigger is better” was the motto of residential apartments. This is why classic six apartments were considered to be the gem of the rental market. However, as both space and finances became a concern in major cities such as Boston and New York, the trend shifted towards the other end of the spectrum. Apartments are downsizing in size, and subsequently, in the rental price.
Today, micro-apartments are becoming more and more popular. You can even find them in luxurious neighborhoods such as Chelsea or Williamsburg, nestled among other types of apartments that are typically viewed as “opulent” residential units, such as loft, classic six, or even penthouse apartments.
But what are micro apartments, and why are they so popular? More importantly, is a micro apartment right for you?
Let’s find out!
Micro apartments are based on the “tiny living” principle: being able to enjoy all the comforts of a regular residential area, but with only a limited amount of space. While it was originally used for homes, the idea has since been adapted for apartment living.
Most micro apartments are 350 square feet or less in size, and they have the same layout as studio apartments. They are a single room that contains the sleeping area, living room, dining room, and kitchenette. Just as with studio apartments, the bathroom is a small separate room.
In some buildings, the small space of a micro apartment is offset with the inclusion of communal spaces such as rooftop gardens, a gym, or a pool.
Since there is always a higher premium for residential options in commercial or business locations within the city, renters opt for micro apartments as a way to enjoy all the benefits of urban living without breaking the bank.
According to a report by the Urban Land Institute Multifamily Housing Councils, micro apartments are cheaper by about 20-30% compared to traditional apartments. This can be a big deal for solo renters, students, and young professionals who are looking for affordable housing.
There is a caveat, however. If the location is highly desirable, even micro apartments aren’t that much cheaper. In Manhattan’s trendy Kips Bay neighborhood, a micro apartment will cost around $2500 to $2900 per month. However, since the average studio apartment rent in other areas of Manhattan hovers around $2700 for a unit, the Kips Bay micro apartments are hardly a steal.
For urbanites and busy professionals, an apartment is simply a place to recharge, bathe, and store their belongings. This means that micro apartments are perfect for their lifestyle. If you don’t spend a lot of time in your apartment, it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot on rent for what is essentially a glorified storage unit!
Since micro apartments are so small and space is precious, renters are obliged to keep only what they need. Basically, the layout of the apartment makes you live the “Marie Kondo lifestyle” by default. Consequently, you will also be more careful what you purchase since you’ll have limited room to store items.
Here are some of the perks of renting a micro apartment:
We’ve already mentioned that micro apartments are generally cheaper compared to other types of apartments, but aside from the lower rental costs, you will also be saving money when it comes to your utilities. Micro apartments are cheaper to heat during the winter and cool during the summer. What’s more, you will also spend less on electricity since you have fewer appliances.
One of the benefits of the spartan lifestyle that comes with living in a micro apartment is that you will be living an eco-friendly lifestyle. Since you are only buying the things that you need, you won’t be producing as much waste or junk.
If you’re considering moving into a micro unit, then chances are that being close to the action is your goal. You can take advantage of the fact that there’s not much space to do anything inside your apartment. So, when you’re not sleeping, you have every reason to grab a coffee with friends, go see a play, stroll through the park, or simply go sightseeing around the city.
As with cheaper rent and utilities, the small square footage of a micro apartment means that cleanup and maintenance is a breeze! Even if you only have the time and energy to sweep up once every couple of days, you’ll be making a huge difference in the cleanliness of the apartment.
Since micro apartments are becoming so popular due to their affordability and creative use of available space, you can conceivably find a unit almost anywhere in New York. Whether you want to live close to the Financial District so that the commute is easier, or you want a more relaxed and laid back lifestyle as you would find in Battery Park, chances are that you will find a micro unit available at your budget range.
Here are some of the things to consider before signing the lease on a micro apartment:
The biggest trade-off when it comes to the affordability and ease of maintenance of micro apartments is that you don’t have any space to spare at all. At times, you won’t even have space for items that you do need, like a closet or a bookshelf. If you have a lot of personal belongings, you might need to rent additional space within your building.
Most micro apartments will have limits on the number of people that are allowed to live in them due to safety concerns. So, even if you find someone who would be willing to squeeze into a micro apartment with you, the rental agreement might not allow it.
Yes, this also applies even to couples!
Moving into a micro apartment can pose a challenge if you already have furniture. Since most furniture is designed for regular apartments, conventional furniture can quickly eat up any available space! This means that you might need to purchase furniture that’s specifically designed for small spaces.
You might need to opt for dual-purpose furniture such as sofa beds or pull out beds, or you can have a Murphy bed installed.
When choosing any type of apartment, you have to consider both the pros and cons. With micro apartments, it seems like the choice is more noticeable compared to other apartments because of the significant space limitation. On one hand, you’ll be saving up on rent and utilities, but on the other, you might be spending on additional storage space and getting new furniture.
In case you are considering a micro apartment, it might be a good idea to visit the unit in person so that you’ll have a feel for what it’s like to live there. From the moment you enter the door, you’ll be able to gauge whether you can live comfortably with the “tiny life” concept. However, if you feel that the apartment is just a little too cramped, you can opt for a junior one or alcove studio instead.