Micro-Apartments are the Latest Trend in Urban Living

Have you ever dreamed of living in an urban area where everything you need is close by? A place where shopping, entertainment, and work are just minutes away from one another — and on foot?


You’re not alone. The thrill of big-city life is something that appeals to a many people. Unfortunately, the rents are usually prohibitively expensive for living spaces in these areas. Students who have been drawn to a major metropolis for their higher education find they can’t afford to stick around the area after graduation.


Some people who share your dream have discovered that giving up on the notion of having a house or a spacious apartment is the magic trade-off for the opportunity to enjoy life in the center of a big city. Tiny apartments offer a dwelling space that’s affordable if you want to live in the middle of all the action.


Some people who already live in the city are finding it necessary to downsize if they want to be able to stay where they are. This trend is happening across the country, and retailers such as IKEA are catering to city dwellers by providing solutions for utilizing their space most effectively.


The high cost of living


Many elements that have driven the growing interest in what has become known as micro-living. The first and foremost is the economy. Real estate is at a premium in the downtown core of U.S. cities, and landlords are finding it profitable as well as desirable to make smaller spaces available to those who want them.


Larger living spaces require more in terms of rent than many people are able to afford. This means fewer people are renting alone: They choose to share a space or downsize in order to stay in a space that’s in the vibrant center of their city.


Poor economic climate


The change in economic climate over the past six years has created the rising demand for micro-apartments and affordable rent spaces. While some buildings require conversions that can increase the number of units but involve costly upgrades, other structures are being built from the ground up.


Keeping rents lower than the competition is the name of the game, and one of the strategies to keep prices low is volume. More low rents will equal more continual renters, which generate more income from the building.


Municipal governments in large U.S. population areas such as New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, and San Francisco are responding to the “brain drain” of young graduates who find they can’t afford to stay in the city to work. Housing restrictions are being loosened to accommodate these hopeful city dwellers.

And the biggest cities aren’t the only ones. Late last fall a developer announced plans to build two different buildings of micro-apartments in Portland, Oregon. They’ll all be less than 200 square feet, yet include a living area and bathroom. The kitchen space will be shared by several apartment units.


As a reflection of the change in culture for urban dwellers who prefer the micro lifestyle, the Portland complexes are also being promoted for bicycle-friendly living.


Reasons for the shift


Urban citizens who choose to live in a small space do so for a number of reasons. They may have had to downsize due to affordability, or they were paying too much for space they simply weren’t using. Some are brand-new empty nesters.


Some experts have warned that the micro lifestyle might work well for 20-somethings on a limited budget, but pose a potential mental health risk for older Americans who would have a more difficult time adjusting. Dak Kopec, director of design for human health at Boston Architectural College, is of this opinion.


Kopec said people in their 30s and 40s who face a variety of other sources of stress might find the added pressure of having to live in a tiny space even more upsetting.


But fans of micro-apartments appreciate the fact that small-space living enables them to spend their limited funds elsewhere. No matter the reason to choose micro-living, the numbers show its popularity as an urban option has been increasing in recent years.


Lifestyle adjustments


Living in a smaller space requires a bit of lifestyle adjustment. This can include the design of the space. The wrong design will clutter a small space and have the person asking why on earth he or she decided to downsize.


The key to downsizing in general is to figure out how to enable the space to be properly utilized. Small space living isn’t for those who collect and hold onto everything, and it isn’t for those who have a hard time letting personal belongings go.

Efficiency is king and the lifestyle that works best around it is all about living in the moment. It’s about making your home a sanctuary but not a replacement for the world outside.

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