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Micro Apartment Craze

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

You may have heard of small house living as an affordable and ecological way to own a home. Now San Francisco is home to a growing micro apartment boom to appeal to renters who want to live by themselves but can't afford the average studio apartment rent of about $2,100 a month.

San Francisco is one of many cities with an affordable housing crisis. To deal with this crisis, developer Panoramic Interests created tiny apartments about 295 square feet that rent for an average of $1,600, considerably less than other new-construction apartments in the area. These appeal to the young and single crowd or retirees who live on their own but have limited budgets.

Not everyone is happy with this trend to tiny living spaces. Legislation was passed in 2012 to allow numerous 220 square feet or over "residential units" for up to two people. In order for the legislation to pass, building was capped at 375 units with a review of the units undertaken after 325 are built. Some of the expressed concerns are that the units will:

  • increase the number of residents in area (parking, anyone?)
  • lead to increased rents overall in the city
  • become "crash pads for high-tech employees" (similar to Japan with its sleeping cubicles for businesspeople working late and unable to get home)

Aside from the cheaper price -- assuming you don't have a rent-controlled apartment -- let's look at some other factors of the growing micro apartment craze:

Double-utilized Spaces

Although the price is right, these miniscule studios take some getting used to. Spaces are double utilized so that the counter doubles as a desk and the kitchen table magically turns into a Murphy bed. Presto! With some maneuvering, numerous work/sleep areas are created from one tiny space. Tall people beware, as the small bathtub is a reflection of the tiny apartment size.

Minimalistic Living

Of course, few possessions fit into a space this size, so minimalistic living is an essential factor of the micro apartment. Think Buddha living in a futuristic studio. What do you really need?

Furnishings Included

The key to these micro studios are its furnishings. Chairs, albeit plastic, are provided, as is the Murphy bed, desk/counter, bench/breakfast nook, kitchen table and even big-screen TV. The TV is visible everywhere, except maybe the bathroom. Just bring some kitchen gear, clothes, laptop and a few toiletries to start micro living.

Get Outside

To live in a space this tiny, you would have to work a lot and/or be a very social person so that you are rarely in the micro studio. A homebody may go stir-crazy in an apartment this size

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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