Living Small in Big Cities
Young professionals find charm and simplicity in micro-sized apartments, despite tiny square footage
What would you give up to live in the heart of city for a fraction of the cost? For young, single professionals in cities like New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago, where rents are high, micro-apartments are gaining popularity as an affordable way to live in a city’s most desirable location.
Micro-living may not be for everyone, but those who have adopted it say that its benefits far outweigh the sacrifice of square footage.
“It’s a good price for a brand new space in a very walkable neighborhood, with good access to good transit,” says Jim Potter, chair of Kauri Investments, a Seattle-based real estate investment and development company that has established micro-apartments in Seattle, Portland and Oakland.
In Seattle, the micro-apartments that Potter has developed range in price from $700 to $900 per month and include furniture, Wi-Fi and utilities. The units rent for 60 to 70 percent of that of a typical studio apartment in Seattle, Potter says.
“When I saw this idea, I thought it’s perfect for me because I’m in school right now,” says Joe Rose, 27, who rents one of Kauri’s 200-square-foot spaces. “I’m out of the apartment a lot, and even when I’m in there, having much space isn’t a big deal to me. I eat out a lot so having a full kitchen in my apartment isn’t a huge thing to me.”
But when he does feel the urge to cook, Rose says he enjoys using the communal kitchen – a common aspect of micro-apartment buildings – which he says has allowed him to meet and make friends with his neighbors.
The biggest benefits Rose sees are price and location, which he says is unbeatable. “I could save about $300 a month plus have everything included, like my Wi-Fi, electric and everything, so it’s that one bill. That was a big plus to me,” Rose says.
“Our goal is to make it a one-stop shop. You can show up with a suitcase or backpack in hand and you can move into our place,” says Potter.
The average renter makes an average of $2,000 to $3,000 per month and is early to mid-30s in age, Potter says. The units are intended for individuals, and are largely popular with singles, who are either working or in school.
Many micro-apartments offer short-term leases, an attractive option for those moving to a new city who may not be certain of an area in which they’d like to live.
Aron Susman, 30, moved to Manhattan from Houston in January to start an office for his hybrid web brokerage start-up, TheSquareFoot. In search of an affordable living option, Susman wasn’t necessarily in favor of living with roommates, especially people he didn’t know.
His other low rent option—living in Brooklyn—was one he considered, but knowing his work and friends were in Manhattan drew him to consider micro-living. For $1,100 per month, Susman found a micro-apartment in Union Square that offers a roof deck, gym, café and laundry facilities.
“Having a place like this makes it really easy and flexible to adjust here,” he says. “It forces me to go out and experience the city and go do more things as opposed to lay on the couch.”
Susman says he enjoys the feeling of knowing that he’s using only the resources he needs. In the case that he needs to move, not having many personal belongings means he can do so quickly and easily.
But if the minimalist lifestyle does not appeal to you and you’re the type of person that has a lot of “stuff,” micro-living is probably not the best choice for you, Rose and Susman say.
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