Micro Space Living: Pros and Cons

Would you considering living in a space so small you have to leave to change your mind? There may be consequences to the micro-living phenomenon!

When it comes to an apartment space, how small is too small? We take a look at a few factors in this debate.

By Elizabeth Beasley with Steve Harper

Depending on how you handle stress and small spaces, the micro-living phenomenon may be a god-send or the bane of your home living existence.

Keep reading to learn how living in a small space just might affect your health — and some tips for making it work in the right tiny apartment.

Claustrophobic or cozy?
It could be argued that folks have been living in small spaces since the first cave went on the market — occupying that brownstone in prehistoric Manhattan almost certainly required resources.

Though leasing a small apartment in an expensive market saves on the rent, there are other significant implications, as well.

Modern-day studies, like Susan Saegert’s research as director of the Housing Environments Research Group, help to determine the social and psychological effects of housing. In Jacoba Urist’s December 2013 article for The Atlantic, Saegert makes the interesting assertion that, markets behaving as they will, a proliferation of smaller living spaces will ultimately set a tiny footprint as the baseline floor plan measurement, eventually driving the price of apartments from studios on up. For every renter who is able to afford living in a city like New York today because of a micro-space, there is the potential side effect of making the city both unaffordable and unlivable in the future. “In New York, property is just gold,” Saegert says.

Here are a few highlights of how living in a small space might pose a health risk:

  • Also noted in the Urist article, tight quarters like micro-apartments can add to stress by creating physical constraints and actually limiting movement.
  • Sharing small spaces could make inhabitants more irritable as they have to constantly coordinate activities with the other people living there.
  • Living with roommates or family members can also result in a lack of home privacy.
  • Too many micro-apartments can lead to an overcrowded community, one where stress and agitation are the unfortunate rule, rather than the exception.

Making a tiny apartment work
That said, let’s take a look at the flip side. A small apartment is inherently cozier, and many praise the benefits of a life lived with less stuff to worry about.

Living in a smaller space allows residents decide to live in a city that is otherwise too expensive. So the ultimate plus for living in a micro space is the chance to live in a great city.

It might be a matter of age that plays into whether one could healthfully inhabit a small apartment. Younger, single city-dwellers might be more suited to the challenges of the small space than those with families, as noted by TreeHugger.com.

Remember that not all small spaces are created equal. Look beyond square footage to find a compact apartment that fits just right for you.

  • Windows work wonders and can make a smaller space seem huge. Look for a spot with lots of natural light and window views.
  • High ceilings will lift your spirits and keep you from feeling too cramped.
  • Balance a small apartment with a roomy balcony or patio. Access to the outside can calm your claustrophobia.
  • Look for light colors. Shop for a space which features light-colored floors, walls and cabinetry.
  • Consider the community and your lifestyle. If you think you’ll spend more time in common areas — or out and about in the neighborhood — a small space will be fine for the few hours you are actually home each day.

Photo credit: Shutterstock / GoodMood Photo

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