Rents seem to keep going up, no matter where you are in the country. While it's still possible to find a deal, thinking smaller can also be an option if you're looking to stay on budget. Many city planners and developers are turning to build micro-units to house more people within city centers to fight the affordable housing crisis.
For others, lower rents or proximity to their desired neighborhood, according to this 2015 report, drives their interest in micro-units. Micro-units tend to target young professionals in their 20s and other singles.
Thinking of living small? Keep reading to see if it fits your lifestyle.
Micro units are very small apartments, typically less than 350 square feet — slightly larger than a one-car garage. Think of a tiny home, but an apartment instead. You've most likely seen them in Japan and Europe.
In the last decade, New York and Seattle have seen a surge in availability to accommodate their growing populations. The only thing to keep in mind: size requirements aren't always the same. In San Francisco, for example, legislation passed allowing apartments as small as 220 square feet.
While you trade-off space, you may gain savings from the lower monthly rent as well as lower utility bills, thanks to its energy efficiency. Each unit usually comes with a small kitchen and a bathroom, or there's a shared kitchenette with the unit only for sleeping. The buildings often offer more amenities as well.
However, since micro-unit apartments are often not regulated, the rents may be higher than a standard studio apartment. But usually, what wins out is the location for prospective micro-unit renters.
A micro-unit apartment focuses on efficiency. The unit is a smaller studio with an open concept area that includes a small bathroom and kitchenette. Depending on the complex, the unit will offer a Murphy bed option to save space and create a living room. It may also include modular furniture that has more than one way to use it — think a wall bookcase also contains a table.
Some complexes may offer a shared kitchen option in a communal space instead, so the small unit is only used for sleeping.
Most units are eco-friendly with low-carbon footprints, and the complexes often offer luxury amenities like car-sharing discounts, communal lounges and pet perks. Cubix North Park in Seattle (shown above) provides 231-square-feet studios for $995.
Let's talk about the positive features of a micro-unit apartment and how it can benefit your lifestyle.
The main appeal of micro-unit apartments is the allure of lower rent for a better location and maybe even kicking your car to the curb. In Urban Land Institute report, most respondents surveyed expected micro-unit apartment's monthly rent around 21 percent to 30 percent less than that of a comparable studio.
Just make sure you do your research. In some cities, standard studios are the same or less than a micro-unit in the same neighborhood.
A significant perk of this kind of unit is that developers kept eco-friendliness in mind when building. Complexes use eco-friendly products and LEED-certified appliances and fixtures to keep costs down for them and you. Believe it or not, you're also saving money and the environment by not buying more furniture and things for your apartment.
If you hug it, does it bring you joy? If you hate clutter and live a very minimalistic life, micro-units will alleviate the stress of finding more storage. You can easily optimize your small space for what you have and just practice 'one in, one out' without worrying about clutter.
The trade-off for less space? Location. If you're looking for a place closer to work, public transportation and nightlife without affecting your wallet too much, micro-units are the way to make your city life dreams come true.
While there are plenty of pros, it's good to balance out the cons you may not consider when thinking about micro-unit apartments.
Because micro-units are the new thing, they can also be incredibly price-prohibitive in certain areas. While the amenities and location may sound tempting, check for market rates and protect yourself before signing a lease.
The smaller space, no actual outdoor options, not entertaining friends or guests and increased stress can quickly escalate as health risks for those in micro-unit apartments. Feeling isolated can affect your mental health in such a small space. You must understand your lifestyle and mental health balance before agreeing to live in a smaller space.
While most people who choose micro-unit apartments are single professionals, micro-unit apartments are affordable housing options. However, it is difficult to live with others in such a small space, so it isn't a good option for families or sharing with others. They're often not pet-friendly either.
People choose micro-units for a better location, lower rent or just because you like having a smaller space. It's truly an excellent option for you if it fits your lifestyle. Whatever your reason is to live in under 350-square-feet, you can find micro-unit apartments in your city right on Apartment Guide.