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Micro-Units and Micro-Apartments: What Are They?

October 21, 2019

Forget studio apartments. Micro-apartments are the trend-setting standard for tiny dwellings in city centers.

These small apartments embody the spirit of tiny home living, only in an urban atmosphere with all of the amenities you could hope for.

But is a micro-apartment right for you? Below is everything you need to know before you downsize your way to cozy city living.

What is a Micro-Apartment?

Micro-apartments (AKA micro-units) are smaller-than-average studios with a footprint typically between 200 and 400 square feet.

Micro-apartments are NOT small one-bedrooms. They’re usually an open concept area where a bedroom, living space, and kitchen blend together.

You can also think of a micro-apartment as an efficiency apartment with small amenities complete with a lofted bed to free up precious space.

However, micro-unit renters usually enjoy more upscale amenities and convenient locations for smaller price tags.

Despite the small size, micro-units are designed for maximum efficiency. They often have high ceilings and oversized windows to make them feel larger than they really are. Pick the right city and location, and your small apartment may feature dazzling city views.

Amenities to Look For in Micro-Units

Finding the right amenities and features are key when choosing a micro-apartment. Without the right layout and space-saving features, micro-apartment units can feel positively cramped.

1. Illusion of Space

Look for features that create the illusion of space. Those can include high ceilings, balconies, or decks. They may also feature storage solutions like vertical cabinets to keep your micro-apartment feeling as spacious as possible.

2. Common Areas

An upscale micro-apartment building also features common spaces like spacious lobbies and rooftop decks. Those areas give residents an opportunity to spread out and gather for an evening of socializing. 

2. Additional Storage

Some apartment buildings might even offer limited resident storage in a common basement. Additionally, some may have bike racks that can further maximize your apartment space. 

Pros of Living in a Micro-Unit

Micro-apartment living comes with it's pros and cons. If you are on the fence, make sure you know what they are.

1. Save on Rent

Living in a small space means saving a ton on rent. Depending on your city, micro-units may rent for up to $600 less than studio apartments in the same area or neighborhoods.

2. Less Furniture Means More Savings

The smaller size also means less furniture and decor to buy. It also means less time cleaning up or the need for a regular housekeeping service.

But there's more than just financial savings involved. A micro-unit can also save you tons of time throughout your day. 

3. Live in the Best Locations

Most of these tiny apartments are found in city centers. You may be able to enjoy quick access to work, restaurants, bars, and the best urban amenities.

4. Ditch the Car

Micro-dwellers might even be able to ditch the car altogether. Instead, residents can rely on nearby public transportation, walking, biking, and ride-sharing to further the cost- and time-saving benefits of living small.

5. Help the Environment

Environmentally conscious renters also love that most micro-apartments are eco-friendly. They take up less space and resources and are often LEED-certified. 

Depending on the building, the LEED certification may indicate eco-friendly heating and cooling systems. They may also include light fixtures, appliances, flooring, and robust recycling programs. 

There’s also a trickle-down effect when it comes to eco-friendly living. You typically buy less furniture, less decor, and use less electricity to make yourself at home.

Cons of Living in a Micro-Unit

Despite the financial wins of micro-living, a tiny apartment does have its downsides, depending on your lifestyle preferences.

1. The Location Comes at a Cost

Micro-apartments can still come with a hefty price tag in some cities. A Manhattan micro-apartment may be a few hundred dollars less than a studio, but that still means a $2,000 to $3,000 price tag.

Micro-units may be more affordable than their studio counterparts in most cities. However, they’re not exactly known as a hallmark for affordable housing. 

2. The Lack of Space

The other issue is space. Sure, living in a micro-apartment means less stuff to buy and less time to spark your inner joy by tidying up. 

However, it can also feel too small for some urbanites. If you really love spreading out and having separate spaces for sleeping and lounging, micro-living might be tough.

3. Difficult to Have Guests Over

It’s also not ideal if you want to regularly entertain friends and enjoy having roommates around. Someone entering a serious relationship with a promising future may also find their micro-apartment is unrealistically small to house a couple. 

4. Less Flexibility

There’s also less flexibility in a micro-unit. That can be good or bad depending on who you ask. 

If you enjoy re-decorating, trying out new furniture, and repurposing space, a small apartment won’t necessarily accommodate those ideals. When it comes to micro-living, your space and options are more rigid and limited.

Micro-Apartment Design Tips

Micro-apartments usually require some creativity to live comfortably. Instead of an oversized sofa, a small apartment requires right-sized furniture. 

  • Skip the couch in favor of a loveseat and oversized armchair. Grab a tray to repurpose the footrest into a coffee table. 
  • Murphy beds that fold out from the wall can be great space-savers. Some units may even come with them.
  • Consider ditching the dining room table in favor of a kitchen bar area.
  • Micro-living may also require a smaller fridge and stove to create a pint-sized, full-service kitchen. Some units will come with kitchenettes rather than full kitchens.
  • Focus on dual-purpose functionality for your furniture and appliances. That’ll keep your home feeling as efficient and spacious as possible.

Who Lives in Micro-Apartments?

Micro-apartments can house a wide variety of ages and demographics. However, they are targeted towards single twenty-somethings and millennials with city jobs. 

Their income levels are often higher than most. Also, people in that demographic are looking for everything urban living has to offer, from pubs and restaurants to museums and parks.

Micro-living is all about lifestyle and convenience. It simply isn’t ideal for everyone. These cozy apartments usually aren’t right for families or anyone struggling to make ends meet.

And due to their small size, micro-apartments aren’t suitable for roommates and long-term visitors who want to crash on your couch indefinitely.

Is a Micro-Apartment For You?

Micro-apartments are a fantastic opportunity for anyone looking to live in the heart of a thriving city center. If your dream city is calling your name, but the rent prices for a one-bedroom are out of reach? Search for some micro-units. They're also perfect if you want more privacy and are ready to leave your roommate days behind you!

By: Justin Chaplin
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