For most people, confined spaces were restricted to a shared apartment or dormitory experience during their college years or during that brief period when first moving into an urban area that has few and expensive living options. With the demand for living in or near the city constantly on the rise, there has been a considerable increase in efficient living options such as micro-unit apartments due to the limited availability of land that can be developed. Here is what you need to know about this unit type to help you make an informed decision on whether you should go for them.
What is a micro-unit apartment? A micro-unit apartment is a type of rental living space that typically ranges from 400 square feet down to a minimum of 200 square feet in size. They generally comprise of a one-room living space which is designed to accommodate a living room area, a kitchenette, a bed, a bathroom, and limited storage space.
Many micro-unit apartment buildings feature amenities such as recreation areas and gardens that the residents can access with ease. In urban areas, these small sized apartments can prove to beneficial to both the renter and the developer. Although they are generally more expensive to construct in terms of cost-per-square-foot calculation, with the inclusion of a bathroom and a kitchenette in a small space, the additional rental income adequately offsets the construction costs. Renters benefit from living in micro units due to the relatively lower monthly rent and utility costs, as well as easier access to public transit and proximity to their places of work or study.
Aspects of micro-unit apartments
1. The basics of micro-unit apartments
Micro unit apartments are generally smaller in size then studio apartments, and although they might sound cramped, they have been lauded as a solution to the housing crisis in urban areas. The interior of these units includes a living room area where you can fit a small seating area and a kitchenette that may or may not include appliances such as a refrigerator, a cooker, and even a dishwasher in some units. Depending on how big the micro unit is, you can also create a sleeping area in a corner of the room, although it is not uncommon to find occupants using the living area as a “bedroom” as well.
2. The compact layout of these unit types
Micro units are known for their compact design. These apartments employ an open layout that makes them seem bigger than they actually are, and with the incorporation of new technology and design strategies, these tiny spaces have become viable living options. Micro units are typically designed with high ceilings so that they seem bigger than they actually are, and they often feature built-in and retractable furniture and small-sized or hidden appliances to save on space.
3. The amenities and services that may be included
Many micro unit apartment buildings make up for the limited space in their units by incorporating desirable amenities where residents can escape from their somewhat cramped homes. Some of the amenities that you might find in common areas include rooftop decks, patios, and garden spaces. To appeal to prospective tenants, micro units in some areas in some locations may also include cleaning and maintenance services for an extra cost.
4. The target audience for micro-unit apartments
Micro unit apartments are favored by young professionals who work in the city. These residents are usually willing to give up a spacious apartment for a convenient and vibrant location. they also tend to live alone and are yet to accumulate many belongings. These young renters are capable of affording the moderately high rent costs and they prefer to spend a major portion of their time working or socializing outside their tiny unit.
As you might have guessed, these apartments are spacious enough for families, and even the young renters generally stay for a short period of time before moving to more spacious units. Depending on how small they are, micro units may also suit couples who don’t mind constantly being in each other’s space, but they are not as great for those who live with a roommate or two.
5. Where you can expect to find micro-units
Since they are a space-saving solution, you can expect to find micro unit apartments in almost all major cities. While small apartments are not a new concept in urban areas, this new wave of apartments is intentionally designed and built to be compact.
0ne of the locations where you will find these deliberately designed micro unit apartments in New York. A great example is Carmel Place, which is a complex in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan that comprises of 55 micro unit apartments. The units vary in size, ranging from 250 to 360 square feet each. All the units in the complex comprise of high ceilings, tall sliding windows, and Juliette balconies. Amenities found in the building are as follows:
- A spacious lobby
- Multiple lounges and community rooms where residents can unwind
- A gym
- A roof deck
- Storage space for each unit
There is also a community manager who lives in the building and plans barbecues and other social events. A majority of the units command upwards of $2,500 per month, and they include services such as Wi-Fi and cable, as well as a butler service. One Santa Fe is an apartment complex in Los Angeles that rents 474 square foot studios which are rented out for $1,975 per month.
6. Investing in micro-unit apartments
If micro units are cropping up in your city, should you seize the opportunity to purchase and rent one or does their niche appeal make them a risky investment?
While micro unit apartments are not for everyone, they are particularly popular with young professionals living in the city. Thanks to the higher occupancy rates and rental rates of micro unit apartments, the potential pay-off of owning these unit types can be enormous. However, keep in mind that there is a lot of competition in this venture, so your units have to include outstanding features that will attract tenants.
Pros of micro-unit apartment
Here are the upsides of renting a micro unit apartment.
- Many of them feature a variety of amenities and services – Many micro unit apartments feature appealing amenities and services that are meant to appeal to prospective tenants who might be hesitant to rent these units due to their small size. Some of these additional features may cost extra, so ensure that you inquire about these aspects before moving in.
- They are easier to rent out than bigger apartments – Micro unit apartments are generally easier to rent out in cities than larger apartments since they are in higher demand than their counterparts. As an investor, they are a great option since you are likely to attract customers more easily than if you opt to invest in larger and more expensive units.
- Cheaper rent and utilities – Depending on their location, micro unit apartments are generally cheaper than larger units. Furthermore, the utilities in these units are also more affordable due to the small size, which means that you will use far less electricity to heat, cool, and light your apartment.
- They are easy to clean – Micro unit apartments are easier to clean since you only have to deal with one main room that is not particularly big and a bathroom. With not much square footage to cover, cleaning your home shouldn’t take too long.
- Usually found in prime locations – You are most likely to find micro unit apartments within or near a city. They are a great option for tenants who work in urban areas and want to make their commute significantly easier as well as for those who want to live close to amenities such as grocery stores, schools, hospitals and many more.
- You are less likely to accumulate clutter – Since micro unit spaces are small, you have no option but to eliminate clutter in your home. As a result, you end up with a clean and unit living space.
- You are likely to adopt an outgoing lifestyle – Living in such a small space encourages you to adopt a more social and outgoing lifestyle. This gives you an opportunity to discover spots of interest in your city.
Cons of micro-unit apartments
It is important to take into consideration the downsides of micro unit living as well.
- May feel a little too claustrophobic for some – Due to their small size, micro unit apartments may feel cramped and limiting for some. If you are claustrophobic or you simply prefer spacious units, then these compact apartments are not for you.
- They are not suitable for roommates or families – Micro unit apartments are simply too small to accommodate several people at a time. Unless you are living with your significant other, you are better off living alone in a micro unit.
- Limited storage space – You may be forced to rent a storage unit where you can keep some of your belongings when you live in a micro unit apartment due to the limited space.
- You can’t have too many people over – If you like holding dinner parties or having friends and family over, then living in a micro unit apartment may prove to be too restricting for you due to its small size
- Rental rates may be higher than you expect – Despite their size, micro unit apartments are not as affordable as you might expect. They are generally expensive per square meter, and in some locations, you may find that micro unit apartments are just as expensive as studio apartments.
Living in a micro-unit apartment might be the option for you if you are focused on your career and single, or you simply don’t spend too much time at home anyway. The micro-unit apartment trend is only projected to get bigger and bigger, so as an investor, this could be a potentially lucrative venture. However, it is always important to do as much research as possible before settling on any unit type, and micro-unit apartments are no different.