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Living in Small Spaces: Is Micro-Living Right for You?

Mandy Edwards - Friday, April 27, 2018


We’ve all heard about the current trend regarding ‘tiny houses’ by now. Well, tiny apartments have been a part of the urban living environment forever. Ask anyone who has ever tried to live in Manhattan for a reasonable rental cost! 

It turns out that small space living (also known as ‘micro-living’) is actually a feature of the rental market in many urban areas and may be something you wish to consider for yourself. 

Here are some pointers to help you decide if ‘micro living’ is right for you:

Know Your ‘Why’
Living in a small space is certainly not for everyone. So if you plan to give it a go, you should understand the ‘why’ of what you’re considering. One very important aspect is, of course, cost. In many places, ‘micro-apartment’ rental rates are in the $4 per square foot range. Sounds great, right? 

Also, smaller living means a smaller carbon footprint since you use fewer resources to heat and cool your space. Living in a small space necessarily calls for a simplified lifestyle as well since less space means a lot less room for extra ‘stuff.’

Advantages of Living Small
A small space requires less expense for utilities, plus it requires you to be more conscious when you're shopping. So heading home with that new Ikea bureau will probably not be a wise investment for a small space, but the well thought-out wall unit might be! 

Micro-living will cause you to consider the aspect of space in every part of your life. If you’re an introvert or loner, for example, then living in a small space may seem like the perfect option for you. On the other hand, the micro-living lifestyle might make you feel claustrophobic and you’ll feel like spending more time outside of your apartment than in it...which is usually a good thing for nearly all of us.

Disadvantages of Living Small
Micro-living often necessitates a complete change in lifestyle and downsizing can pose a challenge. With such limited space, one must be conscious of every item that goes into it. For example, your regular furniture may not fit within the smaller space. And, if you’re trying to save money, then buying new ‘micro-furniture’ may not be in your budget. As well, entertaining at home is obviously going to be difficult - if not impossible - when living in small spaces. 

What’s In It For You?
Many rental properties with small living spaces offer amenities to make up for the fact that your personal space is limited. For example, they may provide communal areas, such as lounges, and work-out rooms. The properties may also feature creative designs for their small living spaces, such as using high ceilings and windows as a way of creating a more spacious feel. And finally, they may add built-in storage, which also makes a creative use of space. 

Making The Move
Your decision to ‘live small’ will impact every part of your life, but mostly it will make you think (perhaps re-think) about your belongings. If you’re just starting out, maybe as a recent high school or college graduate or student, for example, then micro-living may work out perfectly for you! But if you’re trying to simplify your life, then paying to store all your stuff just adds to your monthly expenses. Keep in mind that the ‘small living’ lifestyle means making big choices about which possessions you really need. 


The lifestyle choices of micro-living are significant. However, there are several positive aspects including a generally lower cost of living, a lighter environmental impact, the opportunity to live in hip urban neighborhoods, and/or enjoying a bit of simplicity in your life. If any - or all - these things appeal to you, then you just might be ready for living small!

Related Resource

Realtor.com How Small Are Micro-Apartments? A Primer on Living With Limited Square Footage 


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