Micro-units, self-contained apartments measuring between 150 and 500 square feet, are springing up in urban centers of cities like Dallas, New York, and Seattle. Here is some information to help you understand what classifies as a micro apartment, why micro apartments are growing in popularity, and whether a micro unit is for you.


What is a micro apartment unit?

Several definitions for the micro apartment can be found online. They vary slightly, but more or less all stipulate that a micro unit must:

  • Be small (in some markets, no larger than 250 square feet; in others, up to 500)
  • Be a single room (+ a bathroom)
  • Not have a full kitchen
  • Provide access to a full community kitchen and other communal space


What’s driving the micro unit movement?

For most millennials, the dream of homeownership has fallen to the wayside. Members of this much talked about generation are increasingly demonstrating that they value experiences over things. They would rather live close to the cultural opportunities a city provides than have space to collect and store belongings. Whereas a baby boomer might look at a 250 square foot space without a full kitchen or even a single bedroom as “no apartment,” a millennial might see it as a perfectly suitable space to call home for the next several years. With urban land selling and renting at high prices, micro apartment units present an affordable downtown living option.


Can a micro apartment be livable?

This, as illuminated in the example of the millennial and baby boomer above, is a matter of perspective. Micro units are small, but encourage residents to spend time in community spaces and outside of the apartment as well. Provided a resident does little more than decompress and sleep in his or her unit, concerns about adverse psychological effects seem unwarranted. A well-designed, well-laid out micro unit, viewed in the context of the community to which it belongs, can provide an urban dweller with everything he or she needs to live a vibrant home life.


Another point to consider when trying to answer this question is the extent to which micro units vary. In Dallas, where space is less of an issue than it is in New York City or San Francisco, micro apartment tend to be closer to 500 square feet than 150 square feet. While unable to satisfy some definitions of the micro unit, these apartments sometimes have a separate bedroom.


With urban space at a premium and demand for prime city living space high, micro apartments are a logical addition to the rental options apartment dwellers have. If you own, manage, or develop multifamily residential properties and are eyeing prime real estate that’s too small to construct many full-size apartments, consider the micro apartment model.



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