For apartments, how small is too small?
San Francisco delays a vote on allowing 220-square-foot units. But New York is encouraging smaller dwellings, and many people live with less now.
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When it comes to living spaces, how small is too small?
New York's mayor recently promoted a plan to build 275- to 300-square-foot apartments in the Big Apple.
San Francisco is not so sure. Its Board of Supervisors has delayed a vote on whether to allow apartments as small as 220 square feet – about the size of a big single-car garage.
"Are we saying it is acceptable to box people up in little tiny spaces?" Tommi Avicolli Mecca, from the nonprofit Housing Rights Committee, said to The New York Times. "What standard are we setting here?"
Other opponents say the city needs family-size affordable housing, not "Twitter apartments" for single workers in the high-tech industry.
San Francisco has some of the highest rents in the country. The average rent for a studio apartment of about 500 square feet is $2,075 a month, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. You can see some units listed for rent recently in popular neighborhoods at the Chronicle's "On the Block" blog.
Panoramic Interests, a company in Berkeley, wants to construct a building with 160 of the micro-units, estimating the rents at $1,300 to $1,500 a month. That's considerably more per square foot.
The 220-square-foot apartments would be allowed only in new buildings. Current rules require new apartments to be at least 290 square feet. Proponents of allowing the tiny apartments point out that the city already has apartments that small.
Hugo Gonzalez has lived in a 280-square-foot apartment in a building called Cubix for four years. When that building was constructed in 2008, critics said no one would want apartments that small. But all of the 98 apartments are occupied.
"In December I will be here four years, and I love it," Gonzalez told the Chronicle. "I really had to pare down my life, but I can say that everything in my place has meaning to me. It really does feel like home."
So how small is too small for an apartment?
I live in a 3,000 square foot house. I am getting ready to buy a 35 x 50 foot garage. I rent 800 square foot houses for $600. Something is wrong with this article. If the space is that small they should get a couple hundred a month for it.
In the U.S. we live excessive as compared to most places in the world. The first house I bought when I was in my mid 20's had one small closet in each of the three bedrooms. And, at that time it was enough storage for me and my wife to share the same closet. We've since bought a new house (been in it 10 years) and we (my wife and I) each have our own walk-in closets and large closets in the other rooms. Yet, it doesn't seem to be enough anymore.
I do think that we in the U.S. seem to have a need for excess. But, the size and price of some of these places are just too small. There needs to be a better median.
When i lived in the heart of Waikiki, Hawaii, it was very similar to this size, but Very Old, like it was built in 60s'? , and i paid $1100. The owner increased to $1300, after I left. There was a tiny pool in the premise but i never used it. It was a little bigger than Jacuzzi size. The good thing is that Hawaii is Summer all year around, and we don't need to have a big closet! ha!
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.