Micro Studios and Apartments: Living Small, 300 Square Feet and Under

From New York to Austin and from Paris to Seattle, micro studios of all styles—and sizes, generally 300 square feet and under, are where some are now calling home.

Want a tour inside a micro studio apartment? Wonder if you could really live in one? Want to feel better about—or learn to make better use of—the square footage of your home? Here, we’ve rounded up some of the most detailed videos that give the inside scoop on micro studio space and space-saving techniques, décor, and lifestyle.

1) Where: Manhattan, NY | Size: 90 SQ FT

Fun Fact: “There’s no kitchen…but in New York City, most people store their laundry in their stoves anyway.”

2) Where: Austin, TX | Size: 300 SQ FT

Advice: “Keep the floor plan flexible!” “With the right attitude, even a tiny space could be where you belong.”

3) Where: Seattle, WA | Size: 182 SQ FT

Fun Facts: This space is designed to fit two beds, has an expanding dinner table that seats six, and has fit up to 17 people at one time.

4) Where: San Francisco, CA | Size: 295 SQ FT

Advice: “…make every square inch count…less stuff, more experience!” “This is not for a person who spends all of [their] time at home. This is not for a collector. This is not for a family of four. It’s obviously not for everyone.”

5) Where: Paris, France | Size: 129 SQ FT

Advice: “…create useful space without blocking visual space, the light.” “In Paris, people really live outside, not many people come in their homes, and they’re OK with” minimal space at home.

6) Where: London, England | Size: 81 SQ FT

Fun Facts: The apartment is a converted changing and storage room and is valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In the United States, houses are downsizing by number of people, and, it appears, by square footage as well, according to United States Census Bureau data.

The number of people per household is on the decline:

  • the average in 1970: 3.1
  • the average in 2012: 2.6

The average number of single-person households is on the incline:

  • in 1970: 17%
  • in 2012: 27%

Census figures on median and average square feet of floor area in new housing construction projects indicate that while housing square footage was steadily rising from the early 1970s to the early 2000s—it may have peaked in the mid-2000s, and is now on a downtrend. And cities and developers are acting to accommodate these new lifestyles by creating new housing options catered specifically to those seeking micro units. For one, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg initiated a competition while in office to develop affordable micro-unit apartment complexes in the city.

The winning pilot: “My Micro NY,” with units slated to be available to rent in fall 2015, will have studios between 250 and 370 square feet with common space amenities including a rooftop garden, lounges, laundry facilities, storage and bike rooms, and a gym. According to the New York City Housing Development Corporation’s “Housing New York, a Five-Borough, Ten-Year Plan,” there’s a demand for studios, but the units only make up seven percent of housing inventory. Vancouver is home to a suite of “micro-lofts,” ranging in size from 226 to 291 square feet, San Francisco developed 23 micro units, ranging from 285 to 310 square feet, and Portland has developments with studios under 200 square feet.

Cover photo courtesy of Dale Calder.