The pleasures and sorrows of micro-apartment living


I used to own a 3000 sq ft home, I basically lived in 500 of the sq ft. Moral of the story is that you don't need all that space, it just gets sold to you.


My girlfriend and I both like the idea of living in a smaller space. We've both been seeing lots of tiny house projects popping up online and even locally.

There are a few things that I'm not sure would work well with the whole tiny apartment / boat / mobile house thing though. My main concern is storage for projects. I'm getting into electronics ( Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc ) and metalworking ( mostly blacksmithing ). She's into sewing and crafty type stuff. None of these are exactly tiny hobbies. Sure, there's a hackspace ( VHS ) and a makespace ( Vancouver Community Lab ) in Vancouver, but they're not exactly close -- getting to either via transit is a 1+ hour prospect and I'm not sure we could afford to move closer ( Vancouver is the most expensive city in North America, woo? ).

We'd probably also have to wait a bit until we're either both working in the same area ( our 1+ hour commutes are currently in opposite directions ) or until one or both of us is working remotely for the tiny house thing to work. I think it's because having to deal with loud, annoying workplaces ( and coworkers, heyo ) and long commutes requires more space for us -- we need some time and space in order to decompress after we get home so we're human again. Working in the same area means we could look into carpooling options, while working from home means no decompression needed.


I experienced something like this while living in Taiwan for two years with my wife in the late '80s.

We spent a few weekends in the Chungking Mansions in Hong Kong (technically Kowloon). The "Mansions" are renowned for being a cheap place to crash, and notorious for being crowded, rundown, dirty and a firetrap. They exterior has apparently been refurbished in the intervening years - it used to look like something out of Blade Runner.

We spent a couple of months in a residential hotel in Taipei that was a bare notch above the rooms in the Hong Kong video, before moving to a fairly nice illegal rooftop apartment that we shared with another couple.


I have weird OCD-ish mental tics. One of these is imagining designs for modern-day SRO hotels, and mobile home parks that would appeal to more than people needing to live as cheaply as possible.

The latter, I imagine, could really use a couple of community-use Great Rooms that residents could sign up for to hold parties and dinners in. I imagine the management would have to ask for a deposit and cleaning fee.

In fact, come to think of it: My old apartment complex had a club room and a meeting room. I didn't know the terms. Interestingly, about 80% of the functions I saw there involved Indian families.


One of my "If I ever won Powerball (unlikely since I never buy tickets for it)" dream projects would be a subsidized modern-day SRO for homeless vets. A "housing first" deal, designed to get guys off the street.

A micro-apartment makes sense for this kind of thing. Room for one person who is unlikely to need piles of kipple. Easy to clean pre-fab kitchen and bath. Sturdy dorm-style furniture included in the rent.


They still offer locker rentals at the bus station, right?


These micro-apartments definitely appeal to the Tiny House lover in me. I think we don't see how much of a trap a large living space can be until we downscale dramatically, at which point, the liberating freedom from "things" can suddenly become quite apparent. I once took a tour of a lovely small Frank Lloyd Wright house in Virginia and I was delighted to learn that the late owner felt the smallness of the house forced her to make choices about what was important in her life -- and thus made her a better person.

On the other hand.

These tiny spaces facilitate the ongoing rigging of our world, the systemic theft of real wealth and value from almost everyone except the miniscule percentage at the top. Offer us a tiny place to live and we're less likely to protest all that's been taken from us (and we also become less expensive to the system than a homeless person). There is no such thing as a free market. The poor and desperate will always prefer a cubicle to a park bench, but once we decide the mega-wealthy can set the terms for the living conditions of their tenants, all bets are off.

One can foresee a future when all of us will be grateful for a space in a dormitory bunkbed for a mere $300 a month. Beautifully-designed tiny houses are a delicious idea, but they remain a wet dream for downscaling affluents. For poor people around the world, tiny, filthy, shitty spaces are all they ever get.


If no-one is going hungry and the tiny houses are warm and comfortable; come with good communal facilities and public spaces that generate a sense of community; easy access to education, healthcare and a social safety net; and space and opportunity to do some leisure or hobby things, then bring it on.

Maybe if wealth could be more equally distributed, people like this homeless guy would have the opportunity to teach the currently super rich a bit of humanity?


.. you're almost certainly right. That's what the 300 billionaires who have more resources than the bottom 3 000 000 000 are no doubt lining us all up for. angry


Just pointing out that you can buy a good grave site for 5000 bucks.


Please elaborate? The picture that's popping up in my head may not be the one you intended ...


Its land, isn't it? Surrounded by open park land. Very quiet at night. Often well equipped with public toilets and cafe's. A bit of engineering work and you have a small home which will fit into a volume of 2000 by 2000 by 1000 mm.


Ah. Bit lacking in community though ... :laughing:


Some people would be willing to pay extra for such quiet neighbors. smile


I think that room renting also used to be more common.

I have not seen any reliable evidence, but movies from the 40's certainly give me the impression that a lot more older couples in big houses were renting out rooms back then than today.



Urgh. Did that for 3 years after graduating. That was enough for me.

For one year we had a decent bunch of people, then the landlord rented rooms to some dreadful tenants (i.e. thieves) and everyone nice ran away.

Anyone ever read this?


I'm way too much of an introvert. The mere mention of "communal space" gives me the internal sweats. My first apartment was 400 sq feet and I dreaded the weekly trips to the laundry room.
And there were a few times when I really didn't enjoy sharing a bedroom wall with the neighbors.


This is the deck plan of my first home after leaving school - most of the beds were bunks, so we had 25 people living in the area shown (the crossed out areas were holds for storage). It helped that we had weekly inspections and had to limit our belongings, but the only privacy you got was when you closed the curtain to your bunk. At one point one of my cabinmates stopped taking his meds and went from quiet and introverted to convinced he was Jesus with a mission to kill another of our cabinmates (seriously), which made life interesting for the couple of days until his father came to take him home.


Very true. I have happily lived in a 400 square foot apartment for a decade. But as I get older I want to be able to entertain more at home, make more things, collect art - and none of these things are possible in my current space.

However, my mother who is 75 is happy to downsize - so I think that the space "needed" varies very much with your current interests, goals, and social life.

I will never understand people who think they "need" 5,000 square feet for a couple and one or two small kids - but to each their own.


Honestly sharing a bedroom wall is the worst. Along with windows from different dwellings pointing straight at each other.


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