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According to Harvard Magazine, micro units typically are viewed as having originated in Tokyo and Paris, where residents tried to make their living quarters in ever decreasing amounts of personal space. The trend has recently been gaining traction among American cities too.
The growth has been in response to the economics of rising rents and compact living. The trend has been generating considerable debate among city designers as well as the local residents themselves. While some people eagerly anticipate the potential that this style of housing has to offers, others fear the unintended repercussions.
What is a micro unit?
According to the International Making Cities Livable LLC website, each of these units runs between 200 and 300 square feet, although in Tokyo and some European cities smaller ones have been recorded. With such a small square footage, most units are outfitted with a bed, sofa, refrigerator, and miniature kitchen unit in a single area.
The units are often marketed to those who are looking to live in the major city without having to pay the rapidly growing rents. The smaller units offer lower prices along with their tiny quarters.
What are the benefits of the micro apartment?
Developers and residents alike are taking to the trend of small living quarters because of the capacity to fit more people into the area and lower rents. In San Francisco, for example, the increasing number of tech workers moving into the area has sent rent prices higher and higher.
The micro unit offers these new workers the chance to live in the city, where they have access to their community through biking and mass transportation, without having to pay the enormous rents. There are also superficial benefits for people who are not spending excessive time in their apartments.
The small apartments will not cost as much in utilities and are more conducive to a simpler lifestyle. They are often marketed to attract young, creative people who can help reinvigorate the local economy.
What do people fear about micro units?
Despite the enthusiasm for the miniature apartments in many quarters and the quickly growing popularity in a variety of worldwide cities, they still cause considerable concern in the minds of many.
Residents who live near where the new apartments are being designed often fear the potential crowding issues. This would include worries about parking spaces, noise, and related problems that arise with a high population density.
Another common concern comes from those involved in housing rights. There is a worry that this will set a precedent of cramping people into the smallest quarters possible. Without standards concerning the living provided in the miniature apartments, it could lead to a lower quality of life for those who struggle to afford rent on full sized apartments.
Micro units are rapidly springing up in cities around the world, and now they have spread to the United States as well. Questions remain about the future of the trend as developers and residents alike continue to debate the merits of these tiny apartments. How small they will go and how popular they will become remains to be seen.