By Mary Boone
New York City has been in the news lately for taking its first steps into the micro apartment market. City planners sponsored a competition to design 250- to 370-square-foot units for its pilot project. If the program is successful, New York could overturn a requirement that all new apartments be at least 400 square feet.
Meanwhile, Seattleites have been living small – really, really small – for a half-dozen years already.
The Emerald City’s first modern micro-apartments, known as “aPodments” were built on Capitol Hill in 2008. Since then, developers, including Seattle’s Calhoun Properties and Bellevue-based Kauri Investments, have constructed a handful of micro-apartment complexes. Most prevalent on Capitol Hill and near the U-District, developers are working to bring their tiny living spaces to Seattle’s Eastlake and Central District.
How small is small? Some of the Seattle units are a minuscule 90 square feet and feature shared kitchen spaces. Larger units – upward of 200 square feet – also are available. Rents range from $440 to $950 per month, depending upon location, unit size and amenities.
Developers say the goal behind offering tiny apartments throughout the city is to provide affordable options for young singles, cash-poor and empty nesters who often are edged out of an increasingly expensive rental market.
According to real estate site Zillow, Seattle’s median rent list price is now $1,480, up 9.3 percent from a year ago. Of course, some Seattle neighborhoods boast higher rents than others. For example, the median rent list prices for Portage Bay, Windermere and Laurelhurst, are $2,724, $2,845 and $3,330 respectively.
In addition to lower rents, small living requires less energy and less electricity. It is often located in high-density areas, within walking distance of stores, gyms and public transit stops, and encourages a simplified lifestyle because storage is at such a premium.