Microapartments 101: Everything You Need to Know

Bigger is not better, at least when it comes to the latest global real estate trend known as the microapartment. A microapartment (also spelled micro-apartment) is one of the trending real estate properties in big cities. You can think of it as the equivalent of the tiny home craze trend.

This residential property is small, self-contained, single-occupancy, and often furnished. It is typically about half the size of an average one-bedroom apartment or as small as a hotel room, measuring 14 to 32 square meters. This type of apartment is private, unlike pods, dormitories, and bedspaces. Microapartments are also called micro flats, micro lofts, and aPodments. 

Inside a microapartment, you can often find a living space, sleeping space, bathroom, and kitchenette. Microapartments may be tiny but never fall short in efficiency, comfort, and aesthetics. You can create an illusion of space by properly utilizing space-saving elements.

Living in small spaces or micro-living is becoming increasingly popular because it is cost-efficient and gives more opportunities to accommodate housing in large cities where housing is expensive and high in demand.

New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, London, and Berlin are just some cities and countries where micro-apartment living is popular.

What is Driving the Growth of Microapartments?

Interior of a small apartment kitchen

Different trends are happening now that push the growth in demand for microapartments. Here are some of them:

  1. Studies show that by 2050, around 68 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas. 
  2. Land values and construction costs in cities are rising. Shifting to smaller, higher-density apartments is more cost-efficient and generates more revenue per square foot.
  3. With plenty of opportunities in big cities, more and more people are willing to sacrifice the number of square meters in their living space to live in the right location with fewer costs.
  4. Household sizes are shrinking. More people are living by themselves, including students, employees, and retirees, so the demand for smaller homes is increasing.
  5. People live busy lifestyles and often spend long hours outside for work and social activities. The house becomes simply a place to rest, refresh, and keep one’s possessions.
  6. The newer generations are more into functional living, promoting ethical and financial options that reduce consumption. 

The Worthiness of Micro-apartments as Real Estate Investments

For real estate investors, the question now is, are micro-apartments worthwhile real estate investment worth investing in now? The simple answer is yes. Why?

Speaker Paolo Giovanni “Gino” Olivares, President of the Organization of Socialized and Economic Housing Developers of the Philippines, Inc. (OSHDP) and Ecoverde Homes Corporation, shares amazing insights regarding this topic during Lamudi’s The Outlook 2022: Philippine Real Estate Conference held in August 2022 at Shangri-La The Fort.

He explains: “In the long run, it [micro-apartments] will be [a] really good investment…the value of real estate never decreases whether big or small. A homeowner will always earn [a] respectable return at this point in time.” Olivares adds, “It’s not a battle of who owns a large property now; it’s now a battle of efficiency and effectiveness, aesthetic and functional even with a limited space.

As Metro Manila and other nearby cities are seeing an increase in housing demand because of career opportunities, the demand for micro-apartments is sure to soar. So investing or constructing one is a worthwhile investment that will give you rewarding profits.

The Pros and Cons of Living in a Microapartment Living

Sample interior of a microapartment in the Philippines

Before moving your things into a micro-apartment that you think suits you best, it would be best to determine first if living in a microapartment is a good fit for you. Here’s a list of pros and cons of microapartments to help you make the right decision:

Pros

  • Affordable: The monthly rental fee of a microapartment is often 20 to 30 percent less than a traditional apartment. Aside from rent, utility costs are more affordable too.
  • Communal amenities: Microapartments may feature amenities you can share with your neighbors, including pools, gyms, game rooms, laundry facilities, and on-site security.
  • Fosters community: Micro-apartment buildings often have built-in communal living spaces such as shared kitchens, gathering spaces, and workspaces. So even if you live solo, you can meet new people.
  • Lesser time to clean and maintain: Due to its small size, a micro-apartment is easier to clean and maintain than a bigger living space.
  • Desirable location: Microapartments are often found in expensive cities, so living in one allows you to land a spot in a city of your choice, especially if the area is highly-dense or out of your budget.
  • More privacy: Microapartments are perfect for a solo occupant if you want to experience independent living.
  • Smaller footprint: Micro-living allows you to use fewer resources and create less waste, also promoting the efficient use of infrastructures in cities which means more land preservation.

Cons

  • Minimal living space and storage: Since microapartments are small, there’s not much room to move around and keep many belongings.
  • No full kitchens: If you love to cook, do not expect to have a full kitchen in your microapartment because you cannot fit a large stove, range, and a full-sized refrigerator in your space. 
  • Not suitable for couples: A microapartment is designed to be occupied by a solo individual so if you plan on living in one with a housemate, expect the space to be too cramped for the two of you.
  • No-pet policies or strict limits on pets: Due to its size, your microapartment landlord may not allow you to keep or have big pets in your unit. Instead of having a dog, you might want to consider a smaller pet to keep you company. 
  • You can feel lonely: Micro-living can be pretty lonely because unless you dine out, simple activities like house chores, cooking, and eating are done alone.
  • Costly to furnish: If you stay in an unfurnished microapartment, it might be costly to purchase or to make specialized furniture that is foldable or compact, which is perfect for small spaces.
  • Rent is not always cheaper than the average apartment: Even if a micro-apartment is smaller than the average apartment, communal features and other unit enhancements can increase your monthly rent.

Adapting to Micro Living

The price tag of micro-apartments is attractive since you can live in a big city full of opportunities for less. However, it is important to know what you’re getting into before committing to micro-living. Here are some things you need to to to make micro-living work for you:

Downsize Your Belongings

Before moving into your microapartment, limit what you will bring into your new home because you can only fit so much in your space. You may donate, recycle, or throw away items you no longer have use for. Constantly declutter your place and rearrange the items in your home so they will look fresh in your eyes.

Be Innovative and Strategic in Using Space

Creativity is important when living in a microapartment. Knowing how to properly layout your space is essential to have a natural traffic flow inside your rental home. You can also take advantage of your unit’s outdoor space, such as decks, balconies, and patios, so you have more roaming space.

Invest in Furniture Items With Built-in Storage

Clutter can make your small room appear smaller. Instead of displaying all there is to show in your apartment, take advantage of compact storage furniture to store away your items to make your space look tidy and clean. You can also choose pieces that are multifunctional such as ottomans with storage. 

To find out what to expect when you live in a microapartment, you can also interview your friends and family who have tried living in one. You can also talk to your neighbors living in the same micro-apartment building as you.

Micro-Apartments in the Philippines

Interior of a microapartment unit in the Philippines

The existence of microapartments in the Philippines now is not yet felt. However, there are a few apartment projects that somehow resemble micro-apartment, such as MyTown London and MyTown New York, located in Makati. These apartment buildings offer a fully-furnished private queen room with a customized bed frame, air conditioning unit, full-length mirror, ample closet space, functional kitchenette, personal refrigerator, and microwave. This is perfect for solo individuals who prefer to live independently, without roommates. 

As more people are driven to live in the metro and other key cities in the Philippines that promise outstanding career opportunities, the demand for accommodations in these places will increase. In a matter of months or years, microapartments are sure to mushroom in different parts of these cities. Soon, it may be one of the trendiest and most favored accommodations by individuals, especially employees and students in the country. Will you be one of them?

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