Micro Apartments

When I think of where I want to live after I graduate from college, I don’t think: more dorms. I picture a nice, medium-sized apartment a commutable distance from downtown or work, and, wherever I end up living, that I perhaps share with a roommate or two. I know this is idealistic and not necessarily practical, but I can hope, can’t I? I don’t want to end up living with my parents, but I also know that that is an option. After living in a small room on campus for merely half a semester, though, I already know that I want to live somewhere bigger as soon as possible. I’m sure most other students will agree with me: I do not want to live in a micro apartment when I graduate.

Micro apartments have become particularly popular in the last decade. These are apartments roughly 150 square feet to 400 square feet in size, that are designed to be affordable living units for people who want to live in big cities but can’t afford costly normal-sized apartments. They typically have a private bathroom, kitchen facilities and room for a bed. In the past few years, there has been a flock of people — especially young adults — moving to big cities across the country. With already populated cities, this influx of new residents has contributed to the rise of living costs, and many companies are trying to capitalize on this opportunity by building micro apartment complexes.

Micro apartments could ideally be used as homes for homeless people, but so far they’ve mostly been aimed toward housing young, single people. Plus, the cities and companies that are building micro apartment complexes are making them unaffordable for homeless people, who don’t have steady incomes. There has been, however, an increase of “Tiny House” villages over the past years. Portland’s very own Dignity Village, a small, self-run gated community that houses 60 occupants at a time for $35 a month (plus 10 hours of work per week on upkeep), inspired Seattle to create more housing for the homeless population. These Tiny Homes are providing shelter and community across the country to the people who most need it. If only micro apartments, with their greater numbers, could be used as homes for the homeless community.

Some micro apartment communities have been effective and work well for single young adults who spend most of their time outside of their homes and don’t have cars. Others, however, have encountered some problems. There was some controversy in 2013 amongst Seattle’s micro apartment builders, surrounding the size and regulations of the apartments. Eventually, the micro apartments had to be expanded to be a minimum of a 220 square foot floor area, thus the cost of rent increased proportionally. Many micro apartments cost more per square foot per year than normal-sized apartments. They are, however, often the most affordable option for someone if they want to live downtown and not share their space with another person.

But what’s the fun in that? There’s something exciting about the idea of having to scrounge up rent each month, sharing a full-sized apartment with a friend or stranger or two, learning how to cook on your own personal stove and, you know, being able to stretch your legs out and not hit the other wall with your feet… It’s fun to accumulate trinkets and souvenirs from outings with your friends and have a place to keep it all when you get home. With micro apartments, there’s hardly any space for anything extra. Who wants to move into another dorm after graduating from college? I find my room to be too small already, and I only use it for sleeping and doing homework. Micro apartments shouldn’t be focused on profiting from housing as many people as possible, moving young adults from dorms in college to dorms in the real world. They should be used to actually help people who can’t afford any other type of home — the homeless.

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