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Whether it’s a friend, family member, or online forum, a lot of people are hearing stories about the advantages of living in a tiny apartment community and asking themselves the question: Is tiny apartment living right for them? We wanted to help people answer this question, no matter what the right answer is for them. Yet, before you can begin to know the right answer for yourself, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what tiny apartment living is.


What is Tiny Apartment Living?

More than just sharing a studio apartment with a roommate out of economic necessity, tiny apartment living is about smart building design, shared communities of like-minded households, as well as a choice that’s driven by dollars and centers. Put another way, the tiny apartment isn’t a gimmicky lifestyle so much as an economic trade-off. You can find a luxury downtown apartment experience with reasonable rent, if only you’re willing to give up that extra bedroom, common seating area, and your parking spot. Instead, you can entertain guests in one of the apartment community’s lounge areas. That said, we’ve discovered this basic trade-off also comes with a handful of more subtle wrinkles.


Closetbox Storage and Tiny Apartment Living

When Closetbox first started offering full-service storage for about the same price as self-storage, we knew many of our customers were likely to be downtown residents and apartment dwellers. We also knew that high-density, micro-unit apartments were a trending segment of the larger apartment rental market. What we didn’t know then was just how thriving—but also how complex and varied—the tiny apartment movement had become. Here are some of the general themes, as well as notable city-by-city examples, that we found for tiny apartment living. Take a look at these stories and information to get more perspective on making this decision for yourself:


1. Are You Finally Ready to Ditch the Car?

Ready to make the plunge? Along with kitchens that are too small for an oven, this new tiny apartment community in downtown Miami will have offer bike storage in lieu of car parking. And this is becoming more of the rule than the exception for new tiny apartment communities. Without a doubt, ditching the car is one of the most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint, and everything about these communities is set up to make this lifestyle a more viable choice.

The sans parking design of the apartment building is also one of the key ways that real estate developers get their buildings through the zoning board and city planning departments. As much as many cities want to be able to increase their available housing—especially in their trendy downtown neighborhoods—they’re also cognizant of the increased traffic congestion that tends to come with it. Looking for effective ways to increase participation rate in their public transportation systems, many new apartment buildings without parking are the result of a collaboration between local government and the private sector to build and promote healthier urban communities overall. Studies that show high-density apartments do not negatively affect property values have also helped.


2. Know Your City, Know Your Neighborhood, Know Yourself

More than embracing a uniform lifestyle, tiny apartments emphasize living in the local neighborhood and common resident areas as much as the unit itself. To this point, tiny apartments are full of people who are anything but die-hard minimalists. What’s more, the economics of these micro floor plans has proved effective even in markets that aren’t notorious for their sky-high rents. Whereas NYC averages $2,250 and San Francisco is at $1,640, you can find a 500-square foot apartment in Dallas—already one of the most affordable cities to live in the U.S.—for less than $500/month.

What truly matters is being open to the idea of tiny apartment living and wanting to live—and be able to afford to live—in a particular neighborhood, in your favorite city. West Seattle. Downtown/Midtown Atlanta. The Mission District in San Francisco. Midtown Manhattan. The list of trendy neighborhoods attracting their own micro-apartment communities is growing with each passing year. If you want to know if tiny apartment living is right for you, you first have to know your city, your neighborhood, and yourself.


3. Go on an Adventure or Lifestyle Experiment

Many apartment communities have leases available as short as six months, but even a 12-month lease is often not too large a commitment for many different types of folks. A tiny apartment and downtown living can be an amazing experience for the young and single professional, individuals who are serious about embracing a minimalist lifestyle, and newlyweds who want to go on an extended honeymoon and/or save for a down payment.

There’s plenty of fun to have in this type of adventure and plenty to learn about yourself from this lifestyle experiment. In just a couple of the myriad possibilities, Mary Schmich says, “Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.” Likewise, it’s not uncommon to discover that tiny apartment living is not for you long-term, while still cherishing the time in which you made it work. Better yet, you can have these experiences without going broke in the process.


4. Look to Embrace the Life and the Love of Tiny Apartment Living

Even if you already fancy yourself something of a minimalist, the odds are still overwhelming that something about the apartment community is going to annoy you. That’s because own or rent, apartment, condo, or single-family home, no place has it all. Maybe it’s not the overall size that gets on your nerves, but a particularly obtrusive corner or an elevator that doesn’t move fast enough or a favorite restaurant on the corner that goes out of business.

That said, the upside of the living experience can absolutely live up to its promise. Let off steam about the minor inconveniences, but don’t let it keep you from embracing the amazing city and the amazing life all around you. Even after the initial honeymoon, there are more stories out there from people like this who live in these tiny spaces for an extended period of time without regret.


5. Start Off on the Right Foot with a Pro Organizer

One useful and frequently underrated way to make the transition into a tiny apartment is to hire a professional organizer. This professional can help you find the right balance between paring down your collection of belongings, making the most of what space is provided in your apartment unit, and figuring out what to do with the rest—including those items that may best kept in a secure and climate-controlled facility like Closetbox. Wondering what else you might expect from these professional organizers? Don’t miss these pro tips and services for clutter, minimalism, and better living habits overall.