starting over


Are small apartments the new cool?

Because if so, it’s about time. I’ve been uncool for the last two years.

I get a lot of strange looks when I tell people how small my apartment is. In all fairness, I complain about it a lot as well. I whine that the kitchen is tiny, that the appliances are old, that we don’t have enough places to store things and on and on and on. But recently I’ve been seeing more and more posts about how cool small apartments are. Of course, they’re some pretty decked out small apartments, with bathtubs that turn into tables that turn into a bookcase or something crazy like that.

My current place is 330 square feet. It’s in between the ones being shown online (marvel at the 258sf one here, and the 344 one here). From what I can tell in the videos, the only catch is that my place holds two people, instead of one. Now, I’m not saying I’m awesome (there are lots of people who live in even smaller conditions), but I just want to say that it’s completely doable.

My thoughts:

  • Be honest. Don’t take a small space because you want to change the world or feel good about making a difference. That will most likely lead to resentment and possible claustrophobia. Ensure you have a plan when you sign the lease or paper with what you’re going to do, how you will set things up, and what you will sacrifice.
  • Be realistic. It’s okay to look at a large space and dream about the days you can live in your perfect house with a sprawling lawn by the water. But how much space do you really need? What rooms are most utilized in your place? You’d be surprised what you can live without. The most difficult thing for me to let go was my dining room table. I complained that getting rid of it would mean I would never have guests over ever again. But it was true that I never had dinners at our old 1 bdrm apartment either, so it clearly wasn’t the dining room table that was stopping me from having guests. Now I have dinner parties in the common lounge in the building, and it works out just fine.
  • Be focused. Making the commitment to a small apartment takes a lot of effort. The place needs to constantly be clean otherwise it looks like a war zone. Counters need to be cleared because you only have so much room. Clothes need to be put away as soon as the laundry is done. It’s also a great opportunity to throw away things you don’t need. A small space means you have less opportunities to keep junk around. Previously I hid a lot of junk in shoe boxes under the dining table (again, another indication I bought a dining table for no reason). When we moved to the new place, I threw out / donated / sold a lot of randomness that I realized I’d never use. And while it made me sad at the time, I honestly haven’t ever had a need for 3 aprons, 2 santa hats, a gazillion girly thank you cards, and all that other stuff.
  • Layouts are everything. You’ll notice in both those videos that despite the small rooms, they give the illusion of a large space. The most awesome article is for the apartment in Hong Kong, where it shows the previous layouts of the space since 1976. You can see how it went from a really tight space with walls everywhere into a more open multi-purpose room. Ensure your small space doesn’t have a lot of narrow hallways (I guess this goes for any space).

People always look at me funny (and not in a good way funny) when I tell them I live in a small place. And I don’t like it too sometimes. I’m embarrassed to tell people how small my place is, I’m sad I can’t have dinner parties or have people crash on my floor when visiting (well, I’ll let people crash on my floor, but I suspect it’s pretty awkward for them). But I have an end-goal in mind: A and I will move back to Toronto at some point in time, and when that happens, we will have saved enough put a significant down payment on our new home. I have my eye on the prize, and I know that this is worth it. Besides, small places are only small when it’s pointed out (either by yourself or by others). The rest of the time, it’s just another place to live.

One Response to “Are small apartments the new cool?”

  1. May 21st, 2011 at 11:55 am

    steph says:

    wait–you have dinner parties?

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