Street Cents
5:00 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Seattle apartments: small is beautiful

Is the active street life in places such as Tokyo and Barcelona due, in part, to the fact that many people there live in very small apartments? When your living quarters are about the size of a jail cell (90 to 100 square feet, including the bathroom), then perhaps it's nicer to be outside sitting on a park bench, or spending time in cafes.  Maybe Seattle's street life will perk up with the micro-apartment trend that's happening here.

These uber small apartments are cropping up all over Seattle and King county. Seattle's University District has some under construction, as well as  the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Trend driven by a hot rental market

Seattle-area real estate appraiser Richard Hagar tells KPLU that the "small is beautiful"  trend is a reaction to the rising cost of rent due to a high demand and not enough supply. If you're comfortable with a small space, he says, you can get in the door for about $500.00 to $600.00 a month.

Okay for college kids, but for others?

Hagar says these dinky digs are also being snapped up by older people who don't need a lot of space. In fact, he estimates that less than half of the tenants will be college-age kids.

These places are affordable, bottom line. But it also changes people's lifestyles. They end up being out more communicating with others and only going back home to sleep and change clothes.

Hagar adds that the local rental market isn't expected to become less expensive anytime soon.  Population growth for Washington state is alive and well, with the state on pace for a yearly average of about 100,000 people moving here.

Speaking of small, even some garages are going the way of teensy-weensy apartments, at least in Europe. Check out this video for an extreme example.