micro-unit

Say Goodbye to the Kitchen: How Tech Is Making Small Spaces More Livable

There’s an up and coming population problem in the cities of the world, some more than others. In places where one needs to be in the city to survive, people start getting a little crammed together. Oddly enough, some people in the younger generation actually prefer this sort of lifestyle as compared to rolling hills and open spaces. This phenomenon is mainly due to the digital age.

The reason people, especially those of younger generations, decide to downgrade into smaller apartments more or less comes down to money. While a tiny apartment in the heart of the city might have the same rent price as a bigger one on the outskirts, being close to work and not having to own a vehicle greatly makes up for this margin. Then the price of appliances and other needs start coming in, until some people realize they can get by with the bare necessities in life. This is one of the major reasons smaller living spaces are becoming a trend: they are a need, not a want.

Plus, tiny homes, in particular, are shaking up the property market by appealing to people who need places to live and cannot afford more substantial residence. The construction of conventional homes is cost-intensive, and many households find they’re open to tiny homes since they’re more affordable. Statistics indicate that the global tiny home market will achieve a combined annual growth rate (CAGR) of seven percent through 2022.

Millennials will likely drive a significant amount of that growth. A survey found 63 percent of them would be willing to live in a house that’s less than 600 square feet, and that interest in tiny homes is generally going up.

Property technology is not exclusive to tiny homes, of course, but those miniature abodes typically use technology in creative ways to save space. Professionals who work in the housing market will need to keep the trend in mind to succeed for the future.

With the changing times and the wants of a new generation, these small living spaces are not just possible but practical.

Entire Rooms Are Unnecessary Now

News that people in the city don’t need a garage may not come as a shock to you. The roads are already packed enough. There’s no need for your own car, an entire extra expense, when you’re close enough to walk or bike to work. Even without a good commute in place, every location in the city can still be accessible with public transportation, city taxi services or corporations like Uber and Lyft. Your own vehicle is entirely unnecessary now.

There’s one room, however, that people may be shocked to hear many apartments are doing away with. Previously a must in any home, the kitchen is obsolete by modern standards. Even today, it is often the center of a home, absolutely essential and the first room to check out when you’re looking for a new place. However, these days seem to be passing. Many people in the city just have food delivered to their homes. New food delivery services like Waitr can pick up restaurant food from any place on your mind and deliver the meal right to your door.

Previously a must in any home, the kitchen is obsolete by modern standards.

Then there comes the living room. While an overly large living room has been out of style for quite some time now, most people in the city don’t even need a small one. Why entertain at home when you can either meet people in public or socialize on the internet? Many individuals in the younger generations spend most of their socializing time online rather than in person, making exchanges quicker and easier for all parties involved. Even dating has become an act of the internet. Thus, no need for a living room.

Every other room of the home can either be downsized or combined with another, creating a space that’s small and private. While some living spaces are entirely too small for varying reasons, many people seem to prefer a 300 to 400 square foot apartment — as long as they’re near the city center. At the same time, these small apartments are so popular that they cost more per square foot than their larger counterparts.

Data indicates that U.S. homeowners devote 35.1 percent of their monthly incomes to housing costs. To compensate for those costs, many people not only look for homes with fewer rooms but move to smaller, more affordable housing markets. This trend affects the property market at large.

Some People Have No Choice

In some cities, like Mumbai and Hong Kong, many people have to live in spaces of less than 100 square foot for extortionist-level prices. When the decision comes down to living where the jobs and people are versus living nowhere, there’s no contest despite how bad conditions can be. In the core of Hong Kong, a woman and son share a 60 square foot apartment for $487 a month, according to Reuters and Business Insider.

Research from 2017 indicates that such shared situations are not uncommon, even in the U.S. That’s because nearly 79 million American adults share housing. The approach makes sense, though. After all, many property managers only accept tenants who can prove a certain amount of monthly earnings. Pooling financial resources by living together could make people eligible to rent homes that they could not afford on their own.

In places like Hong Kong, the need for better living conditions in small homes is great. Where in many places the drive to have a small apartment in a city is a want, there are a lot of places in the world where this same situation is an absolute must.

In some booming countries, people offer capsule beds rather than apartments. These beds can also be rented out. Capsule beds in China cost $30 a night or $450 a month. Amenities include a television, air conditioner and an adjustable ceiling. In Hefei, China, patients who can’t afford a bed at the hospital are put into 86-square-foot rooms in an apartment building. There are even people who live in cage apartments, which look remarkably like actual cages, for $230 a month.

While there can be some luxuries in a small living space, not everyone can afford them. However, extra technology can make these spaces somewhat more habitable. If push comes to shove, maybe it can make many lives easier.

Creative Technologies to Increase Space and Usage

Furniture and even walls can be folded up and put away to make for more space and access to simple yet important luxuries. Beds can serve as sofas or entirely new rooms depending on how high you’re willing to sleep. With no need for a kitchen or most appliances, even more space can be found.

The aVoid House is only 96 square feet, and its design allows every piece of the furniture to go behind walls when not in use. There’s also the Tiny Adventure Home, which has multi-purpose walls. More specifically, the walls are not only part of the home’s structure, but they have rock climbing components on the outside, letting residents stay active without needing exercise equipment.

Appliance Rentals and Shared Amenities

Some apartment buildings are getting into the swing of allowing amenities and appliances to be rented out to their patrons who live in rooms otherwise too small to house these things permanently. Other equipment — like a guitar with an amplifier or an ice cream machine — could be found in these sharable places. In an apartment building where everyone likely shares laundry and bathroom facilities anyway, this is yet another idea to make lives a little easier so that people don’t have to go without.

A study found that 86 percent of millennials would pay one-fifth more in rent to live in smart homes. People in the property market also realize that the perks offered in a housing complex could substantially boost interest and sale prices. So, they’re re-evaluating the amenities that tenants want most. Many of them are for the facility at large rather than individual units. For example, some properties have high-tech fitness centers, dog parks and Wi-Fi access by the swimming pool to tempt tenants.

How Fires Affect Tiny Spaces

Fire poses great risk in tiny houses. For example, there are major concerns with tiny houses and fire risks, such as the lack of foundations. Without a foundation, this means that local building codes for these tiny houses are frequently ignored. The size of the windows are of major concern, along with the lack of escape routes as means for avoiding a quick-spreading fire.

To decrease the risk of danger in small spaces, making a safety plan ahead of time and knowing where all the exits are is important when you’re first moving into or building a tiny house. In addition, avoid any reason to have an open flame, and don’t overload electrical outlets.

Some smart smoke alarms even talk to give warnings about the severity of a fire instead of only emitting one kind of beeping alert. Tiny space residents could install gadgets to cut down the possibility of devastating damage to an investment.

Ideal Living

While living in smaller units is becoming a trend, it’s still an idea born out of necessity. If there were more space available, many people would want extra room, especially in 100-square-foot apartments. The fact is, people migrate to where they have to be and consider the living conditions as secondary to the location. Whether they’re in a city center for work reasons, family or simply because they have no other place to go, a lot of people live in these overcrowded cities.

The gadgets will expand and evolve, but they are only a cure for the symptom rather than the heart of the problem. Soon, the entire housing and property industry will be turned on its head as more people need space that simply isn’t available in certain areas. Getting creative with interior design and creating new types of buildings for people to occupy are already big jobs on the horizon. For now, people are having to make do with what they have while the property industry tries to figure out affordable and comfortable living arrangements of the future.

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