Micro-Lofts: Coming Soon to your Neighbourhood?

Disclaimer:  Comments made by Russ Trembytskyy appearing in the Newspaper "Meest (Mict)" on the 20th and 27th of March, 2014, page 4 in issues #12 and #13, as well as in the newspaper "Gazeta Plus" on the 28th of March 2014, page 14 in issue #641, are those of the author and have not been approved or authorized by RE/MAX West Realty Inc. Dated this 31st day of March 2014.

Can you imagine yourself living in a 270 square feet space?

That’s a 16 ½' by 16 ½' space which is the size of a large storage unit. Can you imagine yourself living in that space? Well, they are currently renovating the 100-year-old Burns Block in downtown Vancouver, putting in several of these units and calling them micro-lofts. Micro-Lofts! Each of these “suites” will contain a wall bed with a convertible dining table, a bar-size fridge and a shower with no tub. The bathroom is so small that there is no sink. The "living room" looks like it will only fit a small two-seater couch and coffee table. I'm getting claustrophobic just thinking about it! This is Vancouver's answer to the affordable housing crunch.

It appears that real estate prices, rent and availability of land in Vancouver has reached a point where construction cannot go outward and therefore has to go upward. Rents for these "micro-lofts" start at $650 per unit. A bachelor suite in downtown Vancouver typically rents for about $300 more. A recent study by Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) pegged the average rent in Vancouver at $979, with the average bachelor suite in Toronto running around $805. In contrast, a 450 square foot studio apartment in Hong Kong rents for between $22,000HK and $25,000HK per month ($2,739 CAD - $3,113 CAD). 

The concept of micro-sized suites is not new. People in places such as Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Japan, where land values have gone through the roof, have been building and living in these diminutive spaces for many years. The typical apartment in Tokyo, known as a 1K, (a suite with a kitchen but no dining room) is about 216 square feet and contains a bedroom/living room, bathroom, small kitchenette, closet and alcove. A 1DK (dining room and kitchen) is around 250 square feet.

A great example of ingenuity is displayed in the following video: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/01/watch-tiny-transformer-apartment-video.php. As you watch the video you will be astonished to how one man has adapted his mini-apartment in Hong Kong to maximize its space and utility.

With the trend of more vertical living and smaller suites increase within those towers, it'll be interesting to see if this trend catches on in Canada and what these baby units will sell for on the open market.