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Where Are the Tiniest Apartments in the Nation? (Hint: Not NYC)

By Amy Zimmer | July 5, 2016 7:20am
 An image of a micro unit at Carmel Place.
An image of a micro unit at Carmel Place.
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Carmel Place

Where can you find the smallest apartments in the nation?

While you might know many Manhattan residents who squeeze into tiny apartments, this island, it turns out, doesn’t even make the list of the Top 20 compiled by a national real estate search site Rent Café.

Tucson has the smallest apartments in the nation, followed by El Paso and Buffalo. Atlanta has the largest, followed by Plano and Jersey City, according to the study.

The site crunched the numbers on cramped spaces across the country using data from Yardi Matrix, an apartment market intelligence source that’s the site’s sister company.

Studio apartments in Manhattan average 475 square feet, according to a recent Rent Café blog post. One-bedrooms come in at about 694 square feet, and two-bedroom average a “reasonable” 1,015 square feet.

“But that doesn’t erase the fact that Manhattan remains the nation’s tightest market with average rents reaching a whopping $4,043 per month, more than three times the national average,” the blog said.

Manhattan (and other boroughs), of course, might soon get an influx of smaller apartments.

In the 1980s, the city banned so-called micro-units — defined as apartments smaller than 400 square feet — from being built.

Changes included in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s "Zoning for Quality and Affordability" plan would allow for more micro-units, decreasing the legal minimum size of new apartments to 300 square feet, which many experts believe will make it easier for single New Yorkers to afford to live alone.

Design enthusiasts have embraced how sleek multi-purpose furniture can help make efficient use of the micro-units at Kips Bay's Carmel Place, where the developer got a waiver to build units up to 360 square feet.

"We spend 90 percent of our time in 40 percent of our home," said Chris Bledsoe, co-founder of Ollie, a brand specializing in micro-units that is providing the furniture and other services and amenities at Carmel Place, from housekeeping to social events.

Because of that figure, which he cited from a 2012 UCLA study, Bledsoe said, his company is embracing a more edited lifestyle where the focus is on smaller spaces that allow users to have fun beyond their homes.

"It doesn’t mean that more home equals more happy," Bledsoe said. "In reality, more home is more money, and more home is more maintenance."