With the cost of living continuing to rise in many countries throughout the world, it should come as no surprise that many people are seeking out smaller spaces to call their homes. Living in a tiny apartment in a densely-populated and expensive city is no doubt a great solution to curbing extortionate rent payments; but as you’ll soon see in the gallery below, this idea has been taken to extremes in some of the world’s most popular and wealthy cities.
These 15 minuscule apartments would definitely be better described as ‘cramped’ rather than ‘cozy’, but they all provide essential shelter at a more affordable price for their owners and tenants — some have even made shockingly clever refurbishments to really maximize what little space is available. Having said that, we definitely wouldn’t blame you if you turned your nose up at the thought of living in some of these tiny homes — who knows, they may even make you feel better about your own cramped living quarters and ridiculous rent payments!
15. Gothenburg – Igloo-Style Room
This tiny and perfectly arranged Swedish apartment is the work of designers Torsten Ottesjö and Lars Isestig. Though they may have only had 183 square feet of space to play around with, the pair managed to create a quirky and functional living space that we’re sure many people wouldn’t mind calling home.
The home is arranged over three floors with two proper staircases, as opposed to the usual ladders favored by many tiny apartments. There’s a kitchen, bathroom with shower and a living area that also doubles as a guest bedroom. As for the main bedroom itself, that is an impressive and seriously cozy looking igloo-style room. There is also plenty of storage space and a small dining area. The main space was designed to be an open plan so as not to feel too claustrophobic, as well as using the only window as a focal point to make it feel brighter.
14. London – One-Room Flat
There’s no doubt that London is one of the most expensive cities to buy a property in, so it makes sense that shrewd investors would develop possible living options from seemingly impossibly small spaces. However, this tiny one-room flat in the much sought-after borough of Islington is on a whole different scale. With just 188 square feet, this tiny abode has a ‘mezzanine’ bed accessed via stairs over the kitchen area, as well as a small living area and a bathroom with a toilet and shower (but curiously, no sink).
It was described by the agent as a “unique one bed house presented in great condition throughout” that offers “convenient living in the heart of Barnsbury”. As for the price, it may be cheap by London standards, but at £275,000 ($347,000), you’ll still be in need of a hefty deposit. It could prove to be a great option for someone who doesn’t plan on spending too much time at home — provided they don’t have too much stuff to bring with them, of course…
13. Rhode Island – 48 ‘Micro Apartments’
This miniature Rhode Island apartment is one of 48 ‘micro apartments’ that have been transformed from shops that existed in the Arcade Providence — America’s first ever shopping mall when it was built 188 years ago. The refurbishment was completed by Northeast Collaborative Architects, who have turned the former boutiques into studios ranging from 225 to 275 square feet. “Our tenants only need to show up with two suitcases, and they are good to go,” NCA Principal Michael Abbott told Tech Insider.
Each of the apartments comes fully furnished with a twin bed, dresser, sofa, flat screen TV and kitchen table. They all have full bathrooms, but the kitchens only come with a mini-fridge, sink and microwave — so not ideal for anyone who prefers to cook at home. The apartments also all have access to a common room with TV and arcade games, a laundry room and extra storage space for bikes, etc.
12. South Africa – ‘Pod Indawo’
This micro apartment has one big difference to all of the others; it’s actually a prefabricated home that can be relocated to wherever your heart desires. South African architects Clara da Cruz Almeida and Collaborate000 designed ‘Pod Indawo’, and the result is basically a very cute mini mobile home that is also environmentally friendly.
The pod has 183 square feet, which includes a kitchen, lofted sleeping area, and an outdoor patio space. There’s a fold-out couch and table and plenty of storage space. The designers say the pod would be a great solution for young South Africans looking for their first place or even for homeowners to use as guest accommodation on their land. Though the pod is still in prototype stage, the creators estimate that the eventual price tag will be somewhere between $18,000 and $61,000.
11. Seattle – Self-Designed Mini-Home
Seattle has become something of a leader when it comes to micro housing in the US, and local resident Steve Sauer’s self-designed mini-home is the perfect example of the trend. He spent a total of seven years doing the place up in order to make the most out of the 182 square foot space, and as a result has a cozy and fully functional home set over three floors. “What I really wanted was one place with exactly what I needed and wanted.” He said. “Quality is more important than quantity for me, and extra space only a problem.”
The apartment now houses two beds, a bathroom with shower, a full kitchen with a dishwasher, as well as a ‘cafe’ area and living area with TV. There is also plenty of storage space and even room to store two bikes. Steve spent hours scouring the internet to find pieces to furnish the apartment, and what he couldn’t find he simply created himself.
10. Geneva – 12 Meters Squared
Geneva is consistently named one of the most expensive cities in the world by various annual listings, but even so, this apartment listing from 2015 caused quite a stir when it was posted online. With a rather hefty price tag of 1185 Swiss Franc (around $1172 USD), people were quick to accuse the advertiser of overcharging for the apartment, which has a total of 12 meters squared.
With a serious lack of rental properties coming onto the market, it means that inflated rental payments are unfortunately common in the expensive Swiss city, and it’s because of this that this mini apartment was most probably snapped up in no time. Let’s just hope that whoever took it is a big fan of wooden paneling, and doesn’t have more than one suitcase worth of belongings…
9. New York – ‘Professional Organizer’
Many people thinking about moving to Manhattan expect to compromise on space when it comes to their living quarters, but this 90 square foot apartment would probably be a bit too cramped for a lot of people to handle. It was the home of Felice Cohen, who paid $700 a month for the place for six years until 2013.
Though she admitted to having had a panic attack on her first night in the apartment, Felice’s work as a professional organizer meant that she had soon made the most out of the tight space – including storing things vertically, keeping fruit in the microwave and getting rid of most of the existing furniture. She has no regrets about her time in the tiny bolt hole now though; the money that she was able to save has meant she could afford to buy a much bigger apartment in the same neighborhood.
8. Paris – Swiss Army Inspiration
Parisian apartments are notoriously small, but at just 86 square feet this seventh-floor studio is in a whole different league. Before being redeveloped by Paris-based architects Kitoko Studio, the former maid’s chamber was simply an awkwardly-shaped room with a sink. Now it has been cleverly designed using the Swiss Army Knife as inspiration, to provide accommodation for a family’s au pair.
The living quarters have been given a complete overhaul and now include a kitchen area, a bathroom, a table and a decent space for storage, all tucked away in a pull-out closet. The steps leading up to the sleeping area double as storage space, while the mini kitchenette is fully functional with a concealed sink and other appliances. Admittedly it might get a bit annoying having to constantly be pulling out drawers all of the time, but there are probably plenty of people who would happily call this place home if it meant being able to live in the heart of one of the world’s most desirable cities.
7. Madrid – “An Empty Box Waiting To Be Filled”
This tiny Madrid apartment was designed specifically for those who work from home in mind. Spanish architects MYCC created the micro apartments, which has a mezzanine study area accessed via a steel ladder mounted on the wall. It also has a kitchen, a living area, sleeping area and bathroom, and has purposely been finished all in white to make the space feel larger and more inviting.
The architects say the apartment is “an empty box waiting to be filled,” adding: “The idea of light and simple floors where it could be possible to easily jump from one to another was always in mind from the very first sketches. This singular urban shelter is just twenty square meters and nevertheless is one hundred cubic meters of volume. In such an enclosed space should a single person live and work. He will use his creativity and dynamism to make it his own sweet home.”
6. New York – 78 Square Foot Space
Now it’s back to New York, for what could possibly be the smallest apartment in the United States! Architect Luke Clark Tyler is the proud inhabitant of this tiny 78 square foot space based in the sought after Hell’s Kitchen area of Manhattan. He pays $800 per month for the apartment, which works out pretty extortionate in the cost per square footage basis. He doesn’t have a kitchen, but has a microwave tucked away and a fridge neatly built into his work desk.
He had to build his own bed as full-sized ones won’t fit inside, and he also shares a bathroom with three other apartments. Despite all of this he remains upbeat about his living situation, saying: “Having lived in both the largest shelter in the South East as well as the largest slum in East Africa, I don’t think living small is a challenge. So we can call it anything; a room, a hallway, a live-in-closet, but to me it’s just home.’
5. Warsaw – World’s Thinnest Apartment
This apartment not only has the accolade of being one of the world’s smallest apartments, it is also one of the thinnest. Built in 2012 by architect Jakub Szczęsny, it measures in at a meagre 122 cm (48 in) at its widest point and a baffling 72cm (28 in) at its narrowest. It is the Warsaw pied a terre of Israeli writer Etgar Keret, who visits the city two or three times a year. The apartment’s location in Wola is of particular significance to him as it is where his mother was once smuggled out of to escape death.
With a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living area arranged over two floors the home has everything a visitor needs – even if it does have something of a prison vibe to it. The apartment is actually too small to technically be considered a residence according to Polish law, so ‘Keret House’ is considered an art installation instead.
4. Rome – One Crumbling Room
This tiny but perfectly formed apartment is the work of Italian architect and designer Marco Pierazzi. He came across the space in 2010, back when it was derelict and hadn’t been inhabited for decades. Originally just one crumbling room, Marco gave it a complete revamp and it now houses a bathroom with shower, a lofted sleeping/living area and unusually for a micro apartment, a full kitchen.
At just 75 square feet, the apartment may be compact, but it has everything you need; and best of all is its location – just a short walk from famous sites such as the Pantheon and Saint Peter’s Square. However, after the addition of a new baby, Marco and his wife decided the apartment was a little too much of a squeeze for three, so they now rent it out to holidaymakers visiting Rome.
3. Seoul – ‘Goshiwons’
As one of the planet’s most densely populated cities, it’s fair to say that Seoul apartments aren’t exactly spacious. However, with tiny one-room studios like this becoming more and more prevalent, many of the city’s residents have become used to living in extremely compact studios. The idea for this type of studio originates from the country’s ‘goshiwons’ – small rooms with shared kitchen facilities usually inhabited by budget-conscious university students who pay between $250 and $400 a month.
These tiny apartments, aka ‘goshitels’ may seem extreme, but given South Korea’s expensive deposit scheme, where tenants have to pay thousands of dollars in ‘key money’ in order to secure even the smallest place, they definitely serve a purpose for those on a budget. If you want to try out life in a goshitel, this place is currently listed on Airbnb for $730/month.
2. Hong Kong – Minuscule Apartment
Given that Hong Kong is home to the most expensive real estate on the planet, it’s no big surprise that those on a more meagre budget are forced to live in less-than-spacious apartments. However, these images taken by a Chinese Human Rights Organization, show the shocking reality for many families who reside in tiny dwellings of around 40 square feet.
With barely enough room for the essentials, most of the minuscule apartments have bunk beds which can end up sleeping up to five or six people. By the time other necessities such as cooking equipment and clothes storage have been brought into the space, there is barely enough room for the families to sit together. The photos act as an important reminder that even in a vibrant city like Hong Kong there are plenty of people living in extremely difficult circumstances.
1. Tokyo – Coffin Apartments
For those wanting to live in the most popular parts of Tokyo (e.g Shibuya) on a budget, one potential option could be a Geki-Sema — as long as you don’t have any issues with claustrophobia that is. Similar to the country’s infamous capsule hotels, these cupboard-like spaces have just enough room to sleep in and store a few clothes and other items. However, there is one major difference; unlike capsule hotels these box-rooms are for long-term living arrangements.
The rather creepily nicknamed “coffin apartments” have shared bathrooms, and with the rooms stacked on top of one another, have more of a resemblance to a row of lockers than people’s homes. Some of the rooms are just a few meters long and do not have windows. Despite this, the rent for one of these places is probably not as cheap as you’d expect, with payments of between $480 and $600 per month.