A few weeks ago I came across the above YouTube video of architect Gary Chang's incredible Hong Kong apartment. Since then I've seen a few newspaper articles focusing on exceptionally small living spaces here in Toronto. There were two in Saturday's Toronto Star alone (which you can read here and here). All this talk of tiny homes has me asking the question, "What's the smallest space you could live in?" 500 square feet? How about 400 square feet? Could you live in 300 square foot apartment? (Yes, they do make condos that small).
The smallest home I've sold was a 400 sq ft bachelor condo in the Pantages building on Victoria Street. The buyer of this property put location at the top of her list. Size was secondary. As with any purchase, budget dictated the size of unit we could find within the specific location. A bachelor unit was her only option. Fast forward a few years - she's still there, she's happy with the space, and she has no plans of moving anytime soon.
I'm no stranger to small spaces myself. One of the first places my wife and I had together was a 400 sq ft bachelor apartment in the Annex. We lived there for about a year, rearranging the layout 3 times until we found the perfect configuration to maximize the space. With two people in such tight quarters we had to find the most economical placement and use of our furniture. We'd try to multi-purpose anything we could ("This guitar amp could double as an end table...").
Could we live in such a small space now? No. But we did, happily, for almost a year. And the clients that I've helped purchase smaller condos are very happy with their spaces. The reality is, in a city like Toronto there will always be a market for small properties.
There will always be renters who are looking to purchase their first home and the fact that these smaller properties exist allow them to do so. There will always be someone looking to expand their real estate portfolio and a 400 sq ft condo offers them the opportunity to purchase their first investment property.
Of course, there will also always be those who balk at living in such small spaces. They need to remember though, that in a city like Toronto real estate values are not the same as those in Windsor or London or Guelph... Not everyone can afford an 1500 sq ft house here. Without these smaller spaces a number of buyers simply wouldn't have an option.
Just be happy that you're not in Vancouver where rental units as small as 270 sq ft are soon to hit the market. Although I'm sure it's only a matter of time...
If you’re thinking of making a move and would like to know how I can help, feel free to contact me for more info.