It is probably safe to say that most of North America is accustomed to living in 2600 square feet homes with just a family of two. Or even 4000+ square feet homes with a family of four. As I go apartment hunting I start to wonder how much is too small, and how much is “just enough” space for me?
Looking at smaller spaces has gotten me inspired. There are lots of people living in small spaces, living a minimalist lifestyle, and not being attached to “stuff”. This leads to smaller heating and utility bills, less spending on “things” that don't ever end up fulfilling our needs or fulfilling our empty hearts.
Some of the benefits of living in a smaller space outside of cheaper utility bills are more global, meaning less consumption of things, less fossil fuels used, and less furniture to fill the space. Less furniture means less materials used and less waste.
For example, average utility bills for an 1800 square foot house costs $140 a month and average utility bills for a 450 square foot apartment place costs $18 per month according to apartment therapy.
So How Much Space?
So how much space does one person need? According to the engineering toolbox, the average person needs about 100-400 square feet of space to feel comfortable in an apartment. That being said, it really depends on the person. Some people need a ton of space to feel sane, some people can work with very little. For example, I know quite a few couples who live together in 450 square feet of space. They are still together (haha!) so perhaps living in a small space is testament to their relationship.
I Need Some Inspiration
There are more than a few inspirational videos and blogs where people can really work well with small spaces. Some of these are Graham Hill's Life Edited apartment, who was able to fit 8 different types of rooms into a small 420 square foot room. Of course, you don't necessarily need to be an architect or an interior designer, but there are a few places where you can find solutions for your small space. There are lots of people out there who are proud of their small space and want to share it with the world.
How Do I Live In a Small Space?
Resource furniture is super pricey but they have fantastic furniture to fit small spaces. For example, a sofa can turn into a Murphy bed. What does pricey mean? How about $5000? Personally I don't know how I feel about spending $5000 on a wall bed, but if you saved over $20,000 on your home because you opted for a smaller space, I suppose that can be justifiable for some.
Related: Furniture Upgrade Trap
If you don't want to be a small-space baller, there are plenty of places that sell Murphy beds (that often have desk attachments or even convert to sofas) for under $2000. You can even create your own Murphy bed for $275.
Another favourite of small spaces is Ikea. Ikea Hackers blog has fantastic ideas on how to convert some of your favourite Ikea furniture into even better furniture. For example, one of my favourites is the Expedit Captain Bed. Who needs a bed with drawers when you can convert the Expedit unit into one?
Although for many, living in a smaller space is usually not an option but a circumstance, many people (including me) opt for living in a smaller space. In fact, in some cities (like New York for example), people feel like its a badge of honour to be able to live in the smallest space possible. I think it's a great way to exercise some creativity and to re-evaluate whether you need that X, Y, and Z that you would probably get without thinking twice if you were living in a larger space. Some of these reasons are to force oneself to de-clutter, to try and lead a more minimalist lifestyle, and to save on utilities! Also, it's a fun make-work project to try and see how efficient you can be with storage. Having a spot for everything because of great storage is… strangely very satisfying.
Readers, how much space do you need to be comfortable?