This is a guest post from Mihaela over at RentCafé.
For many decades, a large house with a spacious yard in a quiet neighborhood was the central feature of the American dream. Now, as the new generation of renters comes of age and enters the market, large apartments are losing their appeal and rental units are shrinking more and more. In 2018, the average new apartment in the US measured 941 square feet, 5% less than the 2008 average. In certain cities, apartments decreased in size by more than 15%. For some people, it seems like we are on the road to shoe-box living, but others consider this to be an indicator of another trend: the rise of minimalist apartments.
More Millennials are choosing renting over homeownership. This is an indicator of both a reluctance to settle in one place, and of the financial difficulties that the ‘student debt’ generation is facing. Economic factors are forcing renters to go for smaller units. This is especially true for people living in downtown areas and extremely expensive rental markets, such as New York and San Francisco. So what trends should we look out for as minimalism become more popular?
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The Draw of Minimalist Apartments
1. High Tech Amenities
A large number of Millennials and Gen Zers seem to adopt a minimal lifestyle. First of all, these younger generations have a strong awareness of their environmental footprint and a need for different kinds of amenities. Considering that space is no longer the number one priority, renters are looking for high-tech amenities that make living in a small apartment much easier.
Because the younger generations are creating the demand for amenities now, a lot of attention is given towards smart homes and rentals with integrated Internet of Things. These are useful tools that replace unnecessary objects that create clutter. They are unobtrusive, blending in, and they create a high level of comfort. Wireless technology is also extremely important for a small apartment, as all those entangled wires are likely to get in the way.
2. Popular DIY Trends
Although we are talking about minimalism, a great deal of importance must be placed on storage options as well. Even the smallest number of possessions can clutter a tiny apartment. Therefore, it’s no surprise that renters are buzzing about ways to reduce their amount of stuff and focus on living minimally.
DIY home improvement projects fit right in with the trend. They require repurposing and upcycling, two keywords for the minimalist lifestyle. Tips and tricks on how to maximize the use of space in studio apartments, or in small kitchens and bathrooms, are easy to find and implement, usually without spending money.
Many people promote minimalism and create content to inspire and help others adopt it as they become more aware of their spending, as well as of the impact that their everyday purchases have on the environment. With access to such a wide range of ideas and tutorials on the web, minimalist living is in reach for everyone.
Living in a New Reality
The economic situation is undoubtedly a driver behind this shift. It’s a push factor caused by the pressures of slowing median income growth and burdensome debt. As developers focus on creating micro-units and young renters increasingly sacrifice space for other amenities, it will be interesting to see where this trend takes us.
Nonetheless, there are also aspects of minimalist apartments that draw people to this movement. One of these pull factors is that fewer possessions allows for more mobility. This fits with the lifestyle of remote workers and freelancers that travel a lot. The lower cost of rent and utilities will help renters save much more, which means an easier time paying off debt, or investing in themselves.
There’s a preference factor, too. Living in minimalist apartments can become an exciting challenge for everyone who wants to let go of the stuff they own and start living that ‘less is more’ life.
About the author: Mihaela is a passionate reader and writer, with an affinity for language and linguistics, as well as the latest technological developments. She discovered her interest for real estate at RENTCafé, and you can read more of her articles on their blog.