Micro-apartments rise in Chicago

People looking at homes for sale in Chicago may have already seen numerous articles peppering major news outlets about micro-housing or micro-apartments springing up in big cities across the country.

A recent article in The Christian Science Monitor explained that due to the soft housing market across the country, many families and singles cannot reasonably afford the rents for homes in the bustling downtown areas of the cities where they need to be for work. The source revealed that cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Chicago are trying out something new: very small efficiency apartments in the heart of the city that are being called micro-housing. These small units can provide people with space as small as 150 square feet with low monthly costs.

The idea behind these micro-housing units is to diversify the downtown districts of these large cities and allow for shortened commutes for workers to the city centers. With some opponents to this type of housing maintaining that these options could lessen the quality of life for tenants, others point out that limited living space doesn't necessarily correlate with quality of life.

Professor Charles Hoch at the University of Illinois at Chicago, an urban planning expert, told the Monitor that Chicago has experienced notable success with micro-housing. Hoch maintained that an essential first step in integrating these types of housing options to the city is to make efforts to remove social fears about the developments. People tend to connect especially small housing units with those earning very low incomes, which can spark concern that these units will bring higher concentrations of crime to their city.

"Downtown Chicago has benefited from thousands of dorm units built in large high-density buildings in recent decades," Hoch said. "The more we increase the diversity and supply of small single-room units, the more rents will decline and more single people with moderate and low incomes will find a place to live."

A recent post from eco-living expert blogger Matt Hickman noted the craze over micro-apartments in recent news and mentioned a new micro-apartment development in Chicago being undertaken by real estate developer Jay Michael. Michael's project would take foreclosed occupancy properties in Uptown and Edgewater, Chicago neighborhoods on the north side of the city, and develop them into trendy apartments with an average of 350 square feet of living space.

The apartment complexes would include larger common areas that include rooftop pools and libraries. These micro-apartments are just one example of how these new housing options won't cater exclusively to those with very low incomes and could be the start of a new housing trend.