Real Estate News: Big cities, small spaces

Blog_BigCities_888x600pxCity living is a tempting prospect for those who want to combine an active social life and proximity to work with high-quality living arrangements. However, as an increasing number of people choose to move into these already busy centres, the pressure on space intensifies and city-dwellers are forced to be more creative. The latest property trend in vast metropolitan areas such as London, New York and Hong Kong is micro-apartments: Intelligently designed, compact properties that prove that homes don’t have to be large to be luxurious.

Tiny houses

The micro-apartment trend is a product of several influencing factors, including the rising value of property. 2014 saw many people effectively priced out of global cities, with houses costing an average of £514,000 (€712,000) in London, $811,800 (€574,200) in Sydney, and $1.72 million (€1,513,000) in Manhattan. Despite the rising prices, young urban professionals still want to live in vibrant, busy neighbourhoods, close to amenities and their places of work. To achieve that aim, they’re willing to compromise on space. 


City planners have taken note of the trend, and designers and architects are rising to the challenge of creating functional, desirable homes on a considerably smaller scale. One such building, which won a design competition for micro-apartments in 2013, will contain 55 apartments and is currently under construction in the fashionable Kips Bay area of Manhattan. 

Several other big cities have recognised the micro-home’s potential. San Francisco has approved a block of 375 apartments, each just 220 square feet in size, and in the UK 200 tiny houses have been built by specialist company Pocket Living, with more planned for the future. Berlin, Paris, and Sydney have all followed suit, indicating that this trend has global appeal. 

Intelligent design

Although each of the Kips Bay apartments will offer just 260-360 square feet of living space, every one will feature a large window and Juliet balcony, making the compact rooms feel airy and bright. As well as the bedroom, living space, kitchen and bathroom, residents will have access to several communal areas including a rooftop garden, storage space, a gym and a café. These state-of-the-art amenities, plus the sense of community that the complexes hope to foster, are some of the tiny houses’ best selling points. 

Inside the properties, space-saving innovations include staircases doubling as drawers, sliding panels that hide beds or storage within walls, and mechanics that lower your bedroom into the lounge space when it’s time to sleep.

Small investment

Buying a compact apartment in a central area could be a prudent financial choice. City centre property prices are predicted to continue to rise over the next 15 years, as an estimated 1.1 billion more people embrace metropolitan living. Investing in a stylish, innovative home that is affordable for young first-time buyers could yield a substantial return. Until then, these spaces make desirable rental properties, whether for young professionals looking to move into the city, or for holiday makers who simply need a base to return to after a day of sightseeing.

With Engel & Völkers you can discover attractive, intelligent micro-properties in the world’s most desirable cities. Visit us online or at one of our welcoming offices, located in 39 countries worldwide.