S.F. supervisors back micro-apartments


The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to give pint-size apartments a try, approving legislation that would allow for the construction of hundreds of 220-square-foot residential units.Up to two people will be allowed to live in the micro-apartments that are estimated to go for $1,300 to $1,500 a month.

How much space do you think you really need to live in? Would you give up a lot of space in order to live in a desirable area – say downtown San Francisco or New York City?

  • On the one hand, I’m a very firm believer that you don’t need much space to exist in and I think the ability to live more humbly is a skill we should all cultivate.

    On the other hand, if I’m gonna live humbly I’d like to be charged a humble rent. My current home has two bathrooms, two floors, three bedrooms, huge living room and kitchen, free parking, front and back yard and the rent is half that shoebox. Ouch.

    • lucascott

      Yep. Those rents are crazy. This kind of apartment should be focused on cheaper rents for single folks and maybe couples with no kids

    • “I’d like to be charged a humble rent.”

      Everything is relative. For certain cities and certain areas in those cities, those rents are “humble”.

      “My current home has…”

      But you’re current home isn’t in the cities/locations described. Comparing them is moot.

      • I agree in principle, but I think San Francisco rent is exceptionally high and rent where I am is unusually low. Obviously some places are going to have higher rent than others, but the gulf between the two coupled with the reduced amount of apartment you get for it falls into the range of “unreasonable.”

  • E K

    For that price? No! for half that maybe. I pay that much for a a crappy 3 bedroom apartment 15 min walk away from downtown Halifax!

    • Boo

      Wow, that’s what an average studio apartment out here on the West coast goes for.

    • imthedude

      No offense, but Halifax ain’t San Francisco. I wouldn’t pay that much for the luxury of living there either though.

      • gjgustav

        Yeah, i’ve been to SF several times and lived in Halifax for almost a decade. SF is a nice city to visit, but I’d much rather live in Halifax.

        • imthedude

          I’m not debating their merits, I’m just saying, one is going to be cheaper than the other.

          • gjgustav

            Sorry, that’s what I meant. Living in SF just isn’t worth the cost to me.

    • Seriously. I pay less than that for a nice two bedroom townhouse! San Fran (or any big city for that matter) isn’t worth it.

  • Jeremy


    • MacsenMcBain

      Hell, nope. “Desirable” is in the eye of the beholder. Not everyone wants to live in a city. I’d rather have some room to breathe, even if it means a bit of a commute.

  • Boo

    Not only would I, I do and I love it. It lets me live close to work and the downtown area of one of Canada’s most expensive cities (not nearly SF or NY expensive though).

    Mine is a bit larger (maybe 320 square feet) and I could certainly live in a smaller space but the full size bathroom and appliances are nice to have.

    People interested in this sort of thing should look up the documentary “We The Tiny House People” on youtube.

  • I’m living in a 650 sq. ft. apartment in SOMA that’s just barely big enough, although I pay twice that.

  • I don’t mind the idea of living in a smaller place (though I haven’t done it for awhile), but those costs are way too much for me. The apartment I’m in is 750 sqft., costs $550/month, and is in a nice part of town that has quick access to a lot of amenities, but the area I’m in is admittedly a bit of an oddity (it’s more or less an overgrown college town with 230K people and a ridiculously low cost of living).

  • Yes.

    People can compare rents across different cities and distances from city centres all they want, but that’s not really the point.

    A person only needs so much space to live. Especially if they’re single. I think this is a great idea.

  • My wife and I lived in San Francisco when we first met. She lived in an apartment in Cow Hollow (the neighborhood on the other side of Lombard Street from The Marina). It was a two-bedroom apartment and she had two roommates one of whose “bedroom” was a large closet.

    • matthewmaurice

      Yeah, clearly this kind of place isn’t for everyone, but for those who want to live in SF (and don’t cook or hang out at home a lot), this could mean no need for roommates or stepping over crack addicts in the Tenderloin.

  • Steven Fisher

    Not today. Back when I was single? Sure. If the location was convenient.

  • The problem here is not the size – I have been an expat in Tokyo for 17 months a few years back and lived all of that time in an even smaller space (plus some self-storage space for stuff I did not need frequently) costing even more. A single person, or a working couple, can certainly deal with it.

    The problem really is the effect on housing prices (and the article correctly mentions that) in the long run. At some point the average cost per square foot for larger apartments will be kindly adjusted to these cells and the effect on the entire city will be severe. First more and more service (low income) employees will move out, then the upper middle-class, finally those who still consider themselves privileged today, traffic will increase even more and the entire quality of living goes down, see London, Tokyo or Manhattan for examples…

    The city should not limit the number of small apartments, it should limit the rents, e.g. by penalizing those exceeding a, to be developed, rent index based on size, amenities and location of an apartment. I know that the defenders of the free market hate these concepts, but they actually work (and, surprise, they work for the real estate developers, too – as the same measures do also put a cap on the price they have to pay for the land they build on). In Berlin, Amsterdam or Stockholm a ‘Sandwich Artist’ at Subways or the pseudo-barrista at Starbucks can still live within walking distance (or a few stops of the streetcar) of the shop he/she is working at, while many branch managers of banks in London commute 4 hours each day, like a student in a developing (or worse) country. Even if it sounds ‘over the top’: what kind of cities do we want to live in?

    • Agreed.

      From the article: “We do have a strong need for family-size housing as well as affordable housing, and we have limited development sites in San Francisco.”

      Lip service. There is no such thing as “affordable housing” within big cities like San Francisco or New York, and there hasn’t been for a long time. The unregulated “free market” is turning those cities into moated castles for the rich.

      • Haha I hope that is a joke, because there isn’t an “unregulated free market” in either of those cities. Its that expensive BECAUSE its a highly regulated market.

  • NYdweller

    I live in NYC in a 420 square foot apartment in NYC, and it’s just below that price per month. I’m starting to think that San Francisco proper is starting to feel like Tokyo. :/

    I’d say you have 2 options. First is find suburbs outside of San Francisco, and commute in (like we do from Queens/Brooklyn).

    Or get some crazy interior entrepreneurs to create awesome interiors for these small spaces.

  • penguirl

    I think I would get stir crazy in an apartment that looks like a hallway, but it’s amazing how little stuff you really need to get by.

    • theStig

      The layout I agree is the problem. In my post above I speak about the family apt we have, and it’s anything but a hallway. That adds tremendously to it.

  • theStig

    Our family own a small 22 sqm flat in downtown Stockholm, and it’s not unique. It’s roomy enough for my parents who live there half the time, and even for them to have my 2 kids for sleep overs. Space, It’s one of those late 20th century luxuries that’ll have to go in the future.

    • gjgustav

      Space only has to go if you are obsessed with growth over sustainability.

  • No thanks, I went to college in San Francisco and I loved “The City” now I live 77 miles from the nearest traffic signal 5 hous from Denver and 2.5 hours from Rapid City SD. My garden is bigger is than that living space.

  • PeterWimsey

    I like the idea, generally. High housing prices are a problem for businesses in SF as well as residents, since they price out people who may simply decide to live in another city.

    It does seem like these rental prices are higher than they need to be on a sq. ft. basis; these seem to be mini-luxury apartments – but I may be mistaken.

    I would love for this idea to spread: while I’m not giving up my house and yard anytime soon, something like this would be a great vacation apartment.