An emerging worldwide trend of which Melbourne appears to be at the forefront is that of the ‘micro apartment’ or as it known in the Unites States, ‘aPodments’, and ‘micro lofts’.

The average size of the micro apartment ranges from as little as 11.5 square meters up to 50 square meters. In the last five years the median size of a micro apartment has decreased from 52 square meters to 44 square meters.

By way of comparison, the average sized newly constructed micro apartment in New York is approximately 37 square meters. However these design rules do not apply to existing apartment buildings that are refurbished, where apartments can be as little as 9.7 square meters.

Demand in the Unites States is so great that developers can’t build these micro apartments quickly enough and has led to the Mayor of New York is seeking proposals from developers to construct micro apartments on city owned land that contain at least 75% of apartments that range in size between 25 – 28 square meters.

Micro apartments are also popular in London, Warsaw, Tokyo and Singapore.

There is similar demand from buyers, intending to rent these properties and renters in Melbourne and a very large majority of these apartments are rented to international students and workers.

Some of the reason these micro apartments are so popular with buyers and renters is they provide a very high level of amenity in terms of location and accessibility at very affordable prices in cities where space is at a premium. In some cities they are viewed as a solution to housing shortages.

As apartments become smaller, space has to be maximized. This has been achieved by innovative designs including walls that move to create new spaces or tables popping up from the floor. Some furniture companies now make smaller scale furniture to actually fit these pint sized spaces.

Most building codes, which were set decades ago when households were typically bigger require larger minimum sized apartments. Yet recently San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted in favor of reducing the minimum apartment size to just 20.4 square meters.

Nevertheless opponents of micro apartments question the amenity and quality that living in these apartments provides and worry that a class divide is being created. Few come with car parks and additionally most financial institutions will not provide finance for an apartment that is less than 50 square meters in size.

It is for these and other reasons that building authorities in London and Sydney now require a one bedroom apartment to be a minimum of 50 square meters. Building authorities in Melbourne are also reportedly considering minimum sizes for one bedroom apartments.

However as Tony De Domenico of the Urban Development Institute of Australia maintains, “it’s a very dangerous trying to interfere with the market by having minimum size because we need the choice of affordable stock.’

As always this article contains general information only and should not be relied on for detailed advice related to your particular circumstances. Should you require such advice, please contact your lawyer.