Homes don't need to be enormous to be comfortable. Smaller-home advocate Sarah Susanka has proven that. But now, according to the New York Daily News, (hat tip to MyMoneyBlog.com), New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a contest to design "micro-unit" apartments: "The new closetlike flats will be just 275 to 300 square feet — larger than a jail cell but smaller than a mobile home — and will have special permission to ignore city rules requiring newly built apartments to exceed 400 square feet."
A 10-feet-by-30-feet pad is enough room for a small kitchen, small bathroom and a small bedroom/living room. It's apparently too small for a mayor, though, according to the Daily News: "Bloomberg's 12,500-square-foot Upper East Side townhouse is about 40 times as big as the micro units, but they'll be three times larger than the smallest dorm rooms at Columbia University — and six times the size of an average 48-square-foot cell on Rikers Island."
But as small as Bloomberg's dream home for his voters is, it isn't as small as the home described in the San Francisco Chronicle: "It's about the size of seven ping-pong tables — and all yours starting at $279,000."
The architect admits it is too small for families.
"The units themselves feel, well, small, but stylish and functional," the Chronicle reported. "The kitchen area includes a mini sink, two-burner electric cooktop, half fridge and microwave-convection oven. There isn't room for a bed and a sofa, so each studio is staged with a sofa bed. They come with a wardrobe but no closets."
The architect said, "It's your small piece of the big city."
Even smaller still is the home described in the New York Post. "For the past year, writer Erin Boyle, 28, and biologist James Casey, 30, have lived in a 240-square-foot apartment in Brooklyn Heights," the Post reports. There was just enough room for Casey's surfboard.
"He's a surfer, so there was no way we were going to get rid of it," Boyle told the Post. "We left it in the bathtub and showered with it, but then we realized that it was more of a burden." It ended up in a corner.
The bedroom is above the stove in a cramped loft — all for $1,500-a-month rent.
Still too big for you?
My Money Blog featured the 10-foot-by-20-foot "Lodge-on-Wheels," selling for $37,900. It looks like a lakeside cabin on wheels — only smaller.
Jay Shafer went smaller still, to an 89-square-foot home. His Tumbleweed Tiny House Company makes homes from 65 square feet all the way up to a whopping 884 square feet. (Click to see a video of Shafer's home.)
Which is all reminiscent of Henry David Thoreau on the shores of Walden Pond in Concord, Mass. Thoreau's famous home was only 10 by 15 — not including the bathroom. Which it didn't have.