America's Smallest Apartment: Walkable Micro-living in NYC

New York-based writer Felice Cohen lives in an amazingly small apartment -- 90 sq.ft. to be exact. Since it was profiled in the Daily Mail, this video of her micro-abode has gone viral.  Cohen's Manhattan apartment isn't breathtaking in terms of design. Tiny homes I've covered before (here, here) definitely take the cake on that front.  I also can't help thinking that it must be pretty hard to have... what should I say ... “company” ... in that low cielinged loft bed. But Cohen's reasons for going small are what I find most interesting.



Cohen started her experiment in micro-living as a one year thing.  That morphed into three and she shows no signs of tiring.

Overall, she's been happy to trade space for proximity. To have Central Park as her backyard, to be able to walk out the door into Manhattan, and to be walking distance or a short commute from just about every attraction NYC has to offer,  Cohen scaled way back on her living space.  She's the ultimate example of someone driven by what green planners call “access by proximity.” (As opposed to the more common "access by traffic jam".)

Admittedly 90sq.ft. may be a bit extreme, unthinkable for most of us. But it's interesting to try to find yourself on the spectrum from long commutes+big backyards to short walks+smaller bedrooms.  What do you take into account when you balance the tradeoffs between location and space?

Perusing through the most recent edition of the WorldChanging book, I came across a few related factoids: 
  • The health benefits of walking add three minutes to your  overall life expectancy for every minute spent strolling thhe streets. (New York is a perfect example.  High numbers of pedestrians, low car use, and fast walking speeds means that New Yorkers actually live longer than the average American.)
  • Living in dense walkable urban areas is almost always cheaper compared to car-oriented suburbs when you take into account both transportation and housing costs.  
  • You would need a 40% increase in salary to offset the reduced quality of life resulting from a one hourr morning and evening commute.

Comments

1 Response to "America's Smallest Apartment: Walkable Micro-living in NYC"

john sheldon said... 8 June 2012 at 01:26
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This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.

You can expect occasional updates, but not with the same frequency as in the past.

You can also find my writing on urban redesign and sustainability in ReNew Canada, The Mark, Sustainable Cities Canada, WorldChanging, and other more specialized academic publications.

Info on my consulting work, c.v. and current research focus is all here.


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