KOIN 6 News: Tiny space, big price: Micro-apartments in Portland
Author: Jennifer Dowling, KOIN 6 News Staff
Posted: December 17, 2015

Watch the original story on KOIN 6. 

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The trend toward smaller apartments started in Japan and has caught on in cities like San Francisco and Manhattan. The micro-apartment trend is now in Portland.

Claire Welch is a resident at the Freedom Center apartments, in Northwest Portland. According to the website, the smallest apartment is 267 square feet, the largest is 385.

Welch has a small dishwasher and sink, but the stove and refrigerator are full size. The cupboards, closets and living space are also mini.

“The downfall is maybe the space can get too cluttered too soon, or the placement of stuff can get weird,” says Welch.

Welch pays $900 a month for rent.

“It’s a little expensive, but if you live here it’s easier to get to work.” Welch says the apartment is doable, if you are smart with your space.

“I guess it comes down to what you really need/don’t need.”

What is driving this trend?

Gerard Mildner is an Associate Professor of Real Estate Finance and the Director for the Center of Real Estate at Portland State University. He tells KOIN 6 News this micro trend is spurred by young people, specifically millenials, who want to live downtown but can’t afford a normal sized apartment.

“One way to mitigate the really high rents we are experiencing is for people to buy these really small apartments,” says Mildner. “Basically what you are doing is trading location for space.”  

He says an uptick in people wanting to rent is fueling the trend, in addition, there isn’t enough space to meet the demand, which is driving up prices.

“We desperately need more housing being built in Portland. We are producing 20% fewer housing units than we did in 1990-2005, despite the fact that our rents are at record highs and our housing prices have recovered from the great recession.”

Mildner admits even though this trend is catching on in Portland, he thinks it’s a niche trend. As soon as people are able to make more money or get better jobs, they will move out of the micro units.