Apartments in the U.S. keep getting smaller, and prices keep going up. But even the tiniest new York City studios can’t compete with the 95-square-foot spaces that young Tokyo residents are scrambling to move into, according to the New York Times.
For context, the average studio apartment in the U.S. was 941 square feet in 2018, according to a data analysis from commercial real estate firm Yardi Matrix and Rent Cafe. The research further notes the average rent in new apartments has gone up 28% since 2008 — while size has gone down by 5%.
Residents of the tiny Tokyo abodes sleep on lofted platforms, store their clothes on curtain rods, and make use of extremely limited floor space for activities like exercising and playing video games.
One person, Asumi Fujiwara, told the New York Times when she does yoga in front of the toilet, she can’t fully perform each pose due to lack of room, but that it’s worth it to have her own space.
These compact lodgings cost a few hundred dollars less than your average-sized studio in the same areas, anywhere from $340 to $630 a month, per the Times.
A similar, loft-style apartment in New York City near Times Square went viral on TikTok last month, as it cost just $650 in a neighborhood where rents can get up to up to $4,300, according to Zumber.
This Tokyo ultra-small apartment phenomenon has been covered before, by the likes of The Japan Times in 2019 and academic, Japan-focused media outlet Nippon in 2020.
Nakama Keisuke, CEO of Spilytus, a top company making these types of apartments, told Nippon he was inspired to build these kinds of units when he was commuting and working long hours, and just needed somewhere inexpensive to crash closer to the office.
One resident of these spaces also told the NYT that the low cost of living was worth parting with a collection of expensive sneakers that didn’t fit in the space.
Plus, people in Japan typically do not typically host their friends at their apartments, the outlet added.
Fujiwara noted she had not had her romantic partner over in the almost two years she lived there.
“This space is for me,” she said.
And there doesn’t appear to be a leveling off from the demand for tiny places, Spilytus told the Times, adding it had over 1,500 residents in 100 buildings.
College student Yugo Kinoshita told the Times the space was perfect for him because he goes to sleep immediately after his late-night shifts at a restaurant, and he can study at the coffee table/desk in his living room.
The best part, Kinoshita added, is he can clean his floor with just a lint roller.