What Is The Smallest Space You Could Possibly Live In?

Laugh at the question if you want to, but believe it or not, a lot of Torontonians will be forced to answer this question in the next decade.

Condos are being built smaller and smaller, for a variety of reasons which is a topic for another day.

And while I’m fascinated by these 800-something square-foot three-bedroom condos, I’d like to focus on 1-bedroom condos today.

What is the smallest space in which you could live?  And what would that look like?

SmallSpace

Do you know the size of the average jail cell in the United States?

48 square feet.

That’s a 6 x 8, single-person cell.

Throughout the country, there exist some luxurious 6 x 9, single person cells.

But there also exist 6 x 12, two-person cells.

Of course, there are also open gymnasiums with hundreds of bunk beds in prisons with over-crowding, but that doesn’t really play into our real estate analogy.

I suppose the thought here is: how much larger do you expect your condo to be, than this:

JailCell

Okay, I cheated a little.

That’s actually a spacious two-person cell.

And considering I just spent ten minutes Googling prison cells, that’s one of the nicest prison cells you will ever find!

In any event, I think we’re a ways from creating 50 square foot condos, and we’re also a ways from living in drawers:

KramerDrawers

But with the way condos in Toronto are shrinking, there simply must be a limit, or a “bottom line,” for most people.

Whether it’s a look, a feel, or simply a number of square feet, what is the bottom line for you?

I don’t believe I have ever sold a condo of less than 400 square feet.

In fact, I think the smallest unit I’ve ever sold is probably around 450 square feet.

On Monday night, I have a client bidding (I know, every condo has “bids” now…) on a 480 square foot unit that feels palatial, when compared to the actual number of square feet.  And that’s important to note: small spaces can feel a lot smaller, or larger, depending on the layout.

There is a number at which a true 1-bedroom condo ceases to be possible, and that’s probably somewhere south of 400 square feet.

I’ve been looking at a handful of condos, some existing, some planned, and examining units that are less than 400 square feet.

I want those of you who read floor plans like Braille to tell me which spaces work, and which don’t.

And I want the rest of you, who may or may not have any idea how to read a floor plan, to give me your honest opinion about these spaces.

Let’s look at five condos, in descending order of square footage:

Condo #5 – “The Britt” – Bay & Wellesley

The Britt - The Tate

Here’s a typical sub-400 square foot unit for you.

This is at “The Britt,” which is a pre-construction development by Lanterra Developments, located at Bay & Wellesley.

The issue I have with this floor plan (and we’re assuming I like any floor plan below 400 sqft), is the long foyer.

There’s no measurements here, but it looks like of the 396 square feet in this unit, a good 50-60 square feet is tied up in a useless hallway.

I don’t know if I trust the “furnishings” in any of these floor plans.

Keep in mind, a king-sized bed is 8 x 7 with a modest bed-frame, so when you see the floor plans including beds, chairs, night stands, et al, they’re probably tiny.

Note that the chair on the left almost touches the kitchen counter, and that 4-person-table-with-chairs, that looks like a smushed mushroom, is only moderately larger than one of the living room chairs.  I’d have a hard time believing you can actually fit a 4-person table and four chairs.

Condo #4 – “Nicholas Residences” – 75 St. Nicholas Street

Nicholas Residences - The Ivy

Only one square foot smaller than the first floor plan, this unit at 75 St. Nicholas Street does not have the big hallway that I didn’t like.

It does, however, have something potentially worse.

Any guesses?

That pillar!

That giant black circle is deal-breaker.

A pillar is bad enough in your typical floor-plan, but in a 395 square foot condo, which is hard enough to furnish as is, it completely kills the space.

Condo #3 – “Massey Tower” – 197 Yonge Street

Massey Tower - 378

Built atop the Canadian Bank of Commerce building, circa 1905, this massive 60-storey, 699-unit building will tower atop the heritage site like the birds that crapped on the old structure for a decde.  If you think I’m kidding, I’m not.  It was so bad, the buidling became known as “the bird poop building.”

This is the best layout so far, although you have to admit – it’s only because the furniture outlines make the space work.

The issue I have here is the awkward angle.

These towers are designed to look aesthetically pleasing from the outside, and that comes before the interior layouts.  Otherwise, every single condo in the city would be a perfect square.

The result, is that diagonal slanted window.

and as you can see from what is probably a double-bed, or less, there’s one inch of space between the bed-frame and the window.

It should also be noted in all of these layouts, that there’s virtually no room to store your clothing.  That closet behind the washer-dryer is all the space in the condo.

Downsize your condo, downsize your wardrobe…

 

Condo #2 – “365 Church Condos” – Church & Granby

365 Church Street - The Linden

Completed only a few months ago, this Menkes Developments condominium is a mere 21-storeys; which basically makes it “low-rise” in 2018.

Only one square foot smaller than the previous floor plan above, this is a far better layout.

This unit is square, which makes all the difference.

However, there’s that damn pillar again!  Not the large black circle which you’d wish was an end table once you move in.

I would estimate that’s four feet from the end of the pillar to the window, which completely kills about 30-40 square feet of your 377 square foot condo.

Condo #1 – “Wellesley On The Park” – 11 Wellesley Street

 

Wellesley On The Park - Bryant Park

300 square feet, folks.

We’re reached the bottom of the barrel.

Did you ever think you’d see a 300 square foot condo?

This 60-storey, 739 unit condominium by Lanterra Developments is scheduled for compeltion later this year, and there are a whole lot of 300-something-square-foot units!

It’s incredible because during my search, I found a lot of units that were 350-400 square feet, but there aren’t that many below 350.

Art Shoppe Condos has a lot in the low-300’s, but I figured this one was far more interesting.

The living/dining/kitchen is 11’6″ by 12’4″, and that’s basically your condo.  142 square feet.

Once again, the diagonal-slanted wall makes the space really awkward.

Condo #(-1): “Karma Condos” – Yonge & College

Karma - K277

Smile!

Because I did.

After I found the 300 square foot unit at Wellesley on the Park, I thought I was finished.

But alas, karma struck.

Karma Condos, that is, and their miserable 277 square foot unit.

I do believe that’s the smallest condo available for sale in the city, but please, oh please, let me know if you find one smaller…

So what do you think, folks?

Do any of these tickle your fancy?

Could you live in 277 square feet?

What about 395 square feet?

I welcome your thoughts…

42 Comments

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  1. Chad says:

    300 square feet is just the beginning! Ive seen 100 sq ft spaces with everything inside. That will be normal. How else are young or lower income people going to get into the game?

    Tear down crap house, put up a 3, 100 sq ft units with common laundry room and voila.

    Not yet because of gov regs but they will have to loosen as ownership becomes unattainable for most and solutions will be welcome.

    Says I.

  2. BillyO says:

    Someone bought one of those 277 sq ft units for $370K recently!

    1. Chad says:

      In Ontario?

  3. Jeremy says:

    Size wise these are probably fine for a single person, and possibly doable for a couple depending on the couple. Layout and design are the key. A lofted bed or a murphy bed is probably required to maximize the space, as is making best use of vertical storage possibilities. Smaller fridge just means potentially shopping more (or eating out more) so it would be helpful to know if what’s in the neighbourhood as far as groceries and restaurants. Ultimately it’s a question of trade-offs – Would you rather live downtown in a small space, or commute forever to the burbs? Is there a party room in the building where you can host larger gatherings? (Paying to rent the party room 3-5 times a year is way cheaper then the mortgage increase for a two bedroom.) Are you willing to have a smaller space rather than share with a roommate?

  4. Suza Sarnecki says:

    1. The Tate: I like long hallways. You can put skinny bookcases along it or artwork or pace when you are on the phone. 2. The Ivy: Yes column bad, but you could have a trunk back there, and there is a good amount of wall space and a bit of a hall. 3. 378: Too packed/no wall space/no tub – I need a tub. 4.The Linden: Where do you plug in that TV? The rest blur. You could be living in a motel. My thought is all of these will become seniors housing in the future, with the ground floors converted to service areas.

  5. Carl says:

    Ideal for an Airbnb rental. So a great buy for those who want to own a hotel room.

    1. Doug Homes Ford says:

      All of those sub 450sq/ft units are perfect for the multitude of dating agencies in Toronto.

  6. Alex says:

    Has anyone ever owned a sofa bed that was comfortable to sleep on? I couldn’t imagine that being my actual bed forever.

    1. Sarah says:

      Murphy bed! Yes. We have one in our basement living space – and it is actually very comfortable. Granted, the mattress is of a higher quality and stays flat- as opposed to a sofa bed where it has to be made thinner so it folds.

      1. jeff316 says:

        Yes. Normal bed >>>>>> Murphy >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> sofa bed

    2. Condodweller says:

      The problem with sofabeds are that they are cheap uncomfortable since they are basically designed to keep guests away. They are poorly made with a few springs and wires with a thin foldable crappy mattress I wouldn’t want my dog to sleep on; and I don’t have a dog.

      The trick here is that if it’s going to be your daily sleeper you want to find a good quality sofabed, if it even exists, and if it doesn’t, it’s a good opportunity for someone to make one if these small units are going to become the norm. The problem, of course, is like with anything else, if it is going to be good quality it’s not going to be cheap. If I am going to sleep on it daily I would get the best money can buy.

      A murphy bed would be the obvious alternative however once you do that entertaining is pretty much out the window, or it has to move to the local Strarbucks.

  7. Izzy Bedibida says:

    I’m currently in The Netherlands and showed my brother this article. He says the Dutch government would never allow a 60 storey building with so many tiny units to be built. Nor will it allow such tiny units to proliforate throughout the city.
    Condo living and townhouse living is the norm here. I have not seen any of the cramped, wierd or “unliveable” designs common in the GTA-especially in three bedroom condos.

  8. steve says:

    soooo small ….. so cute!

  9. Katie says:

    I know you said the topic today isn’t 3-bedroom units but maybe you can do the same thing with floor plans for 3-bedrooms?? Tx!

    1. GinaTo says:

      Yeah, I’d love to see that too! Some of them are so ridiculously small…

  10. Basement co-Dweller says:

    The first one(the Tate) is actually the best. Lots of wall space to work with. Windows limit possibilities as do angles and pillars . It is kind of nice to have the bathroom separate from the living space. The Linden? Really, do you want to put on display the fact that you go to the washroom every ten minutes? That would kill any date that you ever invited in. Furniture is the best deceiver of all….its never to scale! Furniture had to be made in condo size for a reason.

  11. Krs Hamilton says:

    I really don’t get it. Most of the condos built within the last 10 years are already well over 60%+ investor owned. These will be 100% investor owned. Owner occupied are the only people that care about the building they live in. These buildings will be run down in no time with so many renters occupying them. I understand there’s a demand for an investment, but you’re just as better off with weed or bitcoin stocks. This is pure speculation for capital appreciation.

    1. steve says:

      Bingo ….

  12. Sardonic Lizard says:

    >> So what do you think, folks?

    I think these developers are trying to take the piss out of all of us. These tiny units are marketed towards property investors, who will rent them out to single persons (young pros, travellers, students, etc.), plain and simple.

    >> Do any of these tickle your fancy?

    Only for the sole purpose of renting it out to some schmuck at a high rental rate.

    >> Could you live in 277 square feet?

    NEVER.

    >> What about 395 square feet?

    Not a chance in hell.

    >> I welcome your thoughts…

    Tell your developer buddies that they will never catch me looking at, let alone buying a property that small.

    1. Daniel. says:

      You’re trolling.

      David isn’t “buddies” with developers. He’s spent a decade hating on them and calling them out.

      1. Sardonic Lizard says:

        No, I am not trolling.

        And you are naive if you think David doesn’t mingle with developers and other industry heavyweights.

        1. @ Sardonic Lizard

          I do not know a single developer. I have never “mingled” with a developer.

          I think the pre-construction condo industry is crooked beyond belief, and I have never done business with a developer.

          I’m not taking this as a personal slight; you and I don’t know each other. Now it’s a matter of whether or not you’ll take me at my word.

          1. Sardonic Lizard says:

            >> I do not know a single developer. I have never “mingled” with a developer.

            I stand corrected, and, will take your word for it.

            >> I think the pre-construction condo industry is crooked beyond belief, and I have never done business with a developer.

            You are a rose among thorns, David. I don’t know whether that’s a good or bad thing.

    2. Doug Homes Ford says:

      Hookers. You mean, hookers.

    3. Chad says:

      Or an affordable way to get into the game for young people.

  13. lui says:

    In Asia and Europe it’s pretty normal to be living in a home smaller than 450sqft.These micro units though are designed with hide away tables and benches,Murphy beds,etc,etc to max out space.I seen some really nice hard lofts in Vancouver that was less than 700 sqft open concept but high ceilings but looked amazing.Toronto cookie cutter designs so much space is wasted with weird floor plans to max out profits.

    1. Boris says:

      Yeah, but Asians are tiny.

      1. KW says:

        They r tiny cuz no place for them to grow! Look at the population! Go live there for a decade, u will become tiny too.

        1. Boris says:

          Yes but Antler of deer and testicle of rat will lead to fastly “growing” asian.

    2. Francesca says:

      In Asia maybe it’s possible that apartments are this small but I can tell you that in Europe they are def bigger. I lived in Milan and Rome for a total of 8 years and I can tell you that the average condo for a family of four was a 120sqm (1100 sq feet approx) for two bedrooms and half of that for a one bedroom unit. I actually found that in Europe apartments were more family sized in general with very small kitchens and bathrooms to make room for larger bedrooms and entertainment/dining spaces. I also lived in Scotland near Edinburgh for 2 years of University and I never came across apartments this small. These condos advertised here are as small as a dorm room! Maybe a single young person would be okay living in such a small space but I def couldn’t even see a couple living in such cramped corners. Nowhere for privacy or a moment to yourself at all! Not having a separate bedroom with a door you can close is a marriage/couple destroyer in my opinion!

  14. Condodweller says:

    I am pretty good at reading floor plans and envisioning a space. Ironically I think the smallest floorplan is the most usable one, though I think I would put up with the pillar in #2 to gain a 100sqft plus a balcony. I have always lived in a condo or similar rental unit and I always insisted on being able to go “outside”. Paying an extra $70k for it is another question however, assuming about $700/sqft which is probably higher by now.

    Are these suitable places to live for an individual or even a family? First of all let’s be honest, these are bachelor/studios not 1 bedrooms or even jr. one bedrooms. I think they are sufficient for a single person or a couple. IMHO the minimum requirement is a place to sleep, a place to cook, and a place to…well, a bathroom. All of these serve that purpose where one can live happily once one accepts and gets used to the size. Having said that I wonder, if we will ever get to where they eliminate the bathroom, since most condos have gyms with bathrooms and a shower, and even perhaps the kitchen or at least minimize it to a sink and a hotplate.

    1. Max says:

      The no-brainer to eliminate would actually be the washer/dryer; that’s basically a closet, and having a shared w/d on the floor is the reality for many rental buildings. However, one can’t have both that and a “luxury” label, so a washer/dryer for every unit it is.

      1. Condodweller says:

        I would put on one of those European two in one front loader units. I think having a bathtub in a small unit is a luxury. Once we get down to these sizes every sqft counts and I would only have a vertical tub, i.e. shower. They could do a marine bathroom with the toilet/shower combo to save even more room.

        I was just at IKEA and they had a model condo that was 229sqft. It was surprisingly livable. It’s a good place to go to get a feel for these small layouts for someone considering a purchase.

  15. jeff316 says:

    These are pretty tight, but this city is also full of bachelor rental apartments so the idea of a pre- and post- work crash pad isn’t that bananas.

  16. Daniel says:

    The average size of units has actually been going up for the last two years. Also, i believe the big 5 still have rules against issuing mortgages on sub 400 sf units.

    Lastly, i’d rather have 375 sf with a good layout, and $40k worth of custom cabinetry and furniture, than 425 sf. Neither are large enough

    1. lui says:

      Daniel seems banks are hesitant for units less than 500sqft when I was getting a remortgage but I heard from my broker that level was brought down to around 450sqft since the newer projects are flooded with these tiny floor plans.

  17. Marina says:

    I lived in Japan for a year, and my place was smaller than this. It worked only because I used it basically to sleep, and that’s about it. Also, the bed was lofted above the living space, which does give you more options.
    These definitely look to be good to rent, and only for students, young people who travel a lot or work ridiculous hours, or ex-pats who are in the city for a year or so and just need a cheaper space to call their own temporarily.

    However, I think this is a business opportunity for up and coming interior designers – specialize in ultra small spaces.

  18. A Grant says:

    I dunno – I would imagine that the vast majority of these units will be purchased by investors. So the concept of “liveability” probably doesn’t enter into the equation. And if I were renter (i.e. student, etc.) with limited resources looking for a bachelor to rent, I’ve seen worse…

    That said, I think the real question cities will soon have to grapple with is: “what is the smallest space your family can live in”? The appetite for large square footage (and the resulting sprawl) is generally a North American expectation. In most of the “great” cities in the world, families make do with a lot less.

  19. Kramer says:

    Amazing. I’d kill to go back in time and be going to university and live in one of these instead of essentially the same thing but in a disgusting 50 year old apartment building.

    A perfect income property if you had time for that kind of thing… rent to a student, and it’s only big enough for them to study and sleep – no big parties.

    Price however… well I hope a 277 square footer is $199,999 or less.

    1. steve says:

      what’s the price? anybody know?

  20. Pkap007 says:

    I think if ur a student or a bachelor with limited resources any living space would work. Other day in one of my grips on whatsapp so own posted that in all major cities 50-60% of the people can only afford to rent and people in Toronto should wake up to that realty that home ownership is not a right..while I don’t agree to the last part or way it was put but given that rents have been skyrocketing along with condo prices such micro condos will come to be the norm

    1. steve says:

      It would be ironic if it came to pass … people living in 250 sq ft apartments in the 2nd largest country in the world! Talk about manufactured scarcity!

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