We love this article by the Wall Street Journal, particularly of the image of where the American ‘Family’ spends their time. It brings to mind my childhood growing up in Miami, where 90% out of the year my family ate on the bar table in the kitchen and spent most of our time in the family room. Heck I remember a time when I was a really small kid and my brother and parents would snuggle up onto our king sized bed in the master bedroom. It’s amazing how our physical footprint shrinks and how much void a house can have.
Putting this in perspective and living in Hong Kong, I am currently experiencing the other end of the spectrum (great read). From living in the largest average sized home at the time to arguably one of the smallest average sized homes in the world now, I have a developed a new relationship with space.
That’s why I find the Tiny Home/Micro Apartment movement in America fascinating because they are doing a very noble thing – but it ain’t easy. Having lived in an average 475 sq-ft space for 8 years, it’s a constant battle of needs vs wants. You have to stretch your imagination and be super resourceful! I also find it interesting that a tiny home/micro apartment in the USA help people live a mortgage free life; while here in Hong Kong, good luck saving 40% up for a down payment and handling a 30 year mortgage and living in a 400-500 sq-ft apartment with a family of 4.
The trade-off living in a small apartment here in Hong Kong however, is a world class transportation system and second to none convenience. I can take a 10 minute tram ride to play basketball in a well maintained gym & work. I can walk for 15 minutes and be by the harbor front. I can have an assortment of cuisines literally downstairs from where I live. Farmer’s markets, Cantonese style diners, random bric-a-brac stores are abundant and a strong sense of community depending on your niche (dog owner) is nice to have.
If I were to come up with a home; with minimal footprint for a family of 2-4 people and also considering how kids grow up and move on, it would be this:
- 800 square feet with a square floor plan & high ceilings
- A balcony/courtyard
- Windows facing northeast and southwest for optimal cross ventilation
- City living, proximity and convenience
- World class public transport; preferably green.
- Bicycle / scooter / skateboard lanes (basically lanes to encourage use of smaller greener vehicles)
| Spaced Out