How tiny is ‘tiny’?

I saw an article last week about NY’s Mayor Bloomberg starting a competition to develop 30-square-metre apartments in New York city. Great!, I thought. Affordable housing for people who don’t need much space!

And then I had a little giggle about the cries of, “Thirty square metres??!?? Is that fit for human habitation??” (and the fact that it was a UK newspaper doing the crying and we all know pommies live in cardboard-box-sized houses, made me giggle even more.)

Just for the record, I’ve lived with another person in 33-square-metres (which also included the balcony space for hanging out your washing and futon and all the thickness of the concrete walls so the living space was more like 28 square-metres). And the person I was living with had a.lot.of.shit.

Because he was a man.

And men, I’ve learned, like to hoard things because it makes them feel immortal.

(At least, that’s my theory anyway.)

Of course, I was living in Yokohama at the time of the 33m², but in the ten and a half years I lived in Japan, I never lived anywhere that was bigger than 40 square metres. Actually, I don’t think I would have known what to do if I had more than 2 rooms to live in!

It’s quite possible to have a whole family living in 40m² in Japan (particularly Tokyo) but I’m sure most people would interject, “Yeah, but that’s Japan! You can’t expect Australians or New Yorkers to live like that!”

Well, actually you can. And you’d be surprised how uncomplicated your life can be when you don’t have so much stuff (because we all know, the more space you have, the more stuff you accumulate).

I’ve talked a little about housing in Japan before in my quirky japan series, but just as a recap, here’s a nice ‘one room’ studio apartment in a suburb of Tokyo that you can rent for 100,000 yen per month:

It’s 18m². You’ve got your bath & toilet, kitchenette, storage space, a shoe box (SB), balcony, two windows and 7.5 tatami mats worth of space (with wooden flooring boards). Here’s a quick vid of what something similar actually looks like inside:

A great deal of Tokyo’s 40-odd million people (at least most of the single ones and quite a few of the couples) would live in something similar to this. It’s more than habitable.

Honestly, us folk here living in the lands of space aplenty, have no idea what can be achieved in a small space with proper use of furniture that multitasks and good storage solutions. Oh, and don’t forget that a nice bit of danshari will work wonders.

I suppose the difference between say, Perth, where I live and Tokyo is that most people here spend a lot of time in their house. They do things at home, people entertain at home, weekends are often spent at home, whereas in Tokyo you go out. You meet people out, you eat out, you find all your entertainment out. Your house is really nothing more than a place to sleep and a place to store your stuff.

I miss those days sometimes.


9 thoughts on “How tiny is ‘tiny’?

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  1. It doesn’t sound that bad to me – if I was a single person or just a couple, what more than that would I need? We currently live in about 86 square meters with my mom and our child. My mom makes it hard because she doesn’t really know how to cohabitate, but we could deal with half the space or less if it was just us.

    1. I think you definitely need some space between you to have the illusion of alone time (if you don’t live with someone who is always absent – the best scenario ever!)

  2. The kitchen in that video gives me the collywobbles. How does anyone cook? (By eating out, obviously, as you said.) Our house is about 610m² for the six of us, and it’s huge. The last house we had in the city was about 425m².

    1. I used to do a lot of cooking prep in my sink, because my sink was actually bigger than any counter space I had. I guess you just make do with what you’ve got. But I found in Japan it was generally cheaper to eat out if there were only one or two of you. 610 square metres???? Wow…I’d hate to think of the cleaning involved 🙂

  3. it’s amazing just how tiny a space is inhabitable 🙂
    I think we’re amazingly spoilt in Australia, with all this s p a c e

    1. Oohhhh! A linky to a documentary type thingy!!! I love this sort of stuff. I shall watch on Saturday morning with my big arse cappucino! Ty 🙂
      And it is absolutely about using space effectively.

    2. I’m so thinking that if I had my life over, I’d do the tiny house thing. That doco was so interesting! Thank you for the link.

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