Apartments get smaller as storage heaters balloon in size
What's the number one rule in real estate? Location, location, location. A beachfront bungalow might fetch more on the market than an inland mansion, and though interior design and luxury home amenities can make any house more comfortable, there's nothing like finding an apartment or condo in the city of your dreams.
However, if they get their first-choice destination, many apartment dwellers have to sacrifice size. Across the country, urban and suburban apartment units are decreasing in size – and renters are pretty much fine with the tradeoff. Although, when new energy efficiency regulations for storage-type heaters kick in April 15, renters in search of these machines that are small enough to fit in their units might be out of luck
The incredible shrinking apartment
Some densely populated cities like New York and Chicago have gained reputations for having millions of shoebox-sized apartments that desperate 20-somethings happily rent for pennies on the dollar. However, Multifamily Executive explained that, while average apartment square footage grew for much of the 20th century, the current number sits at just 982 square feet. In some cities, like Seattle and San Francisco, the average is actually closer to 750 square feet.
"The building will have 55 units that range from compact 260-square foot rooms to cavernous 360-square foot versions."
However, the real sign of how small the American apartment has become can be found in NYC. The New York Times reported that, after years of policy wrangling and development, the city's first "micro-apartment complex" is scheduled to begin renting units this summer. Dubbed "My Micro NY," the building will have 55 units that range from compact 260-square foot rooms to roomy 360-square foot versions, which will go for between $2,000 and $3,000 per month. For decades, NYC had a law prohibiting new apartments from measuring less than 400-square feet, but these micro-apartments are bucking the trend as more single renters want their own spaces.
Like a game of Tetris
Living in apartments this small requires a bit of logistical expertise. It goes without saying that space is at a premium in smaller units, but things become even tighter when appliances, furniture and even your bed has to be folded or pushed up against a wall to create living space. This might not sound like a bad idea, but when you start to think about all the closet space you're cutting out to fit in these other necessities, you might realize that there's little room for your water heater.
You'll need all the space you can get, too. Due to new energy efficiency regulations on storage water heaters built after April 15, all new models will take up much more space than their predecessors. The National Association of Home Builders explained that heaters of 55 gallons or less will balloon up by about 2 inches in height and diameter. If you don't have the space for this, you could buy a model of the same size, but insulation inside the tank cuts down on hot water volume – if you like to take long showers, you could be drench with icy water in minutes.
With more young renters and homeowners willing to live in smaller spaces, their water heating options need to reflect this space-conscious trend. Unlike storage models, tankless water heaters have such low profiles that you can install them under sinks, at the back of closets, or just against a wall. Because tankless heaters don't need to store water before heating it, there's no cumbersome tank to steal precious room in small units.