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Like You, Boston Micro-Apartments Can't Escape the Rent

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The Globe's Casey Ross goes to San Francisco to check on that city's efforts to create micro-apartments as small as 295 square feet, and finds mixed success: They're catching on, though the city's limiting them so as not to make too much new housing solely for singletons and not for families. But, like in Boston, both the private and public sectors out West seem to be banging up against the same reality regarding micro-apartments: The rent may be too damn high.

In the case of the 295-square-foot micro-apartment in San Francisco, it's $1,600 a month. Some Boston counterparts (albeit bigger) go for hundreds more than that, begging the question: At what price retaining young professionals? Much of the micro-apartment-as-urban-solution has been predicated on the notion of trading space for affordability.

But we've discovered along the way that affordability is a relative term; it might mean, for instance, $2,299 for a 600-square-foot "innovation unit" in the Innovation District. Might the young professionals targeted for such micro-apartments opt instead for larger ones at the same price, even if it involves a commute by public transit (or a 10-block walk in one of America's most walkable urban areas)? They might. No one knows.

And that's the other thing: So much of the micro-apartment trend seems to be driven by a throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks mentality, particularly among public officials. San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee actually told Ross, "We need to try building [micro-units] and see whether it adds value to the housing stock." And if it doesn't?
· Micro Apartments Could be Answer to Urban Housing Crunch [Globe]
· Are Boston Micro-Apartments for Real? [Curbed Boston]
· Here's How Much Micro-Apartments in Southie Could Go For [Curbed Boston]