Micro-cottages need little introduction in the way of concept, but their uses, designs and purpose vary as much as the imaginations of those who create them.
Some people sell their sprawling suburban homes and live in them. Others build them on their properties, as guest lodging, or an in-law apartment or extra rental income. Others hitch them to their car and travel across the continent with them. Others minimize their environmental footprint with them. Some combine these functions in ingenious ways.
Consider a micro-cottage that can be rented out to chic-minded travelers through sites like Airbnb for half of each month, bringing in an extra $450/month, ten months out of the year. Then you slip it onto a trailer and go on a two-month tour of the American Southwest, setting it down wherever the desert vista calls to you.
Or perhaps imagine living with a zero carbon footprint, with a micro-cottage that features rainwater reclamation, composting toilets and a garden roof. If that sounds too extreme, maybe it merely serves as guest lodging, putting some extra separation between you and your kooky spinster aunt when she comes and visits. Eco-friendly tourists are also suckers for this sort of thing, and love to rent these imaginative dwellings for a night or three in the course of their travels.
Seattle-based Calhoun Properties addressed Seattle's affordable housing problem by launching “aPodments”, offering pint-sized apartments short on space but long on affordability. None are as large as an average efficiency, typically ranging from 150-300 square feet, and some are estimated to have actual living areas the size of a parking space. Some offer additional amenities like kitchenettes and Wi-Fi, and range in price from $350-$800/month with utilities included. The price is considerably less than their full-sized counterparts in downtown Seattle and they come completely furnished.
One critic of micro-apartments referred to them as “boarding houses on steroids”; an exaggerated but sometimes accurate description in that they often share communal kitchens, bathrooms and open living and/or outdoor spaces. While appearing on the outside like normal apartment buildings, apodments are more closely akin to dorm rooms and boarding houses, and were originally believed to only attract a younger tenant base with no appeal to older, more established tenants. But residents are disproving this theory as many middle-aged professionals as well as seniors have found themselves enjoying the ease, convenience and, of course, low rents associated with micro-apartment living.
Micro housing is emerging in some areas for investors as the next rental trend.