While Covid-19 ushered us into wanting bigger spaces to accommodate a home office and more breathing space, some people are questioning the pros and cons of ‘living large’ with some even considering the polar opposite – microliving
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The fundamental idea of microliving is trading the luxury of space, usually found in the suburbs, for a significantly smaller space in the trendy heart of the metro where all the action can be found and where real estate prices are usually high.
“The definition of microliving is geographically dependent, but on our KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, it means living in a sectional title property ranging in size from about 15m2 to 30m2 and priced between R500,000 and R1m. The target market is millennial creatives and professionals ranging from 20 to 35 years of age,” says Gareth Bailey, area principal, Pam Golding Properties Durban Coastal, who challenges the mindset of “bigger is better”.
“By buying a smaller space, the overall ticket price is more affordable, and if the development is designed properly, this doesn’t come at a lifestyle cost as facilities match and often exceed those found in a lavish suburban home – albeit these are shared between the resident community.”
Close to the action
Bailey says by being in the heart of the action, microdwellers in these sectional title units enjoy walking access to the metro’s top-rated attractions, entertainment options and amenities. The central location usually also enables walking to the workplace and key transport hubs.
“This way of living begs the question of whether owning a car is even necessary. If the development provides an Uber collect-and-drop facility, shuttle service or car pool arrangement, these millennials may well choose to discard the inconvenient rigidity of monthly car instalments, fuel and maintenance and rather opt for the ultimate freedom and flexibility of a pay-as-you-go solution. After all, the end goal of microliving is to have ultimate flexibility and maximum lifestyle with minimum admin.”
Another upside is the sense of community and lifestyle – post-Covid – as residents engage with other like-minded people in activities such as gym, yoga, Pilates, or even catching up over a cup or glass of the latest brew all within the boundaries of the scheme.
The living space itself requires innovative design to facilitate space saving and an example of this is having a fold-up bed that doubles as a dining room table, or which may even be raised above the living area altogether to free up space in the apartment, Bailey says.
It adds up
“The microliving sectional title proposition may also make good financial sense as it allows buyers to get onto the property ladder by acquiring apartments in fantastic areas that would usually be financially out of reach. In addition, when the time comes to move on, the purchaser may choose to rent out the property at a high yield or re-leverage and buy a second property, thereby facilitating the growth of a property portfolio.”
Size vs lifestyle
Bailey says the microliving model dismisses the traditional notion of valuing property purely on a price-per-square-metre basis and rather requires investors to fully appreciate the value proposition of the development and the lifestyle – centrality, convenience, facilities and community – that it has to offer.
“Fortunately, renters have long shed the umbilical attachment to the price-per-square-metre valuation method, opting rather to value property based on the above appealing benefits.
“Consider holidaymakers, for example, who would far rather have centrality and access to the main attractions over a larger apartment further away from the action. Holidaymakers are seeking a hassle-free good time, and they don’t differ too much from microdwellers in this respect,” he says.
While a microliving apartment may be expensive when judged by traditional criteria, as long as the development is designed to satisfy the needs of its target market, tenants will find value and be prepared to pay in excess of traditional square metre rates.
“Some people may feel that microliving is claustrophobic, while others may really connect with this minimalist approach to living that simultaneously maximises flexibility, lifestyle and sense of community. I don’t think this is for everyone, but I definitely think that it’s going to appeal to an increasing number of millennials seeking to do things on their own terms.”
One example of microliving spaces available is Onyx, an upmarket sectional title residential development in the Gateway precinct in uMhlanga on the KZN North Coast. The one-bedroom loft apartments are priced from R1,59m.
Another prime example is Roundabout Brooklyn, situated in Pretoria in trendy Muckleneuk Street, which is walking distance from Brooklyn Mall, a nearby park and upmarket schools. It comprises one, two and three-bedroom sectional title apartments selling from R1,901,447.