Size Matters … Condo Living – Fad Housing or Future Slums

Condo Living – Fad Housing or Future Slums

June 2017

As more high-rise condo buildings grow larger and condo suite sizes grow smaller, we risk overcrowding and health issues.

Most agree that urban sprawl is a problem.  It wastes energy and space while reducing farmland.  Yet there is a lack of consensus on what is too small and when overcrowding occurs.

One thing we know is that the popular housing of today can become tomorrow’s slums.  And this is something we want to avoid.  We also know that small living spaces can affect our mental and physical health.   Symptoms include depression, drug addiction and alcoholism.  School age children may do poorly in school.

In the 1800s people lived in basements and attics lacking both light and ventilation.  Tuberculosis was a problem.  More recently, studies have shown that the likelihood of a child contracting meningitis is dramatically higher when living in an overcrowded home.

So … what is small when it comes to housing?

So … what is small when it comes to housing?

Small for a family with children may be large for a single person working in the city.

The average size of a new house was about 1,000 square feet in 1975.  Today it is about 1,950 square feet.  More space allows for more comfort and luxuries.  It also makes a home more expensive to purchase and maintain.

Generally speaking, we know that many live comfortably in less than 1,000 square feet.  We also see few condos available that are less than 500 square feet.  Condo sales data show that only about 1% of all condos sold are less than 500 square feet.

The smallest condos that appeal to purchasers, based on sales data, are 500-600 square feet.  This represents about 20% of all condo purchases.  While there may be a market for smaller sized condos, this market is quite small and unlikely to appeal to the vast majority of today’s home owners.