What it's really like to live in a 'micro-flat' as developers build small to tackle UK housing crisis

February 13, 2018
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In a bid to tackle the UK’s housing crisis, hundreds of tiny micro-flats have been built.

The tiny properties – designed to save space and money – typically have no hallways and no dining room.

The unusual new builds have also split opinion.

Some young people have welcomed the fact that the flats will help them get on the property ladder as house prices rise.

But others have called them “glorified rabbit hutches”.

The Croydon Advertiser took a look to find out what it is really like to live in one.

Inspired Homes, which has five blocks of micro-flats in Croydon, agreed to let our reporter, Sarah George, spend the night in one. Here’s what she discovered during her stay…

Are micro-flats the future of housing or just glorified rabbit hutches?
(Image: Inspired Homes)

The layout

The apartment I stayed in, in Central Cross on South End, is one of the developer’s smallest one-bedroom properties.

Measuring just 31 square metres in total, you are in the living room – one of just three rooms in the property – when you walk in.

The living room is connected to the kitchen, which does not have a dining table or any chairs. Instead, there is a large L-shaped sofa and a coffee table which triples in size when you fold it out.

On the right are the bathroom – which consists of a toilet, a sink and a shower in a bath – and the bedroom.

The compact bathroom
(Image: Inspired Homes)

The bedroom looks much bigger than you’d expect – until you realise there’s no wardrobe and that the bed is actually a little smaller than a standard double.

If residents are feeling a bit cooped up, they are encouraged to make use of the communal residents’ lounge and roof terrace at Green Dragon House, which is a short walk away.

Overall, the flat feels a lot more spacious than I thought it would but I know that’s because it has been kitted out by an interior designer who knew what she was doing, and not by me after a splurge in IKEA.

There are only two windows in the flat – one in the living room and one in the bedroom.

The price

A flat like this in Central Cross will set you back at least £279,950 – which will bag you one of the smallest one-bedroom properties.

Meanwhile a similar apartment in Innova – the developer’s new block of luxury flats, on Edridge Road, costs about £324,000.

The priciest one-bedroom flat on the market at the moment is a £392,950 luxury property – which has a pull-down divider so you can turn part of your living room into a second bedroom.

The flats typically have no hallway or dining room
(Image: Inspired Homes)

The people who live in the flats are a mix of renters and first-time buyers, I am told by Alexi Ghavami, marketing manager for the development.

Promotional material released by Inspired states that the cost “offers young professionals the opportunity to buy a home at a price they can afford” and that a couple earning £20,000 each per year could get a mortgage for one with assistance from the Government‘s help to buy scheme.

Martin Skinner, CEO of Inspired Homes, said the prices “are around 20% more affordable” than similar properties which have 50 square metres of floorspace.

But I’m sure that for many young people, including myself, they are still way out of reach – especially if you want to live alone.

First impressions

The first thing I notice about the flat is not its size but how warm it is inside.

Because it is so tiny and so well-insulated, it’s about 29C inside even with the heating on its lowest setting.

The living room of the flat Sarah stayed in
(Image: Inspired Homes)

On the plus side, there’s a lot more cupboard space in the kitchen than I thought there would be, and there’s even a dishwasher.

The granite worktops in the kitchen and hob which can be used as a counter-top when it’s turned off are also nice touches.

There’s plenty of room for me to sit and eat a takeaway but I can’t help but wonder if I’d feel the same if I had people over – or if I was with my partner.

There is no TV in the flat and, bar attaching one to the bedroom wall, I can’t imagine where I’d put one.

For many first-time buyers, it’s the only way to get on the property ladder
(Image: Inspired Homes)

What do residents think?

Takeaway devoured, I head to the residents’ lounge to ask people what it’s like to live in a micro-flat for more than just a night.

Claire Strudwick, 27, who lives in a one-bed flat in Green Dragon House with her boyfriend, said it was the “only way” she could get on the property ladder but that it “wasn’t perfect”.

“I was really desperate to move out of my family home but couldn’t afford to rent while saving for a flat at the same time, and I couldn’t afford a full-size flat” she explained.

“I really like that we have our own place without throwing money away on rent each month – but we are still getting used to the size.

“I still have to keep loads of my stuff at my mum’s house – so it’s not perfect but it’s a start. Really, it was the only way we could get on the property ladder in Croydon.”

Laura Brown, 30, also lives in a one-bed flat in the same block – but she rents and lives alone.

She added: “It feels a lot more spacious than I expected but because I live by myself and work long hours, I don’t really spend a lot of time at home so I think I don’t notice how small it is as much.

“For me, it’s not too small or too expensive but I know that won’t be the case for everyone.

“It’s not for everyone but moving here has made me realise how much junk I kept that I didn’t need.”

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