Micro-apartments as an alternative to roommates

Back in July New York’s Mayor Bloomberg launched a competition to design and build “Micro-Units,” small apartments adapted to “how New Yorkers live today.”

The micro-unit concept has spawned a great deal of chatter recently, with viewpoints ranging from self-serving to humorous to thought-provoking. The following quote is from an article on the topic at Atlantic Cities:

What’s interesting to me … is that micro-apartments are really a new alternative to having several roommates. Does the trend mean that this generation is less willing to live with others? Or has the need/desire for these solitary spaces been there all along, while the micro-apartment solution was not?” This makes me think of Eric Klinenberg’s research on singles living alone, and how more of us than ever are doing that, even as some people choose to live in much larger spaces, with roommates, into their forties.

Micro-sized apartments are not new to Chicago, which has seen many apartment hotels and single-room occupancy buildings in desirable lakefront neighborhoods converted to apartments, and several conversions are currently underway. I recently snapped the above picture at one, which clearly qualifies as a micro-unit. It has a two-burner electric cooktop and a microwave in lieu of a stove with an oven, but it does have a dishwasher. It’s in a location with dozens of restaurants within a few minutes’ walk, and rents for under $1,000 a month. Is it adapted to “how Chicagoans live today?”