In 2020, Alex Verhaeg moved into a 95 sq. ft. apartment in Manhattan’s East Village. He paid $1,000 a month. “People might call this place a room or a closet, but to me, it is home,” Verhaeg told CNBC Make It.
The 23-year-old barber, bike messenger, and content creator found the apartment on Zillow and only got to see the space in photos before he moved in.
“It was a little bit of a shock when I saw how small it was, but I wanted to try living in this area,” he said. “Any space can be made into a home, no matter how big or small that space is. You just gotta put some love into it.”
Verhaeg’s mom co-signed his lease, and the upfront costs for his move were $2,000: $1,000 for the first month’s rent and $1,000 for the security deposit. His rent has since increased to $1,100 a month.
Verhaeg’s tiny apartment doesn’t come with a bathroom. Instead, the five-story building has residents sharing the thretoiletsms and two showers on each floor.
“Living here can sort of feel like you’re in the college dorms because of the shared amenities,” he said. “Sometimes you’ll see your neighbours in a towel or a bathrobe. You get used to it.”
In addition to not having a bathroom, the apartment also lacks a traditional kitchen. Verhaeghe has an electric cooktop on top of a dresser he uses for food storage. The apartment has a sink in the corner with a medicine cabinet, which Verhaeg refers to as his bathroom area. It also has one closet and a small loft space where he stores his clothes and barber tool kit.
“The main benefit of living in such a small space is that it makes you appreciate your things and be a minimalist,” he said. “You can’t just go out and buy random things because you don’t have the space to store them.”
Verhaeghe has been living in the East Village apartment for two years now. He told CNBC Make It that earlier this year, when his rent went up $100, he didn’t mind the increase because he doesn’t pay any utilities. He added that although he plans on staying in the 95 sq. ft. apartment for the third year, it will probably be his last.