'I Lived in a New York Micro-Apartment the Size of a Parking Spot'

In 2021, I was living in a luxury apartment in Midtown, New York with two of my friends. We paid $1,950 each monthly for rent, which was expensive for us.

When I first moved to New York, I wanted the luxury living experience that I had seen in movies, but I was surprised to find out that things weren't as glamorous as they had seemed.

I was told that the luxury apartment that I was staying in was pet-friendly, but when I would bring my dog into the lobby, I was met with rude responses from the tenants and some of the staff. I also felt that the service wasn't good for the price that I was paying, so I figured that saving money to travel was better than living in a luxury apartment.

At the time, a friend of mine told me that she had found a cheap apartment in SoHo for $750, and I was shocked. The idea of living in a small apartment for such a cheap price was very cool.

Alaina Lives in New York Micro Apartment
In 2021, Alaina Randazzo (pictured) moved into one of New York's tiniest micro-studio apartments in Midtown, Manhattan. Alaina Randazzo

I quickly began browsing online and I came across a very tiny studio flat that was $650 a month. I was skeptical at first because of how small it was, but I toured the room next to the apartment to see what it was like.

When I arrived at the neighboring apartment, it had a very tiny hallway and it was almost impossible to fit a bed in it. A lot of my friends told me not to move into the apartment that was available next door, but, I knew that I could make something good out of it.

New York is known as the city of dreams, and I'm a free spirit. So, I put a deposit on the micro-apartment in January 2022 and moved into it, the following month.

It wasn't a big deal for me that I had to sacrifice a comfortable living space for a year because I wanted to be smart with my money. As well as being a media planner, I'm also a content creator on YouTube and I knew that if I wanted to fulfill my dreams and explore the world in my early 20s, I had to sacrifice living luxuriously for a while.

Moving into a micro-apartment for a year

To my surprise, I was very excited about the flat when I first moved in. It was slightly bigger than the one I had seen next door to it, but it was still only 80 square feet, which is roughly the same size as a parking spot.

When I first saw the room, it was a small box with a loft inside that I later turned into a bunk bed. Although my friends suggested that I put a mattress on the first floor and use the loft for storage, I decided to put a mattress on top of the loft and place a small couch downstairs and my dog's crate, which took up half of the floor.

When I slept at night, the bed was very close to the ceiling which made me a little claustrophobic, but thankfully, I never fell down into the main space.

Originally, the small apartment came with a TV and it had a very tiny kitchenette area with no oven or dishwasher. It also wasn't as clean as I thought it would be; there were mice and bugs in the place.

But I'm a pretty creative person at heart, so, I built a side table to place dishes, pots, and pans, and to save space, I hung my clothes on a pole above my lofted bed and that became my clothing rack.

What I found weird was that the floors in the apartment were slanted. So, I couldn't place anything on the floor without it sliding. For example, when I first bought a couch, I noticed that I was gliding while sitting on it. I found this quite funny, and I bought non-slip pads to stop your couch from moving.

I also had a private bathroom that was in the communal hallway, but it didn't bother me. I thought that typically if one is living in a flat with other roommates, their bathroom would usually be situated in a public area anyway.

There were five people living on my floor and I often bumped into my neighbor as her bathroom was right across the hall from my flat.

Alaina Lives in New York Micro Apartment
Inside Alaina Randazzo's micro-studio apartment in Midtown, Manhattan. Alaina Randazzo

One downfall to the micro-apartment was that there was only one small window attached to the roof and other than that, I couldn't see the outside world. Luckily, during the summertime, the apartment had a shared roof that I often visited.

I found it difficult to work in the apartment because I felt like I was in a very small box, so I couldn't be as creative as I wanted to be. Instead, I went to different coffee shops to do my work, but that was difficult at times as I needed to be in a quiet setting in order to focus.

Saving money to travel

Overall, I spent $1,000 decorating the apartment. Within the first few weeks of moving into the flat, I bought a couch, a mattress, and a fold-out desk and chair. But during the year that I had lived in the apartment, I saved over $17,000. It was exciting to see.

I invested that money and I also traveled a lot. I visited Iceland for three weeks, California for a few weeks, and I am going to Bali in February 2022. It was nice to be able to explore my creativity and take time off work to travel.

I also took a leap of faith and delved into my creative art more. If I was middle-aged and had kids and a family, I wouldn't have been able to move into such a small apartment. I knew that because I only had my dog to look after, it was a good choice for me to save money.

I think in life, we become so caught up with working and paying bills, that we forget to live freely and take risks, so I am glad that I lived in that apartment for a year.

Alaina Randezzo Lived in a Micro Apartment
Inside Alaina Randazzo's micro-studio apartment in Midtown, Manhattan. Alaina Randazzo

Moving into a big town-house

Towards the beginning of 2023, I moved out of the small apartment and into a five-bedroom house in the East Village. It's huge; we have an living room, a spacious kitchen with a wine cellar, a backyard for summer parties, and a downstairs basement with a washer and dryer. I'm only paying $1,350 for it a month and I also have a very big room with lots of windows.

Transitioning from living in a micro-apartment to a townhouse was a breath of fresh air. Some people in the micro-flats had lived there for over 10 years, which I couldn't do. I believe that living in a very small space for longer than a year can affect your mental health. So, I recognize that there is a time and a place for everything, and I knew towards the end of 2022, that it was time to move on.

Alaina Randezzo Lived in a Micro Apartment
Alaina Randazzo's room in her East Village town-house. Alaina Randazzo

In my current place, I am able to journal, meditate, and create YouTube content.
But living in the micro-apartment made me realize that in life, you don't need a ton of material things to be happy, the company that you keep is more important than the things you own.

My friends helped me a lot throughout 2022, if I didn't have them, it would have been way more difficult for me to live in that apartment.

I believe that our outlook and our positivity play a big role in how the rest of our lives pan out. Although many people on the internet told me that living in such a small space was very bad for me, I learned to trust myself and to take risks.

Alaina Randazzo is a high fashion campaign planner, YouTuber, podcaster, and travel creator. She moved into one of New York's tiniest micro-studio apartments in Midtown, Manhattan. You can find out more about her here.

All views expressed in this article are the author's own.

As told to Newsweek associate editor, Carine Harb.

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