Living Small

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As most of you will know, I’m a big fan of minimalism. Well, I’m getting a chance to put that to the test here, in Buenos Aires. The condo that I am residing in is a studio, and it is only 36 m² (388 ft.²). That includes of course, a bathroom with shower and bathtub, and what could charitably be called a micro kitchen. There is a respectable size balcony outside the room, but I don’t think that’s included in the floor space number.

So, how is that working out for me? Not too bad actually. Of course, if I owned this apartment, I would certainly add some more storage and make things a little bit more efficient. The owners have a sofa bed in here, and I don’t think I would ever do that. Instead of having a dining room table and a sofa, I would put in something that was more of a work desk area that could double as a dining room table if needed. Maybe a single large reclining chair. And more shelf units on the wall. The wardrobe is singularly inefficient and could be considerably improved upon. Wall mounting a bigger TV would also help. But all in all, it’s not too bad at all.

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I also would stay away from fabrics for furniture. Fake leather, or wood, or washable cushions everywhere except for the bed. Cuts down on surfaces that have a love affair with dust 😊

Now, I don’t think that for long-term living, that this is quite enough space. The primary drawback that I see is the kitchen. If one ever wanted to cook, it would be very difficult to prevent the odors and grease from the stove from spreading out far beyond where the kitchen is. And as you may also know, I’m a bit of a clean freak. So that doesn’t work for me.

The very cool thing that I take away from living in this small of a space, is that it gives me a very accurate idea about what would be ideal for me in the long run. And although it wouldn’t be huge, I could see where I could very easily be extremely comfortable in the space of about 80 m² (861 ft.²). I still very much like the studio plan, but 80 m² would give me enough space to be able to have a guest half bathroom, and the ability to put up some Chinese type wall screens in certain places so that you could gain some privacy if you needed (I am thinking in particular about being able to have a screen between the kitchen area and the rest of the studio simply to prevent the dispersion of airborne grease droplets and odors).

And that would provide enough additional space to be able to store the things that make me feel comfortable, for example, adequate bed linens and towels so that they can be changed twice a week.

But I certainly didn’t find that I was lacking anything with what I was able to bring in one large suitcase and one mini duffel bag. And the mini duffel bag was for items that were somewhat bulky and weighty that I consider to be supplies. These are things that I preferred not to try to purchase in Argentina simply because they tend to be imported and very expensive, E.g. protein powder and my Athletic Greens. The only item of any type that I have purchased here for the household, was a French press. I didn’t like the coffee brewing machine they had in the apartment, and the coffee sachets that they sell here are just not very flavorful.

So, all in all, it’s been an interesting experience so far. But I do find that it’s quite comfortable for me. I actually may be going overboard by saying that I need 80 m². The main reason for that number is so as to allow provision for a guest half bathroom, which is something that I personally consider to be nonnegotiable. That being said, it’s extremely hard to find any type of a studio anywhere in the world that actually has that. Normally, at least in Asia, you would end up having to try to buy something a one bedroom and knocked out one of the walls, or if you could find two studios next to each other buy both units and then knocked out the interior wall to redesign it. However, that’s doubtful I’ll ever do that, because again I’m a rent rather than buy person. The idea of actually buying a condo or a house really holds no attraction for me whatsoever.

 A French Press - Indespensable :-)

A French Press - Indespensable :-)

And as for the kitchen, I think that there are ways to take a small space and make it far more efficient for actually cooking. If one purchased a standalone convection oven, you can do away completely with a built-in oven. And then purchase a small two burner induction cooker for a cooking surface. That allows you to maximize your counterspace for food prep and storage space. You don’t need a lot of dishes, pots and pans. Personally, I consider a slow cooker to be a must-have item. And, speaking as someone who has an extremely wide range of kitchen and cooking utensils, you don’t need 80% of most of that stuff (unless you are a semiprofessional chef, or a real foodie – and I’m neither). But as a person living alone who is an occasional cook, the number of pots, pans, utensils you need is really quite small. A couple of knives, some plastic or wooden mixing spoons, a good frying pan, a good pot, a slow cooker, and that’s it.

Of course, I predicate all of this on someone who basically lives alone the vast majority of the time. If you’re a couple, let alone a couple with children of course, almost none of this is going to apply.

A good friend of mine, my roommate in fact in Asia, because of some work that’s being done in the house, actually moved all of his furniture and bedroom into our living room to set up just like it was a studio apartment, and he’s really happy with it. I can only see it over the security camera but it does look extremely cozy.

I think the thing that I like most about a studio apartment, is just how convenient everything is. I imagine that if one is not a neat person it might not be a very attractive way to live. But I certainly find that living in a small space resonates with me.