A Gen Z couple pays $1,300 for a New York City microstudio. Here’s how they made it work for them and their cat.

Elana Wallach and her partner Luis Cortorreal split a tiny microstudio in the East Village.

Luis Cortorreal

A Gen Z couple each pay $650 a month for a microstudio they split in the East Village.
With such little space, they’ve made it their own with dozens of posters and a tiny kitchen.
They say looking out over bustling St. Marks Place makes the apartment even more special.

Elana Wallach, 22, and her partner Luis Cortorreal, 25, paid just $700 for a room in a two-bedroom apartment in Baltimore. When they were looking around Manhattan this summer, though, nothing came close to that price and they decided they needed to downsize.

Even most studios and one-bedrooms in Manhattan were well out of their price range, said Wallach, a fashion designer and recent college graduate who works at a fabric store.

After some debate with Cortorreal, a graphic illustrator from Queens who was concerned about living in such a small space, the two decided to move into a fifth-floor walk-up microstudio in the East Village that measures about 100 square feet.

The two split the $1,300 a month rent for the microstudio, which has one bed, a small kitchen, closet space, and an “upstairs” loft section where they keep winter clothes and other items like a sewing machine. They also have a fire escape that overlooks the main stretch of St. Marks Place, a bustling street with lots of nightlife. They share communal bathrooms with about a dozen tenants from other microapartments in the building.

The couple pays $1,300 total for the microstudio.

Luis Cortorreal

Ultrasmall apartments are an increasingly popular option for New Yorkers trying to beat skyrocketing rents. Alexander Bruni, a senior agent at Union Square Property Management who has rented out microstudios to clients including Wallach and Cortorreal, told Insider the most popular rental videos he posts to his TikTok are of microstudios, with some videos attracting over 2 million views. He said dozens of people have contacted him about these tiny apartments in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn, which shows people are “always looking for very affordable housing in the city,” he said.

“I had people reach out to me out of the blue and ask me, ‘Do you have a $1,200 apartment?’ But I don’t usually get that so often,” Bruni said. “Nobody wants to have to spend many thousands of dollars, but people do also understand that if you want to live comfortably and happy and not be super depressed in your apartment all the time, you might have to spend a little bit to get what you want.”

Wallach and Cortorreal.

Elana Wallach

Wallach said she loves the microstudio more than her more spacious Baltimore two-bedroom.

“There’s a difference between living somewhere that’s big and kind of rundown and grimy, maybe not appealing to look at or be in, but it’s sort of the opposite of that, where it’s really small and condensed but everything in here we think is really nice,” Wallach said.

Both partners said that sharing such a small space has helped their relationship.

“I feel like we can be more of ourselves when we’re not living around roommates,” Cortorreal, who works as a waiter in Jersey City, told Insider. “We hold ourselves accountable for certain things that happen in the apartment, just the upkeep of everything and just being able to express ourselves in every way.”

“I don’t think the apartment has really impacted our relationship whatsoever, and as a matter of fact, as soon as we made it work, it’s nice because we sort of acknowledged that the space is not even a problem anymore,” Wallach added.

The decorated walls of the apartment.

Luis Cortorreal

They live in the same microstudio building as the content creator Axel Webber, who gained over 7.7 million likes on TikTok for posting videos about living in a 95-square-foot microstudio. 

Wallach and Cortorreal said they have just about everything they need in the space.

“We’ve invested just about everything that we need into the space, and it’s not like we’re buying any other pieces of furniture since there’s really no more space to fill,” Cortorreal said.

By the entrance is a desk with a TV that they swap out with a computer whenever they work from home. The apartment has two small closets where they hang their clothes. The couple “splurged” on the kitchen by spending $120 on a kitchenette and camping stove to accompany the sink and refrigerator already there, though that was their only major purchase, she said.

They customized their tiny kitchen.

Luis Cortorreal

The two spent a week decorating their walls with all sorts of posters — three to four boxes worth — that they’d accumulated over the past few years. Most of the wall space is covered by colorful prints, magazine cutouts, and reproductions of famous paintings.

Wallach said they both just started new jobs and make a few thousand dollars a month, but they don’t have any plans to move.

“We have these other leads that we can go to, and now we have jobs and can move to a bigger apartment, and he’s like, ‘I’m going to stay here, it’s really nice,'” Wallach said, noting less than a quarter of her income goes toward rent. “Just a week of working will cover my rent, so the last three weeks of me working, I can spend on whatever.”

The microstudio looks out onto St. Marks Place.

Luis Cortorreal

Despite little space, Wallach said she found a way to design clothing on a dress form in a corner of the apartment, as well as cut fabric in the center of the room.

The couple also has a bowtie-wearing cat who doesn’t move around much, Wallach said.

Living in the center of the East Village means she can stroll out and get a bagel and orange juice every morning while also being a short walk from local bars and entertainment venues. And the constant noise and commotion on St. Marks gives Wallace a certain peace of mind, she said.

“The fact that things are always happening on St. Marks just set me at ease in a really special way that I’ve never really felt anywhere else,” she said. “Since we don’t have a living room, St. Marks is sort of an extension of the living room, so I don’t really mind going out in my pajamas and slippers or whatever I’m wearing.”

Do you live in a tiny apartment or house? Contact this reporter at [email protected].

Read the original article on Business Insider

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