Can it be the future of housing in Lebanon?
Living in a micro apartment, or studio, anywhere around the world might be a normal thing to do. But it is definitely not the first thing that comes to our mind in Lebanon. Here, we have been used to living in three-bedroom apartments with a couple of balconies spread across the house. Living in a ‘shoe box’ might not seem like the best decision to take. But as times changed, housing has become much more expensive. This has made living in a studio apartment an inevitable choice.
Whenever an investor wants to launch a fresh concept, especially if it’s a restaurant, he opens a space in Mar Mikhael or Gemayzeh to test the market. Similarly, developers started micro apartment projects in Beirut to see if there is an appetite for such a model. Ashrafieh, Beirut Central District, and nearby neighborhoods were the testing ground. Slowly, but surely, such developments started to spread to other areas like Ras Beirut and Mousseitbeh.
But what are they really?
According to Wikipedia, a micro apartment is a one-room, self-contained living space, designed to accommodate a sitting space, sleeping space, bathroom and kitchenette within 14 to 32 square meters. It is pretty famous in countries where the population is huge or space is limited. These include China, Japan, USA, and Germany. In the local market, developers define micro apartments in a different sense. Having 14 or even 35 m2 apartments is virtually inexistent. Developers refer to micro apartments or studios as those units under 100 square meters, with efficient space made up of one bedroom, a living room, one or two bathrooms, and a kitchenette.
Several big developers who have been in the market for many years have embraced studio flats. They adapted their offering, and added a few perks as well. Some apartments available for sale will come with access to a private gym and a grand lobby. They are part of the upscale projects in the city, as the price per square meter is above $4,000. Other developers have opted to make studios with minimal amenities, such as a generator, because the main point behind owning such an apartment is, for some, their affordability. These studios can be found for prices under $3,500 per square meter. Many other developers have changed the internal designs of their projects and repartitioned larger sized apartments of 150-200 m2, and even more, to answer this new demand.
Challenges are not few
The promise of developing micro flats is not as easy as it seems, especially in Beirut. Firstly, the infrastructure in certain neighborhoods is already insufficient. Adding new projects with a high population would aggravate the problem. Secondly, the Construction Code dictates one parking for each apartment under 100 m2. The developer would hence require a large plot of land in order to make enough levels for parking spaces that micro apartments would need. The prices of land are already expensive in the capital. This will make such a concept accessible to the financially solvent developers. However, these developers are expected to reap the benefits, if the offering is well-examined, because the demand is there.
Whatever you might be looking for, be it a micro apartment or a villa in the mountains or maybe just a piece of land to start your own project on, visit OLX to check the available options and find what suits you best.