The tendency to live on 20 square meters in cities grows


The mini-apartments are the preference, both for lack of space and cost of conventional housing, as for the aspiration of young people to live in well-connected places.

Cute loft. Good distribution Excellent connectivity Advertising around the mini departments, increasingly common in Mexico City, seeks to divert attention to the dimensions of these homes, which reach an area of ​​20 m2.

“We have room to shrink even more: in New York, today apartments of up to 7 m² are rented, or some of 20 meters whose walls move to change the distribution,” says Gene Towle, director of the Softec real estate consultancy. “It’s something associated with the dynamics of big cities, where many people are looking for space for only one person and only for sleeping.”

Arteaga 57, in the Guerrero neighborhood, is a development with seven departments, of which two are barely 28 m² and, according to the vendors, were the first to depart. In the street of Liszt, in the Peralvillo colony, another development of 24 lofts is built that will be ready to be delivered in 2020; the smallest will measure 30 m² and will cost, according to the Segundamano portal, 1.06 million pesos. This trend is related to the shortage of urban land, which has made land and vertical constructions more expensive, adds Towle.

The mini-apartments are the market’s response to those who want to live in attractive or well-located areas, but have a low budget, and as a consequence of the restriction of land use and the change of habits in the population.

In Mexico, people move from home an average of five times in life, while, in the United Kingdom, about 11 times; in the United States, between eight and nine; and, in Denmark, they can be 10.

In their vital process, people can be, at the beginning of their productive career, in small spaces, to privilege the comfort of working nearby; But, as daily dynamics change, they require new spaces to live as a couple, have children and then retire, Towle says.

“Housing is increasingly seen as a life process, not as a destination,” adds the consultant. “These small options will be increasingly common in the most desirable areas, as there are more and more people who live alone, form couples without children, or are older people.”

And the norm?

The regulation regarding the construction of mini houses is governed by the minimum spaces, not the total of the house, that is, that a bedroom, for example, must have minimum dimensions of 6 to 7 m², and a kitchen, of 2.5 3 m², depending on the design, but there is no minimum dimension for the total meters of the house, says Francisco Martín del Campo, partner of Grupo Arquitectoma.

This firm was one of the first to build apartments of 60 square meters, in the 1990s. “Then they said it was crazy, that nobody would want to live in 60 meters. We did the first exercise of 40 apartments … and they sold very fast. Then, we made another one of 240 departments. We have continued with that scheme and made departments of 40 meters that are very helped by people who live alone. It is a scheme that occurs more and more in the city, ”says Martín del Campo.

The tendency towards shrinking has increased. “Housing spaces have been reduced for economic reasons; what privileges people, on any other subject, is location. With the price of land so expensive in well-connected and central locations, what we have done is to find efficient schemes with fewer square meters, so that they could still be within people’s reach, ”says Martín del Campo.

Minimum dimensions of apartments in large cities

United Kingdom (average) | 46 m² (1 bedroom)

New York   | 37 m² (1 bedroom)

London | 11 m² (studio)

Tokyo | 8 m² (studio)

Source : Financial Times , with information from the New York City Council CPT)

In 2007, new apartments with only one bedroom accounted for 3.2% of total sales, but today they are around 20%, according to Towle company figures. Meanwhile, large departments (four bedrooms) represent less than 1% of the offer.

Indirect regulation

Considered as a unit, small departments are cheaper, but, measured per square meter, their price is similar to conventional ones. On the other hand, its construction is a challenge, since a development of lofts requires more wet walls (bathroom and kitchen) than a development with conventional housing, which increases the cost per meter of construction, says Towle.

“One way to reduce costs is to have developments with different sizes; That is not new, Puerta Alameda, in the Historic Center, already offered, from the beginning, one, two, three or four bedroom apartments, ”he adds.

From the point of view of the consultant, it is not desirable that a regulation be established that sets a minimum to the size that a department should have.

“When the government tries to regulate something that obeys the need of the population and the characteristics of the market, the [legal] gaps arise; Then, there are black and gray markets. It is not what you should look for. ”

This type of scheme has disadvantages and advantages. Small departments have become popular due to the idea that, in large cities, the neighborhood is home, says Carlos Martínez, director of Infonavit. “Today, people in Mexico City begin to think that their house is not only the place where they sleep; [his home is] his colony. There they find all the other satisfiers at a walking distance. ”

Infonavit credits (which in Mexico City are not even 10% of the total and are limited to a value of 2 million pesos) can only be granted for the purchase of apartments of more than 40 m² (and the authorities still want to restrict them more, to homes of at least 42 meters). “We are still analyzing the whole financial part, all the costs, but it is a real concern to think about how workers can live better,” adds Martínez Velázquez.

The regulation could be tightened more. There could be regulatory changes in the credits, he warns, since small housing developments have been detected in cities of the country that do not have land shortages.

“For many years, an expansive housing development was promoted, in which it was only interested to place loans regardless of the quality of housing; and this caused that, in some states, we observe housing of 26 or 27 m² where right-holders live with conditions that they should not have, ”says the official.

The most expensive sites

Prices of new apartments | (figures in pesos, price per m²)

Mexico City | 43,458

Nuevo León | 39,658

Jalisco | 35,629

Queretaro | 23,920

Puebla | 21,066

Yucatan | 19,667

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Source:,, Forbes Mx,

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