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Micro-apartments flood Sao Paulo, the largest Latin American metropolis

Micro-apartments flood Sao Paulo, the largest Latin American metropolis

Lara Maia hurriedly typing on her laptop, leaning on the desk that occupies a space between the fridge and the closet, facing the bed against the wall. In her 16m2 apartment, this Brazilian resident of sao paulo he manages to live and work.

“I don’t need more: I’m close to everything and I feel free to leave whenever I want with a few suitcases”, This 34-year-old computer scientist tells AFP while watching the sunset over the skyscrapers of downtown São Paulo from the 16th floor.

Located in the Bela Vista neighborhood, next to the heart of the city, this micro-apartment reflects a growing trend in recent years in the most populous city in Latin America and in others in Brazil, where homes the size of hotel rooms have multiplied.

Although it is already common in large world capitals, in Sao Paulo, the boom in residential apartments of up to 30m2 is more recent: between 2016 and 2022, the offer rose from 461 units to 16,261, a twenty-one% of the total, according to the State Housing Union (Secovi-SP).

A flow of investment into the sector and incentives from the urbanization plan boosted the market for these apartments in this city of 11.5 million inhabitants.

Some, with furniture fitted like Tetris pieces or the kitchen centimeters from the bathroom, became the subject of viral jokes on social networks, where one user called them “Gourmet Captivity”.

That did not scare off the demand, made up mainly of adults between the ages of 20 and 39, according to a survey by digital real estate firm Quinto Andar.

“They are young professionals -middle and upper-middle class-, starting their career, mostly single, attracted by modern and well-located properties, close to jobs or public transport connections”, something very valuable in a city with chaotic traffic, he describes Ely Wertheim, executive president of Secovi-SP.

minimalism and sustainability

Raised in a large house in Baurú, a municipality in the interior of São Paulo, Maia recognizes that “could get a bigger apartment” in another neighborhood for the 2,300 reais (almost USD 475) per month that he pays for his mini-studio.

However, he resigns meters to be close to his family and his face-to-face work, which he alternates with remote.

At the end of the teleworking day, she closes the screen and prepares tea with toast that she heats in her single pan on an electric stove. Afterward, she unfolds a rolling table hidden under the desk and sits down to eat.

“In such a small space you learn to get rid of many things and change your perception of what you need”says Maia, adapted to a more minimalist and sustainable lifestyle, even moderating laundry.

Gatherings with friends take place in a lounge on the terrace, a shared area that has become common in new buildings, which offer laundry, coworking and game rooms, and even spaces for bathing pets.

Oscar Borghi, a 39-year-old engineer, has lived with his girlfriend since last year in a 28m2 two-room apartment in the south of the city.

“We thought it would be small, but we are comfortable with the layout and spaces of the building: when we meet in the home office, one works in coworking”says Borghi, who also lives near his office and the train station.

Like NY and Tokyo

Rodger Campos, economist from the Loft platform, assimilates Sao Paulo, the fifth largest city in the world, to others like New York or Tokyo, where micro-apartments abound: “It has population density (concentration), global connection, and is a hub for work, health, and education.”

In addition, interest rates, which registered a drop between 2018 and 2021 (of 6.75% to a historic apartment 2% due to the pandemic), says José Armenio, deputy secretary of the Municipal Secretary of Urbanism of Sao Paulo.

Those levels increased capital in the sector and encouraged investors to buy rental properties. It also contributed to a reduction in building permits for small apartments ordered by the Municipality in 2014, says Armenio.

The objective was to increase the concentration of inhabitants in areas served by public transport, with more accessible housing for a less affluent class. But the result was different: “Apartments up to 30 m2 have the most expensive m2 in the city”details Fields.

The Municipal Chamber recently approved a revision of the urban plan that makes the construction of micro-apartments more expensive, to create more family homes. Although some believe that an oversupply in the market is what will stop the trend.

Source: AFP

Source: Gestion

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