Gen Zer, millennial pay under $700/month to rent 'micro apartments' in NYC—they're the size of an average parking spot

J.R. Wills, 27, and Aliana Randazzo, 25, tell CNBC Make It they chose to live in smaller spaces in order to save money.

Gen Zer, millennial pay under $700/month to rent 'micro apartments' in NYC—they're the size of an average parking spot

When Aliana Randazzo, 25, and J.R. Wills, 27, were planning their moves to New York City, they both fell in love with micro studio apartments in midtown Manhattan.

Randazzo found her rent-stabilized 80x150 square-feet micro-studio on StreetEasy and moved into the space in August 2021. The rent was $650 a month.

Randazzo's upfront moving costs totaled $1,950 and included the broker's fee, security deposit and first month's rent.

Before downsizing to the micro apartment, the fashion campaign planner and content creator lived in a luxury high-rise building and paid $2,000 a month in rent. She quickly realized it wasn't worth it because she was never home.

"I wanted to pay less for rent so I could travel more and experience more," Randazzo tells CNBC Make It.

Randazzo found her 80-square-feet apartment on Streeteasy and paid $650/month in rent.

Mickey Todiwala. Photo by CNBC Make It

"Living in this place has been quite the adventure. It's nice because I was in Manhattan, so I wasn't missing anything," she added.

But as much as she loved living in her small midtown apartment, Randazzo found herself in a creative rut because she didn't have enough space to create content.

Randazzo recently moved out of her micro apartment to a room inside a East Village townhouse. 

Mickey Todiwala. Photo by CNBC Make It

She has since moved into a $6,750 a-month townhouse in the East Village with four other roommates.

Though she's paying $1,350 a month now to live in one room, Randazzo says she needed the extra space to continue growing her business.

"This big bed is definitely my favorite part of the room and I have a window this time, which I'm really happy about," she says. "I don't even know what to do with all this space."

Randazzo now pays $1,350 to live in a East Village townhouse with four other roommates.

Mickey Todiwala. Photo by CNBC Make It

Just like Randazzo, Wills found his micro apartment on StreetEasy.

The 27-year-old barista trainer at Starbucks Reserve Roastery moved into his 85 square-feet space in February 2022 and pays $687 a month for what he tells CNBC Make It is his "rent-stabilized shoe box."

Wills' upfront costs for his move were $2,874: $1,500 broker's fee, $687 for the first month's rent and $687 for last month's rent.

"I wasn't really looking for a micro-studio in particular, but I saw the space. I liked it, so I just kind of went for it," Wills says. "I walked into the space for the first time. I saw the window. There was so much natural sunlight everywhere. I knew it was for me."

Wills also found his rent-stabilized apartment on StreetEasy and pays $687 a month.

Mickey Todiwala. Photo by CNBC Make It

Aside from all the natural light in his apartment, Wills says he loves the location because it's convenient to get around the city.

"I love the accessibility of my neighborhood. I can go anywhere super quick, super fast," he added.

While some might say they couldn't imagine living in such a small space, Wills recommends it to everyone because it makes him appreciate the things he has so much more.

"I have way more money to spend to go out on the town, go out and eat with friends if I feel like it. It's $687 versus $2,000. So it opens up the city to me, I think," Wills added.

Wills tells CNBC Make It he doesn't see himself moving out of the micro apartment any time soon.

Mickey Todiwala. Photo by CNBC Make It

Those same friends always ask Wills how long he's going to live in the apartment, and for now, he says he doesn't see himself leaving anytime soon.

"I tell them as long as I want. I'm really comfortable here. I'm saving so much money. It's rent-stabilized, so why would I move? I'm in arguably the best location in the world," Will says.

"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at begin to change, so I choose to live in positivity. I'm having a hell of a time."

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