Affordable Housing in Washington, D.C.: Micro Apartments

The Drake micro apartment
The Drake

Micro apartments are becoming a city-wide trend in Washington, D.C. Though definitions vary, a micro-unit is an apartment that is less than 500 square feet (some of them are as small as 250 square feet). They are generally one master bedroom with an attached kitchen and bathroom. The term “micro-unit” is the new real estate buzzword for what has long been called a "studio” or “efficiency”.

With the increasing cost of housing in Washington, D.C. and the growing population of Millennials, demand is increasing for smaller and more affordable housing. Young professionals want to live an urban lifestyle where they are close to work and places to socialize such as restaurants, bars, grocery stores, shops, parks and music venues. As real estate development has started to pick up across the region, many developers are designing buildings to accommodate these needs with amenities that make living in a smaller space easier, such as a skinnier dishwasher, a combined washer-dryer and a convection microwave instead of a full oven.

Micro-unit projects are being planned for some of the city’s most appealing neighborhoods such as The Wharf development in Southwest D.C., and the Patterson Mansion in Dupont Circle. (See a list of planned projects below) Thinking about moving to one of these units? Here are some pros and cons to help you make a decision.

Advantages of Micro Apartments

  • Affordable rent (as compared to larger units) in a desirable neighborhood.
  • Eliminates the need for a roommate and the conflicts that can come along with living with other people.
  • Some communities offer common areas to encourage socialization among neighbors, including community kitchens, café areas, and a library. These features may make it easier to get to know your neighbors than in a traditional apartment building.
  • Furniture requirements are limited.
  • Small space may encourage individuals to be more active and socially involved to avoid claustrophobia.
  • With limited space, renters are unlikely to accumulate too much stuff.

Disadvantages of Micro Apartments

  • Limited storage space.
  • May feel claustrophobic in a small space.
  • Requires compact furniture and organization.

Where Are Micro Apartments Located in Washington, D.C.?

Open Now

  • The Harper: 1919 14th St. NW Washington, D.C. (202) 842-1919 – studio, junior one-bedroom, and one-bedroom apartments.
  • The Drake: 1355 17th St. NW Washington, D.C. (202) 234-1355 – studios, junior one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments.

Planned or Under Construction

  • 90-91 Blagden Alley, 9th and M Sts. NW Washington, D.C. – 132 micro-units
  • The Wharf: SW Waterfront, Washington, D.C. – studios, one-beds, two-beds, three-beds, and penthouses.
  • Patterson Mansion: 15 Dupont Circle.
  • 1400 block of Church Street NW Washington, D.C. – 27 micro units.
  • WeWork: Crystal City, VA. – 252 apartments, many 360 square feet or less.