City dwellers beware: Living in a super tiny apartment isn’t just difficult in terms of space, it’s hard on your psyche, too. Researchers say that living in tiny dorm-like spaces can be fine when you’re younger—in your teens and twenties—but as you get older, smaller spaces tend to take a serious toll, and can lead to domestic violence, substance abuse, and depression.
Micro-apartments—that’s apartments under 400 square feet—are becoming more and more popular in large cities, where real estate is at a premium. But, University of Texas psychology professor Samuel Gosling, told The Atlantic, “an apartment has to fill other psychological needs as well, such as self-expression and relaxation, that might not be as easily met in a highly cramped space.”
Micro-apartments don’t allow for the sharing of space, for communal living, or for really sharing who we are with one another, which can, says Gosling, lead to depression. Worse yet, feeling crowded can lead to violence, aggression, or substance abuse, say experts.
And micro-spaces can be especially bad for children, who often live in these micro-apartments and never experience privacy. “I’ve studied children in crowded apartments and low-income housing a lot,” Susan Saegert, a CUNY professor of environmental psychology told The Atlantic. “They can end up being withdrawn, and have trouble studying and concentrating.”
And, it turns out, living in a micro-apartment isn’t necessarily less expensive, either. Rising property costs mean that the price per square foot is more expensive than ever before, so many renters aren’t necessarily getting a deal for sacrificing space.