Not long after I bought my place in Parkdale, I saw a news report on what it claimed was Toronto’s smallest condo. It was this itty-bitty downtown space that clocked in at a microscopic 398 square feet.
Small yes, but smallest? Please.
My one-room, converted factory speck-of-land had that beat by a full 10 square feet, making it Toronto’s actual smallest condo.
Cool. I’m #1!
Or dead last.
Either way, I have no peer.
Over the years, I never bothered to double-check on that disputed title. But with downtown space at a premium and condo prices heading skyward, I figured a challenger was inevitable.
Enter the currently-under-construction Smart House on Queen near University.
Expected to open later this year, the 25-storey development has already sold out of its 256 units, which start at a microscopic 276 square feet.
Wow — 276 square feet? That’s like two parking spaces. Or one very large parking space. Sure, the Smart House units come with all manner of space-saving amenities (a desk that becomes a bed/transformable rooms). But come on. That’s … so … small.
Can a human actually live in such small quarters without going stark-raving nutso?
Based on my personal experience, the answer is yes. (Though if I’ve already gone nuts, I’d hardly know, would I?)
But it might take a little advanced preparation and on-going maintenance to avoid long-term cabin fever.
Ian Johnston's new tiny competition. The currently-under-construction Smart House on Queen near University. (Photo courtesy of Malibu Investment Inc.)
First off, one person per unit. Even at an expansive 500 square feet, don’t even think about a roommate or paramour. Is saving money worth your sanity? Even a weekend visit from a relative can get a little murder-suicidey pretty quick.
Just think about it — they’ll be right there, in your face, all day and night. Breathing. Coughing. Or worse. Love means never having to say who farted?
Also, forget about a dog. A very old cat maybe. But see if you can find one of those high-end non-pooping felines I’ve heard so much about. Or maybe just dreamed about.
Location is key. You need to pick an active community. You’d be surprised how many folks buy a property without considering their immediate surroundings. With a small space, you need to retreat to the outside world with more frequency. And getting in a car isn’t always an option. So close amenities, a bustling nightlife, and a park are just a few priorities.
And if you’re like me and work out of your mini-condo, then you need to schedule daily errands — if only for the fresh air and change-of-pace.
It’s why I only keep enough food in the fridge for one day.
As for the space itself, choose thin, vertical furniture. Think up, not out. I probably wouldn’t have lasted 10 years without the 12-foot ceilings in my converted factory condo. Sure, my square footage is minuscule, but above my head it feels sprawling and spacious. Not to mention all the room up there for out-of-the-way storage.
Several condos in my building feature elevated beds, maximizing the space even more. I’m prone to sleep-walking, so I prefer a fold-out couch. No need to add terrifying plunge to my nightly sleep routine. Plus, a fold out couch and a TV on the wall makes bedtime seem like a night at the drive-in.
Organization is also key in a small space. And those space-saving doodads at the Smart House probably aren’t enough. You’d be surprised how quickly an unwashed dish and a discarded pair of socks add up to depressing chaos.
Best advice is to prioritize your belongings before you move in — toss out what you don’t need or what you haven’t used in years. If there’s a storage room in your building, then even better.
I’m still tossing out items 10 years after moving in. What seemed so important a few years back seems pointless today.
I’m keeping my Beta machine though. It’s coming back in vogue. I know it.