Is small space living bad for your psyche?
It depends ... a few things to consider
Small condos seem to keep getting smaller, from 350-square-foot units at Domicile’s Nuovo development in Ottawa’s Little Italy area to 226-squarefooters in Vancouver’s Gastown. In a society where bigger has, for years, been equated with better, are these tiny living spaces good or bad for the psyche?
That depends, according to U.S. environmental psychologist Sally Augustin.
Although too many people in a limited space can produce tension, she says, small dwellings also give people control over their environment and a chance to own property, which “in our world signals you’re an adult, and that’s important.”
As well, living small may align with the desire to be perceived as eco- conscious, frugal or even an effective problem solver (how you solve the puzzle of packing a full life into minimal space). “You get a positive charge if you can communicate through your home certain values that are important to you,” Augustin says.
Since familiarity breeds contempt, isn’t there the danger that a couple living small may not be a couple for long?
“People normally take care of privacy in nice ways when they’re living with someone they love,” says Augustin. For example, they may give each other space by simply avoiding eye contact.
A recent article in The Atlantic magazine discussed potential problems of living in small spaces. Some residents, for example, might feel trapped in a small apartment crowded with furniture and other belongings but equally uneasy in the building’s bustling common areas.
New Jersey-based environmental psychologist Toby Israel says introverts who like being by themselves may adapt better to small spaces than extroverts who like to entertain.
To make small spaces more welcoming, Israel suggests rocking chairs, soft lighting and soothing music.
Pro: This 550-square-foot bachelor condo can help you get on the property ladder and give you control over your environment, which can be good for self esteem.
Con: A 550-square-foot condo can make you feel trapped and crowded and tense, especially if more than one person is involved.