When I first read about NYC Mayor Bloomberg's promotion of new "micro" apartments for the city--with living space for each rental under 300 square feet--my reaction was "ah, now New Yorkers can finally enjoy living in the city without all that damn living space to get lost in!" Manhattan is the only place I've seen wealthy people live in very tiny, no-frills apartments--forget about having a pool, parking, or balcony--and consider themselves lucky to have such dwellings. (The tiny living space theme is apparently worse in other parts of the world, such as Tokyo)
But upon reflection the creation of even smaller apartments seems a good thing. There are many single individuals who really just need a place to sleep, use a bathroom and kitchenette, and for these folks it makes little sense to pay for more space than necessary. Ideally, these micro-apartments can be built in large quantities in smaller acreage, at the same time taking many consumers out of the market for the (relatively) larger units. NYC needs more housing, after all, and increased variety in terms of square footage will better meet the crushing demand.
So why stop at 300 square feet? Some Tokyo businessfolk would laugh at you needing so much space! Make the bathtub double as a bed, and just remember to take the pillows and sheets out before you shower in the morning. You really don't need more than one sink for shaving/toothbrushing as well as for washing dishes. And if the front door slides to the side rather than opens on a hinge, that's even more space you can save. Don't forget to think vertical--no reason we need ten foot high ceilings when the average NYer is under 6 feet. Drop the ceiling a bit, and don't invite any Norwegians over.
And that's not all! Most people in NYC spend only about a third of their day in their apartment, being out to work or socialize most of their waking hours. I'm thinking sublease arrangements--Renter #1 gets the apartment from 8 AM to 4 PM, Renter #2 gets the apartment from 4 PM to 12 AM, etc....and presto, I just created a 100 square foot home that you only need to pay one third of the rent for, dropping the typical New Yorker's housing costs to a level commensurate with Omaha.
You're welcome, Manhattanites!