Inside the UK’s Growing Trend of Compact Living

Cities are quickly becoming the go-to places for people to live around the UK, especially young professionals looking for job opportunities in an urban area, or students going to university.

However, as cities get overcrowded and overpopulated by those looking to get in on the action, it’s becoming increasingly harder to find a prime spot at a price that doesn’t make your eyes water. This is where purpose-built, modern apartments and studios come into play, surging in popularity in recent years and ushering in a new style of compact living in the city.

But what makes this housing style so popular, what are its components, and what groups of people are most attracted to it? Here is some more information on the UK’s growing trend of compact living.

Why do people want to live in a compact studio apartment or flat?

There are a bunch of different reasons why people might decide to move towards this new breed of accommodation. First of all, compact apartments and flats are the perfect, manageable size for tenants moving away from home for the first time. A simple interior with clear surfaces and an efficient use of space, they don’t get in the way of the busy lives of students and young workers.

Secondly, compact city apartments and flats typically slot nicely into a sort of urban vantage point in their tenant’s chosen area, giving them prime access to the surrounding city at all times, and the unending opportunity it affords. For working in the area it’s perfect, as you can commute with ease via public transport or even walk, and the social amenities and facilities are also a stones’ throw away, right on your doorstep.

Another feature to look for in a compact apartment building is a luxury amenity, such as a spa, gym room or cinema room. Buy to Let property investment company RWInvest are one offering these sorts of attractive features. Their Sky Gardens and Crosby Gardens developments, for example, provide a great rooftop garden social area, and many of their other buildings around the city also offer gym areas to attract tenants.

The most desirable features

Want to find out more about some of the most popular amenities and facilities offered throughout this new breed of city accommodation? Here are some of the most common additions that you might want to seek out as a potential tenant – or as an investor if wanting to stand out.

  • Concierge service – This might sound like a given in a managed apartment building, but when done in a modern way it’s a luxury that can really stand out. Many state-of-the-art apartment building complexes in the city will have staff on hand at all times to help out, with a reception area that almost resembles a hotel.

As an aside, for the beginner looking to purchase property in the city as a starting investment, this is also an added bonus, as with a management company on hand to look after any tenant issues, you’re left with a more hands-off investment and given the freedom to focus on your own endeavours

  • Washer/Dryer facilities – With compact apartments usually restricted for space and so prioritizing/simplifying down to the important stuff, washing machines and dryers are often too big to fit in the individual rooms, and so buildings will provide them as an added communal benefit. Sometimes these are offered free of charge to tenants as one of the perks of their tenancy, and sometimes they are offered for a menial fee.

One of the great benefits of having these sorts of necessary facilities available in-house is that it allows tenants to do everything that they need to do from within the comfort of their own home. While it’s true that one of the reasons people live in the city is so that they can benefit from the surrounding facilities on their doorstep, sometimes you just don’t want to have to lug your dirty down the street of an evening to a nearby launderette.

  • In-built parking/vehicle storage – Again, an added feature that for many is a necessity, vehicle parking and vehicle storage increases the desirability of an apartment building tenfold. For investors it’s an addition to a property that will without a doubt add value, as some people simply can’t go without it.

For those that don’t drive a car in the city, and have decided to avoid the costly burdens associated with it, having additional storage within an apartment complex for bicycles etc. is an added bonus, and will give you peace-of-mind against things getting stolen or damaged.

An unexpected demographic

According to the experts at while young professionals and students are the most common demographic living and wanting to live in compact properties, there has also been a perhaps unexpected increase in older people wanting to move to these apartments. Older people and pensioners giving up their once-family homes often come full circle in essence, and want the same sort of facilities as young people, such as the ease-of-access to social areas and facilities.

Compact living – The worldwide appeal

While many cities nationwide are experiencing a surge in urbanites and city dwellers, The UK certainly isn’t the only country in the world where compact, city-centre living is popular. As a matter of fact, the UN has projected that by 2050, two out of three people will be living in cities or other ‘urban centres.

In Japanese cities, such as the megalopolis of Tokyo, which houses a population of over 13 million people, city living is normalcy, and tenants are used to compact, singular room apartments. Some living in cities choose to retract completely from social interaction and confine themselves to the apartment, living online and going out sparingly to get food and supplies. While there are a lot of positives that the UK can take from Tokyo’s efficiency, hopefully this epidemic doesn’t become one of them.

The Pros and Cons of different compact apartment types

Compact apartments in the city can come in one bedroom varieties, two beds, or even studio apartments – which have an additional room for the bathroom but then typically curl around in an ‘L’ shape, forming an alcove for the bed area to save space and keep as efficient as possible. For students starting off in the city and moving away from home for the first time to study at university, studio apartments are the perfect space, but those getting older and perhaps living with partners, wanting to expand while still residing in an urban area, might find that they need a bigger space.

From an investor’s standpoint, what might be the best apartment type to look for? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for out of your investment. If you’re investing in a singular flat, for example, you might want to carve out as much space in the city as possible, and opt for the two bedrooms flat so that you can charge more for rental income etc.

Some experienced investors, however, who want to invest in multiple properties, might purchase sleek studio apartments throughout different hotspots within a given city, or in different cities entirely. This is a great way of diversifying an investment portfolio, should any area dry up in terms of investment prospects etc.