How to live in a small space

“Rent is expensive”, “you have to be a millionaire to afford a home these days”, “how do you live in that tiny place?”…

I have been living in a 450 square foot condo for almost two years now. It’s got its ups and downs but I find, it’s mostly ups. I recently had it featured in Toronto Life because in Toronto’s current market, many of us are finding ourselves in this situation.

Here’s a back story but to see the feature and my humble abode, check out Toronto Life!


The Toronto housing market, much like Berlin’s, is getting a bit out of control. My generation got it drilled in their brains that to own is the path to success. To own is stability, responsibility, the next logical step. That’s what we grew up hearing. Why? because our parents did it that way. Our parents dated differently, they worked differently, socialized differently, and basically lived differently.

I’m not here to discuss home ownership vs. renting but I will say that perhaps the logical next step needs a bit of revisiting. We don’t socialize, work or date the way our parents did, so why live the same way? Just something to think about.

If you’re blessed with a generous ‘gift’ from your parents, you can afford a down payment. If you’re not, you look for a rental. If you’re okay with stability and committing to a neighbourhood, you buy. If you’re not, you rent and explore different neighbourhoods. There are definitely more factors than just affordability. Some people prefer to rent.

Either way though, your budget will depend on a few things. Are you going to do this alone? Do you want roommates? Do you want to be close to transit? Do you care to be in the core?

Then the search begins and soon you find your budget is not enough for a ‘decent’ sized place. So you’re down to under 500 square feet. Junior one-beds that are being marketed as true one-beds. You’re scratching your head wondering how living in this tiny box will equate happiness but you do it anyway. Because it’s the next logical step in your life.

You commit to a little place, you decorate it and it’s your cozy resting place. But how do you live in it?

  • You own lessminimalism!
  • You clean up after yourself every single day – ya, I know, not fun!
  • You store seasonal items – buy those big boxes and put those summer outfits away…you won’t be wearing them any time soon…sorry!
  • You invest in good storage – closet organizers (ps. I’m accepting donations for mine), dressers, boxes…you do what you gotta do!
  • You have a locker – they cost money to rent or buy but are well worth it – please note, this only applies to condo owners/renters
  • Multi-functional pieces – I have this thing with CB2, Structube and Ikea…some of their furniture is amazing for multi-purpose uses. I bought this high desk that can be used as an office desk, extra counter space, dining table and storage space…LOVE it.
  • Cabinets
  • Shelves
  • Shelf dividers
  • Look at décor differently – you don’t need a lot of stuff, you just need a theme. Pick one and go with it. For me it was different metals. I used copper, silver, and brass as my inspiration.

Whether you’re owning or renting, it’s tough out there but living within your means is more important than ever now. The Bank of Canada just raised interest rates on loans again (second time in less than two months or something)….be wise with your spending because that’s so Berlin.

With nothing but your best interest in mind, this has been A Berlin Vibe.


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