Inside one man’s 95-square-foot NYC apartment


Imagine a shoebox apartment where you can spread your arms and touch both walls — and one so small that you can’t enjoy the privileges of a kitchen or a bathroom.

In downtown Manhattan, this is one man’s reality. Alex Verhaeg — a 23-year-old barber, bike messenger and content creator — kicks up his feet inside a teeny, weeny 95-square-foot apartment in the East Village, which costs him $1,100 per month with utilities included.

He opened his home for a video tour with CNBC Make it, and added in the clip that he paid $1,000 per month when he moved into the walk-up. Still, not a bad deal when considering Manhattan rents, which were on a bank-busting tear for the better part of a year, hit a much higher $4,022 per month in September, according to the latest Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel tallies.

“I believe that I do have a good deal here,” Verhaeg told the outlet. “I know it’s a lot of money, but for the location I am in, the fact that all of my utilities are included, I feel like I’m paying a pretty fair price.”

The unit is about 16 feet in length.
The unit is about 16 feet in length.
CNBC Make It/YouTube
Verhaeg can stretch his arms wide and touch the walls.
Verhaeg can stretch his arms wide and touch the walls.
CNBC Make It/YouTube

There are aspects that come at a cost — which the video makes clear through mere visuals. His twin bed is wedged between the walls, and Verhaeg says in the clip he needs to lie on it diagonally in order to fit. There’s a narrow closet by his door for his clothes and space beneath his bed for shoes. For a kitchen — well, the best he can do is keep a hot plate atop a narrow console. He can boil pasta there and strain it into a small sink that appears to be a small bathroom sink — but there’s no bathroom surrounding it.

The facilities, for their part, are firmly outside of Verhaeg’s home. Down the hall, he has three shared toilets and two shared showers — which, in the clip, appear to be kept nice and clean. Each story of the five-floor walk-up building, moreover, has 10 units and the same number of toilets and shower stalls.

“Living in the building can sort of feel like you’re in the college dorms by the fact that you share bathrooms and you share showers,” he added. “Sometimes, you’ll see your neighbors walking around in the hallway in either a towel or a bathrobe, but you sort of just get used to it.”

The unit is roughly 16 feet long and 6 feet wide, and Verhaeg also keeps it noticeably clutter-free. He has space for a small table for dining with two folding chairs, shelves, a mounted television and some art on the walls.

“Living in such a small space really makes you be grateful for the things that you do have,” he said, adding he can’t buy much on his own because there wouldn’t be much space to store it.

The tiny space has enough room for a small table and two folding chairs for dining.
The tiny space has enough room for a small table and two folding chairs for dining.
CNBC Make It/YouTube
A view of the layout.
A view of the layout.
CNBC Make It/YouTube
The twin bed is wedged between the walls.
The twin bed is wedged between the walls.
CNBC Make It/YouTube
He has to lie diagonally in order to fit on the bed.
He has to lie diagonally in order to fit on the bed.
CNBC Make It/YouTube
Verhaeg in between the closet and his multi-purpose sink.
Verhaeg in between the closet and his multi-purpose sink.
CNBC Make It/YouTube
His closet where he keeps his clothes.
His closet where he keeps his clothes.
CNBC Make It/YouTube
A space for storage at the side of his bed.
A space for storage at the side of his bed.
CNBC Make It/YouTube

Overall, Verhaeg says it’s a space that fits his needs — despite the fact it doesn’t fit many belongings. He found the unit on Zillow in his search for living alone and living in Manhattan so he doesn’t have to take the train. There was no broker’s fee.

The video clip earned more than 101,000 views on YouTube, which elicited comments from viewers to the tune of, “It’s insane NYC has normalized this kinda lifestyle” and “There are prison cells that are larger.”

Others, meanwhile, were impressed and supportive.

“It is very difficult for young people starting out in life on their own to find a good situation for themselves,” one viewer commented. “Alex is satisfied with the life he has, including the neighborhood, that fits his needs. I wish him well in his plans for his future.”

Verhaeg says this will be his last year living in the home. And it seems that, when he leaves, he’ll also leave with memories.

“Any space can be made into a home,” he added. “No matter how big or how small that space is you just got to put some love into it.”



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