We move to cities and we live in small groups when we get there. These two trends, urbanisation and smaller households, are contributing to housing shortages in cities across the world.
The challenge can be met by having the right sort of housing in the right places and at the right price. But what is the right sort of housing? Traditional houses and apartments do not suit all lifestyles or all budgets. New approaches are needed, for both renters and owners, and perhaps micro-living is one.
Different lifestyles, different timeframes
A city’s population is always in flux. New people arrive and some stay for years; shorter-term visitors such as tourists, students or mobile workers continually come and go.
Some people even live in two cities: these are the long-distance commuters who work in their host city from during the week, returning to their home city at weekends. For them, each weekly stint is short, but the long-distance commuting arrangement can last years.
Lifestyles and timeframes are very diverse, and housing should be too.
Honey, I shrunk the household
Households have become smaller. In the UK the average household has reduced from about 4.5 people in 1801 to 2.4 people today. This means that for every 100 people we now need 42 housing units, compared to just 22 in 1801.
The surge in urban populations poses difficulties. Infrastructure is stretched; planners and builders struggle; locals may be ‘priced out’ by high earning newer arrivals.