The sun sets amid thunderstorms outside Newark, N.J.
By
msnbc.com contributor
updated 8/4/2011 1:19:20 PM ET 2011-08-04T17:19:20

It may be small, but it's no bargain.

New York architect Luke Clark Tyler rents a 78-square foot studio apartment for $800 a month in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen, where studios usually average $1,900 per month. But in a neighborhood where the average rental price per square foot in a studio is $72, Tyler is paying almost twice as much at $123.07 per square foot, according to Mark Menendez, the director of rentals at Prudential Douglas Elliman.

"I think it's too high," Menendez said. He added that, especially with New York real estate, the price per square foot can increase as the square footage decreases, and vice-versa.

"But again it's all relative. Where can you find something for $800 in Manhattan?," he said. "Location trumps value."

For 27-year-old Tyler, who has lived in New York City on and off since 2002, avoiding long commutes is worth the tiny living space in Midtown.

"I was spending my life in a skyscraper and going underground, to work and then back again," he said. "I was missing out on anything New York had to offer. If I had to choose spending time in a train or living in a small space, I’d choose a small space."

He said he saw some studio apartments in Hell's Kitchen, a neighborhood that stretches from 34th Street to 59 Street on the West Side, that were beautiful, but were priced around $1,600.

"I just rather use that extra $800 to do something else, like take classes or enjoy the city," he said.

Although Tyler doesn't have to deal with a work commute any more (he works from home now), he likes his Midtown location because of its proximity to dance studios, another passion that New York has allowed him to pursue.

So after seeing only a couple of apartments, he settled on his shoebox apartment, smaller than his last 96-square-foot apartment in the same neighborhood. He spent up to $200 on building custom furniture, which includes a couch that folds down into a bed and extra storage space built into a closet.

He said that of his building's three floors, the top floor has four units similar to his, but have been occupied by short-term renters or occasional New York visitors. He has been living in the apartment since May 2010.

If he could add something small to his apartment, he'd choose a sink, because then at least he could "jerry rig" himself a little kitchen.

"A sink is really great," he said. "My last apartment had a sink, it was just awesome."

Tyler shares a bathroom with three other similarly-sized apartments. He said he'd prefer a kitchen over a bathroom, though.

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