For many Atlantans, less than 500 square feet of living space would seem like unconscionably tight quarters. But the opposite is true for one local Realtor named Martin DiGeronimo, who was kind enough to share the story of his dramatic downsizing for Micro Week. DiGeronimo stumbled into a downtown high-rise condo that consists of a miniscule 448 square feet — it's a studio, of course — and he shares it with his girlfriend and their cat, Nico. The process of de-cluttering his lifestyle, adapting to this "box in the sky," has improved every aspect of DiGeronimo's life, to the point that he says, "This apartment has really inspired me!" Back in 2010, DiGeronimo graduated Kennesaw State University with a marketing degree, and Atlanta's post-Recession real estate scene beckoned with low prices.
"I'd never been inside a small apartment before," DiGeronimo says, "but one beautiful summer day I decided to look around the Five Points area, to see how much things had changed since the '90s when I visited for the first time."
To his surprise, DiGeronimo spotted a sign in a window at The Metropolitan building on Marietta Street advertising it as a condo community. His rent in Kennesaw was $850 per month. He figured living in the heart of Atlanta would be as much as $1,500.
"I called and the rental agent stated $677, all utilities included, for a one bedroom. Sight-unseen I gave my debit card number and information to the agent and got on MARTA and headed to the airport to go on a soul-searching vacation in Las Vegas."
Live was great in a 600-square-foot apartment, until he did some research and found two units for sale in the same building — for $23,000 and $30,000.
"I was floored," he recalls. "Could this be a misprint? I called a real estate agent and set up a showing … The cheaper unit was already sold. I put in a low offer on the other and basically gave up. Too good to be true. Then the agent called back. The bank that owned the apartment I wanted said pay full price — $30,000 — or no deal. I offered $24,000 and now I own my first home."
So, in the course of 10 months, DiGeronimo shrunk from 850 square feet of home space to 448. "After reading the Apartment Therapy blog, I learned that this downsizing was a constant process — okay, live clutter free," he says. "This idea improved my entire life. Every aspect."
He spent the next two years renovating the little green-painted monster into a bright, cozy place that's now home to three (the cat included). He's hosted a bachelor party for a good friend in his condo, and a New Year's Eve blowout with 20 people. "Getting out and walking this beautiful city comes easy," he says. "Our favorite bars are a five to 10-minute walk, and seeing people's faces the first time they come visit never gets old."
Since making the micro transition, DiGeronimo has sold four condos in his building to folks who share his enthusiasm, he says. Both he and his girlfriend work from home, so staying organized is crucial.
"We're inspired by what living in the center of a major city can offer a person in terms of dreams and possibilities," he says. "With an unobstructed view of Philips Arena, the Georgia Dome, and the new stadium, one can only imagine the 'Implode the Dome' party in 2017. Get on the list now!"