Home >> Market Trends >> Affordability >> Apartment Size Shrinking Nationwide as Share of Studios Tick Up
Print This Post Print This Post

Apartment Size Shrinking Nationwide as Share of Studios Tick Up

The post-pandemic apartment market has seen significant fluctuations from one year to another, according to a new report from RentCafe, including oscillations in the size of new apartments. As more homebuyers continue their home search amid rising interest rates and the fluctuating market, new data finds the rising demand for rentals is affecting the size of newly built apartments.

In 2022, the average apartment size was 887 square feet. That’s 54 square feet less than 10 years ago, when rentals measured 941 square feet, on average. Meanwhile, the sharpest drop in one year was in 2022, when the average size went from 917 to 887 — a difference of roughly 30 square feet.

Key Findings:

  • The average size of new apartments in 2022 was 887 square feet — a 54 square-foot drop since 10 years ago. It was also the largest year-over-year decrease, down 30 square feet.
  • Among other factors, the drop in size can be attributed to more studios and one-bedroom apartments entering the market in 2022, reaching a historic share of 57%.
  • Tallahassee, FL, led the nation with the largest apartments, while Seattle offered the smallest apartments.
  • Apartments in Tucson, AZ, saw the largest increase in apartment size.
  • Silver Spring, MD, apartments saw the largest decrease in the last 10 years.

Last year's decrease comes after the two pandemic years, 2020 and 2021, when the average size of new apartments actually increased. Once again, this confirmed the developers' quick response to the need for more space during the pandemic, as they adjusted floorplans in order to accommodate large enough configurations to fit a home office.

Yet, 2022 presented a different story: With one of the highest levels of construction in half a century, the year was marked by the need for more housing all across the country. As such, more studios and one-bedroom apartments were finished in 2022 than ever before. In fact, the share of smaller units reached a historic high of 57% in 2022 — a significant change compared to 10 years ago, when they represented exactly half of apartments built.

However, the 30-square-foot decline in the size of new apartments doesn't mean that all types of units shrank when compared to 2021. Larger apartments with three bedrooms actually grew by 15 square feet.

In 2022, the average size of an apartment here was 993 square feet. That means that renters in the South enjoyed an extra 106 square feet compared to the national average. On the other hand, renters in the Pacific Northwest had the least amount of space with only 776 square feet — 111 less than the national average apartment size.

According to data from a 2018 RentCafe report, a shift seems to have taken place: The Pacific Northwest has overtaken California as the region with the least amount of apartment space. Now, renters in California can make use of an average of 876 square feet.

Cities where apartments lost the most space in the last 10 years

On the other hand, Silver Spring, MD apartments, saw the biggest decrease in size. Renters here lost 114 square feet (15%) of apartment space. Plus, with the average size of an apartment being 780 square feet, Silver Spring also placed high on the list of cities with the least amount of apartment space.

Other significant size decreases during the last 10 years were noted in new apartments in Decatur, GA, where renters lost 100 square feet (or 11%), and in Birmingham, AL, where the average size of a rental shrunk by 96 square feet (11%).

Portland, OR, apartments were also among those with the biggest losses in size since 10 years ago, dropping by 61 square feet (19%). Coupled with its title as the city with the second-smallest apartments in the U.S. (along with Queens, NY), space in the Rose City is becoming a rare commodity.

Atlanta wrapped up the list with apartments here losing 69 square feet (8%) during the last 10 years to measure at 900 square feet, on average.

To read the full report, including more data, charts and methodology, click here.

About Author: Demetria Lester

Demetria C. Lester is a reporter for DS News and MReport magazines with more than eight years of writing experience. She has served as content coordinator and copy editor for the Los Angeles Daily News and the Orange County Register, in addition to 11 other Southern California publications. A former editor-in-chief at Northlake College and staff writer at her alma mater, the University of Texas at Arlington, she has covered events such as the Byron Nelson and Pac-12 Conferences, progressing into her freelance work with the Dallas Wings and D Magazine. Currently located in Dallas, Texas, Lester is an avid jazz lover and likes to read. She can be reached at [email protected].

Check Also

Survey: Homeownership Remains Elusive for Baby Boomer Renters

A recent look into housing affordability by NeighborWorks America has found that three in five long-term baby boomer renters feel homeownership remains unattainable.