Upgrading to a Larger Apartment—the Financial Implications of Having an Extra Bedroom

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A common compromise renters make is settling for less space in favor of a good location. However, living small is just a temporary thing for many, and an apartment upgrade is usually put on the table sooner or later. After a rent-growth marathon lasting 9 months, and with new apartments getting smaller every year, a decision like this raises a number of questions. Like how much more does it cost to rent a larger home? Or how much more space does an extra room mean?

Highlights:

  • In the 25 largest U.S. cities by population, it can cost anywhere between $51 and $1,169 more per month on average to move into a one-bedroom apartment from a studio. A further upgrade to two-bedroom units can set you back from $43 to $1,710.
  • In relative terms, the studio to one-bed upgrade means 7% to 43% higher rents, and moving from a one-bedroom unit to a two-bedroom rental apartment in the same city costs anywhere between 6% and 43% more per month, on average.
  • A one-bedroom apartment is 243 square feet or 51% larger than a studio on average in the U.S., while a two-bedroom rental is approximately 292 square feet or 41% larger than a one-bed.

Using data from our sister company Yardi Matrix, an apartment market intelligence source, we were able to examine the apartment inventory in the U.S., taking only multifamily rental communities with at least 50 apartment units into consideration.

Ditching the studio for a one-bedroom apartment

On average, one-bedroom apartments in Chicago command 43% bigger rents than studios. That’s the largest difference in the 25 largest cities by percentage — although by net sum you pay ”just” $532 more. Compared to $1,169 (41%) in Manhattan, that’s quite a bargain.

On the other hand, an apartment upgrade is quite light on the wallet of a Memphis, TN, resident. So, if you can afford to pay $51 or 8% more rent, there’s no reason not to make the move.

And in Charlotte, NC, it’s a no-brainer, really, as one-bedroom apartments here are actually cheaper than studios, on average. Our analysis of the local market revealed that the majority of studio units for rent in Charlotte are concentrated in the city’s downtown area, hence the high average price. One-bedroom rentals, on the other hand, are spread across the entire metro area, which lowers their average rent beyond that of studios.

Below you can see how much it costs to upgrade from a studio to a one-bedroom in cities like Seattle, WA; Austin, TX; Los Angeles; Houston; Denver, and many more.

On average, a one-bedroom apartment is 243 square feet (or 51%) larger than a studio. In Columbus, OH, the average one-bedroom apartment is no less than 72% larger —albeit, Columbus has by far the smallest studios, averaging just 389 square feet.

The difference is smallest in renter hubs like Charlotte, Boston, and Dallas — but even in these large cities, an apartment upgrade means about 35% more stretch. Again, Charlotte has the largest studios, averaging at 558 square feet.

Upgrading from one to two bedrooms

Two-bedroom apartments cost, on average, 15% or $162 more to rent on a national level, compared to one-bedroom units. Although not as unexpected as the previous result, upgrading from one- to two-bedroom rentals holds some surprises of its own. In Manhattan, for example, the decision to say goodbye to your one-bedroom unit to enjoy two rooms means you’ll pay around $1,710 or 43% more rent. By contrast, in Memphis, the difference is just 6%, which translates into a mere $43 added to the monthly rent payments.

If you swap a one-bedroom for a two-bedroom, your living space will grow by about 292 square feet, or 41%, on average. Again, the difference is largest in Manhattan, 64% or 421 square feet. Renters in Nashville and Jacksonville, FL, also get to enjoy quite a lot of space once they upgrade: 345 square feet more, on average, which translates into a difference of 49% and 47%, respectively.

The slightest difference between the average size of one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments is in Philadelphia, but even here an apartment upgrade means 261 square feet, or 37% more space.

Who is RentCafe and How Was the Data Compiled?

  • RentCafe is a nationwide apartment search website that enables renters to easily find apartments and houses for rent throughout the United States.
  • To compile this report, RentCafe’s research team analyzed the rental apartment inventory in the 25 most populous cities in the US.
  • Inventory data was provided by Yardi Matrix, an apartment market intelligence source and RentCafe’s sister company, which researches and reports on all multifamily properties containing 50 or more units across 121 markets in the United States.

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the images in this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to RentCafe.com or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology.

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Balazs Szekely, our Senior Creative Writer has a degree in journalism and dynamic career experience spanning radio, print and online media, as well as B2B and B2C copywriting. With extensive experience at several real estate industry publications, he’s well-versed in coworking trends, remote work, lifestyle and health topics. Balazs’ work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as on CBS, CNBC and more. He’s fascinated by photography, winter sports and nature, and, in his free time, you may find him away from home on a city break. You can drop Balazs a line via email.

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