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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 US 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 bedrooms 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 one to two bedrooms in the same city costs from 6% to 43% more on average per month.
  • A one-bedroom apartment is 243 square feet or 51% larger than a studio on average in the US, 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 US, taking only multifamily rental communities with at least 50 apartment units into consideration.

Ditching the studio for a one-bedroom apartment

In Chicago, one-bedroom apartments ask 43% larger rents on average than studios. That’s the largest difference in the 25 largest cities by percentage—although by 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 resident—if you can afford to pay $51 or 8% more rent, there’s no reason not to make the move. And in Charlotte it’s a no-brainer, really, as one-bedroom apartments are actually cheaper than studios on average. Our analysis of the local market revealed that the majority of studio units in Charlotte are concentrated in the city’s downtown area, hence the high average price. One-bedroom units on the other hand are widespread over the entire metro area, which lowers their average rent beyond that of studios.

On average, a one-bedroom apartment is 243 square feet or 51% larger than a studio. In Columbus, OH the average one-bed is no less than 72% larger—albeit, Columbus has by far the smallest studios, averaging just 389 square feet. The difference is smallest in Charlotte, Boston and Dallas, but even in these cities an apartment upgrade means 34-35% more stretch. Again, Charlotte has the largest average studio size, 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-beds. Although not as unexpected as the previous result, upgrading from one to two bedrooms holds some surprises of its own. In Manhattan, for example, the decision to say goodbye to your one-bedroom flat to have two rooms means you’ll pay around $1,710 or 43% more rent. In Memphis the difference is a mere $43, accounting for a 6% higher rent.

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. Nashville and Jacksonville residents also gain quite a lot of space with an apartment upgrade: 345 square feet on average, which translates into a differences of 49% and 47%, respectively. The slightest difference between the average size of one- and two-bedroom apartments is in Philadelphia, but even there an apartment upgrade means 261 square feet, or 37% more space.

Who is RENTCafé and How Was the Data Compiled?

  • RENTCafé 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, RENTCafé’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 RENTCafé’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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About the author

Balazs Szekely

Balazs is a qualified journalist with a thing for real estate. This obsession comes in handy in his work as an online content developer and creative writer for RENTCafé. When he’s not thrashing his keyboard, he takes pleasure in photography, aquascaping and all kinds of DIY projects. Feel free to get in touch with Balazs via email or Twitter.

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