Apartments are slowly, but surely, shrinking in cities across the country as developers are trying to squeeze in more units to meet the growing demand for urban living. The national average size of new apartments – those completed in 2016 – has shrunk to 934 square feet, down from 2006 when apartments clocked in at 1,015 sq. ft. Overall, the average size of US apartments is currently 889 square feet, irrespective of when they were built.
But how do individual states stack up to one another when it comes to living space? To give you a better perspective on what rentals bring to the table in terms of square footage, we’ve turned to data from Yardi Matrix and taken a look at average apartment sizes in 50+ unit buildings across the US. New York apartments may not be as small as you think. But neither are prices.
Georgia Apartments Biggest in US, 21% Bigger than California’s
When broken down by state, Georgia apartments take the cake, offering 1,019 sq. ft. of living space, followed by Alabama and South Carolina. Floridians enjoy quite large abodes featuring 957 square feet on average, as well as Mississippians for whom a 954-square-foot-home is commonplace.
Compared to Kansas, the state with the smallest apartment sizes on our list, Georgia apartments are 29% larger. Apartments in California are 21% smaller than those in Georgia – but before you get your hopes up – rents run straight in the opposite direction. Georgia’s average rent could make a California renter jealous anytime: $1,021 vs. $1,739.
Are Smaller Apartments a Cheaper Housing Option? Yes and No.
Right along with location and community amenities, apartment size is one of the factors that dictate what makes a good housing option. And while every state (and city) boasts unique attractions and features when it comes to being a great place to call home, the amount of space that you get for your money is quite helpful in determining where you can get the most bang for your buck.
Of course, there’s much debate around how much space you actually need to live comfortably. Some say it’s at least 400 sq. ft. per person, others argue that 250 sq. ft. or way less is enough for making it a fun housing experience. It’s more often related to personal preferences and needs, how many people make up the household, and the historical building characteristics of an area. Interestingly, tiny living is gaining ground and has become a hip choice for many of our nation’s young renters who don’t mind sacrificing space for a better location, close to jobs and social hotspots. It is true that it can be a smarter housing option in today’s economy; it certainly is a greener alternative as it helps lower one’s carbon footprint and encourages a simpler way of life. It can also be more affordable as smaller apartments come with lower utility bills; and you are ultimately forced to own less stuff than you’d normally own living in a bigger abode (you’ll probably no longer need a bookcase to store all those books by now anyway as there are e-book readers for that). But when it comes to actual lower prices, choosing a smaller home does not always mean a lower monthly rent. For some renters, the question is: are you ready to pay more to live in a tiny home?
We’re used by now to the eye-popping fees that New York area renters pay for enjoying a cosmopolitan lifestyle (think $4,000 for an 800-square-foot apartment in Manhattan and $2,900 for a 700-square-foot rental home in Hoboken). But there are 5 other states that appeared in both our top 10 of the most expensive states by average rent and our top 10 of states with the smallest average apartment size: California, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Illinois, and Washington! Feel like you want to pick up your things and move? There are alternatives!
If you’re seeking the best of both worlds – space and affordability, that is – head to Mississippi, Kentucky, or Nebraska. It’s reverse sticker shock for a change! All three post reasonable rents, much lower than the national average ($1,219 in September). What you get in return, respectively, is jazz, crisp evening air, a pretty vibrant sports scene (Go Wildcats!), and some of the biggest homes in the nation!
Don’t Think McMansions are Out of the Housing Game – Average Single-Family Home Size Keeps on Growing
Apartments may be shrinking nationwide, but single-family homes – that’s an entirely different story. Once you get out of the renting game and have gathered enough money for a down payment, the typical house that you get is quite comfortable, space-wise. According to recent data from the U.S. Census cited by The New York Times, the average size of newly-built homes in America is rising – now covering an impressive 2,687 sq. ft. – with more than 31% of all new homes totaling more than 3,000 sq. ft.
How do these numbers compare in your book? Would you be willing to sacrifice space for a hip pad in the center of the action?
About RentCafe and How We Compiled the Data
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 apartment size data across the US. The report is exclusively based on apartment data related to buildings containing 50 or more units.
Apartment size data was provided by Yardi Matrix, an apartment market intelligence source and RentCafe’s sister company which researches and reports on all multifamily properties of 50+ units across 121 markets in the United States.
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