The average apartment space per person is about 540 square feet, based on the ratio of the average apartment size to the average number of renters living in a household across the U.S. As the total apartment size has decreased throughout the past 10 years, so has the amount of living space per renter.
The ideal combination of large apartments and fewer renters sharing an apartment is most likely to be found in the Midwest, where the space per person can be as high as 731 square feet. In particular, the Kansas City metro area is the hot spot for renters looking for more living space, with three of its suburbs landing in the top 10 cities boasting the most apartment space per person.
Millions of Americans have been working and living in the same place for more than two years, and, consequently, the need for privacy is higher than ever. Granted, there are many financial advantages to sharing a rental, but having enough private space where you can spend some “me time”, meditate or just be alone thinking about nothing is paramount these days. And, while not all renters are that lucky, we can help them determine where they can find the most living space per person — especially now that the rental season is in full swing.
Apartment space per renter has been shrinking
For this report, RentCafe.com’s research team analyzed floorplan information of apartments in 254 U.S. cities using Yardi Matrix data and the average number of renters living in a household according to the U.S. Census Bureau. We found that, during the last decade, the total apartment size has been slowly decreasing, from 943 square feet to 913 square feet, on average. At the same time, the number of renters per unit has remained relatively constant, averaging 1.69 persons per apartment. As a result, a renter’s personal space shrank by 25 square feet in that time frame, measuring 540 square feet today, which is about the size of a large master bedroom.
Renters enjoy most personal space in Midwest cities
According to our research, Midwest cities are by far the best option for renters seeking ample “alone” space. Even so, some locations in the South also provide quite generous private spaces, although the number of people sharing the same apartment is slightly higher here.
• Private space per renter: 731 square feet
• Rooms per renter: 2.24
• Average apartment size: 826 square feet
• Average renters per apartment: 1.13
Renters live largest in peaceful Independence, MO, where they get about 731 square feet of private space or 2.24 rooms per person. That’s about 191 square feet more than the national average, about the size of an average bedroom. Rooms per person refer to bedrooms and living room only.
Independence is considered the largest suburb on the Missouri side of the Kansas City metropolitan area. What’s more, the cost of living in Independence and housing prices here tend to be lower when compared to other cities in the region. As a result, many people who live in rental apartments in Independence commute to Kansas City for work. Independence also boasts the lowest average number of renters per unit — 1.13 — well below the national average of 1.69.
2. Olathe, KS
- Private space per renter: 716 square feet
- Rooms per renter: 2.21
- Average apartment size: 845 square feet
- Average renters per apartment: 1.18
Not far from Independence lies Olathe, KS, one of the fastest-growing cities in the state and another suburb of Kansas City. On average, people who live in rental apartments in Olathe have 2.21 rooms all to themselves, which translates into 716 square feet of private space. Due to its booming economy, the cost of living in Olathe is slightly higher than it is in other cities in the region. Still, this quiet bedroom community attracts many young renters looking for good job opportunities in the area. On average, there are 1.18 renters living under the same roof in Olathe.
3. Dayton, OH
- Private space per renter: 707 square feet
- Rooms per renter: 2.21
- Average apartment size: 862 square feet
- Average renters per apartment: 1.22
On the northeastern edge of the Midwest, Dayton, OH is also a great place for those who value privacy. Here, renters not only get a lot of private space, at 707 square feet, but they also get 2.21 rooms just to themselves. Moreover, the amount of private space per renter in Dayton is the size of an entire apartment in San Francisco or Seattle! Plus, the cost of living in Dayton is reasonable and the city has a diverse population of renters, including students and military personnel.
- Private space per renter: 706 square feet
- Rooms per renter: 2.09
- Average apartment size: 911
- Average renters per apartment: 1.29
Renters in Louisville, KY have a great deal of personal space to roam around, at 706 square feet, or just more than 2 rooms. The average number of persons living under the same roof is 1.29. Regardless of the reason behind making the move to this city — be it the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky bourbon or a passion for college basketball — renters enjoy an affordable cost of living in Louisville compared to other cities of similar size.
5. Jackson, MS
- Private space per renter: 698 square feet
- Rooms per renter: 2.16
- Average apartment size: 908 square feet
- Average renters per apartment: 1.30
- Private space per renter: 697 square feet
- Rooms per renter: 2.22
- Average apartment size: 829 square feet
- Average renters per apartment: 1.19
- Private space per renter: 694 square feet
- Rooms per renter: 1.87
- Average apartment size: 972 square feet
- Average renters per apartment: 1.40
In Overland Park, KS, renters enjoy an average of 694 square feet of space per person. That’s 154 square feet — or about the size of a large master bathroom — more than the average American renter’s personal space. Overland Park is the largest suburb of the Kansas City metropolitan area, and many renters commute into Kansas City, MO or Kansas City, KS for work, both of which are just a 20-minute drive away. The average number of people who live under the same roof in Overland Park is 1.4, and the average renter has 1.87 rooms to unwind.
- Private space per renter: 693 square feet
- Rooms per renter: 1.96
- Average apartment size: 963 square feet
- Average renters per apartment: 1.39
- Private space per renter: 692 square feet
- Rooms per renter: 2.08
- Average apartment size: 907 square feet
- Average renters per apartment: 1.31
10. Pearland, TX
- Private space per renter: 688 square feet
- Rooms per renter: 1.84
- Average apartment size: 991
- Average renters per apartment: 1.44
Although the Lone Star State boasts some of the largest apartments in the nation, Texas households tend to be more crowded: The average number of renters living under the same roof is 1.76 at the state level. To that extent, Pearland is the only Texas location in the top 10 cities with the most private space per person: Renters in Pearland enjoy an average of 688 square feet of personal space. But, the city is also the most crowded in our top 10 list, at 1.44 people per apartment.
California renters have least personal space
Personal space comes at a premium these days, and the amount of square feet you get depends on where you live. The notoriously high cost of living in California — combined with crowded cities and a lack of available apartments — is pushing more people to live under the same roof. As a result, a renter’s private space decreases dramatically throughout the Golden State.
To that extent, all California cities in our ranking — except Roseville and Bakersfield — offer less than 500 square feet of personal space per renter. Meanwhile, the average number of people who share an apartment is 2.08 at the state level. Plus, renters have no privacy at all in cities like Fremont, Santa Ana and Salinas. That’s because their personal space is less than one room, which means that they share that room with someone.
Top Cities With Least Personal Space Per Renter
|Rank||City, State||Space per Renter||Rooms per Renter||Avg. No. of Renters/Apt.|
|4||Santa Ana, CA||320||0.94||2.6|
|5||Chula Vista, CA||322||1.00||2.64|
|6||El Cajon, CA||327||1.09||2.45|
|10||West Covina, CA||340||1.05||2.46|
In fact, California hijacked the top 10 cities with the least private space per renter. Fontana offers the least personal space in the nation, at 295 square feet per renter, or about one room. In addition, an average of 2.68 renters share an apartment in Fontana. Compared to the No. 1 contender in our ranking — Independence, MO — more than twice as many renters get about one-third of the personal space in this industrial city in the Inland Empire. To put that into perspective, the amount of private space in Fontana is also about 25% below the minimum square footage a person needs to feel comfortable.
Furthermore, Fontana and Salinas are the only cities in our ranking with an average personal space of less than 300 square feet per renter, almost half the square footage on a national level. These cities also have the highest number of people who share an apartment, at 2.68 and 2.74, respectively — or one extra renter compared to the national average.
RentCafe.com is a nationwide apartment search website that enables renters to easily find apartments and houses for rent throughout the U.S.
To compile this ranking, RentCafe.com’s research team analyzed the average apartment size using data from Yardi Matrix, across 254 cities in the U.S., as well as renter household size from Census ACS 5-year estimates, Table B25010, 2020: Average Household Size of Occupied Housing Units by Tenure, Renter occupied only. The Yardi Matrix apartment data refers to large-scale multifamily properties of 50 units or more, completed through January 2022.
To calculate the average number of rooms per renter, the number of bedrooms plus the living room was divided by the household size (the average number of people living in the household).
The city rankings are based on the ratio of the average apartment size to the average number of renters living in rental apartments in each city. Cities with less than 30 multifamily properties were not included in the analysis.
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