As Apartments Are Shrinking, Seattle Tops New York with the Smallest Rentals in the U.S.

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  • The average size of new apartments in the U.S. in 2018 is 941 square feet, 5 percent smaller than ten years ago, with studio apartments shrinking the most, by more than 10 percent; meanwhile, overall rents have increased by 28% over the same period of time.
  • The average size of apartments regardless of year built is 882 square feet, with the largest apartments in the Southeast boasting 975 square feet of living space and the smallest in California, measuring 837 square feet. 
  • Seattle has the tiniest apartments in the country, with an average size of 711 square feet, Manhattan and Chicago the second smallest rentals, 733 square feet, while Tallahassee, FL offers the most spacious rentals in the U.S., 1,038 square feet on average. 

As rental apartments have been growing in both popularity and price over the past decade, their floor plans have been slowly shrinking in size. The average size of a new apartment completed in 2018 in the U.S. is 941 square feet, 52 square feet less than the size of an apartment built ten years ago, according to our newest analysis of apartment sizes using Yardi Matrix data.

Changes in renters’ living habits are literally redrawing floor plans. The largest share of apartment dwellers, millennials prefer living in locations close to restaurants and entertainment rather than having a large kitchen or living room to cook or entertain at home. But the rising interest in smaller living spaces is equally motivated by price, as the need to save on rent sparks demand for smaller units. Unfortunately, renters are paying much more for less. The average rent in newly-built apartments in the U.S. has increased by 28% compared to 10 years ago, while their size has gotten 5% smaller. 

average apartment rent and size

Floor plans of all unit types are shrinking

Studio apartments — the symbol of downtown living — have been cut down the most. The average studio apartment is 10% smaller than 10 years ago, reduced from 573 square feet in 2008 to 514 square feet this year. Contrary to the growing interest in smaller units, studio apartments continue to represent a small piece of the rental market, only 5% nationally of all apartments. One-bedroom rental units make up the largest chunk of the national apartment stock (43%) and their floor plans have decreased by 4% over the last decade, while two-bedroom apartments have seen the least change in size, down by only 0.5% on average.

average apartment size in us

Overall, the average rental apartment size in the U.S. is 882 square feet, regardless of the year of completion. The average U.S. studio apartment has a square footage of 472 square feet, the size of a one-bedroom apartment is 714 square feet, while a two-bedroom apartment has an average living space of 1,006 square feet.


The largest apartments are in the SE, the smallest in CA

Rental apartments look very different from one region to another in terms of how spacious they are. The largest rental units in the U.S. are located in the Southeastern region, with a typical floor plan measuring 975 square feet, followed by apartments in the South, which are 943 square feet in size. The smallest apartments are, surprisingly, not in the Northeast (if you’re automatically thinking New York), but rather in California. Renters in the Golden State make do with 837 square feet, on average, about 138 square feet less space than what renters in the Southeast are used to. Apartments in the Western region are the second smallest, measuring 893 square feet, on average.

average sq ft apartment

In terms of 10-year changes, apartments in California saw the biggest downsizing, 12%. The average Californian apartment is now 116 square feet smaller than 10 years ago, from 974 square feet to 858 square feet. New apartments in the Pacific Northwestern region offer the least elbow room, just 805 square feet, having gotten 10% smaller since 10 years ago. The Southeastern region continues to splurge in size, with the average new apartment sized at 1,007 square feet in 2018, more than 200 square feet larger than Washington and Oregon state rentals. The only region where apartments are constant in size is the Midwest, where the 10-year change is a 1% increase in the average apartment size.

change in apartment size


Tallahassee and Seattle apartments are at opposite ends of the charts

We ranked the top 100 cities with the largest rental stock in the country by the average size of their rental apartments. Given that the Southeast has the largest apartments, it’s not surprising that the top cities with the biggest rentals are in that area. Tallahassee, FL offers its renters the most generous apartment size in the country, with an average square footage of 1,038 square feet across all apartments regardless of the year built. Moreover, the average floorplan of a new apartment built in the state capital in 2018 is a lavish 1,200 square feet, unchanged from ten years ago.

Atlanta and three of its suburbs take 4 of the top 10 spots for cities with the largest rental apartments in the nation. The second most spacious apartments in the U.S. are in Marrieta, GA, boasting an average size of 1,025 square feet. Decatur, GA is fourth with 1,000 square feet, Norcross, GA is sixth, with an average apartment size of 991 square feet. Interrupting Atlanta’s streak is Birmingham, AL in fifth place with an average of 992 square feet. Apartments in Columbia, SC are the third largest in the U.S., with an average living space of 1,006 square feet. Large-size apartments tend to be more common in lower cost, sprawled cities or suburban areas than in high-cost dense urban areas.

The cities that round up our list of 20 cities with the largest apartments in the U.S. are: Gainesville, FL, Atlanta, GA, Virginia Beach, VA, Hendreson, NV, Raleigh, NC, Jacksonville, FL, Knoxville, TN, Baton Rouge, LA, Orlando, FL, Charlotte, NC, Scottsdale, AZ, Greenville, SC, Huntsville, AL, College Station, TX.


largest apartments in cities

See the full list of apartment sizes by unit type in 100 U.S. cities.

It’s rare that New York is not first in something real estate related. With an average size of 711 square feet, Seattle apartments offer 20 square feet less than an average Manhattan rental, 171 square feet less space than the national average apartment of 882 square feet, and a whole 327 less square feet than apartments in Tallahassee. Manhattan and Chicago are tied in second place, with apartments measuring 733 square feet on average, 149 square feet below the national average. Rental apartments in Washington, DC and San Francisco, CA wrap up the top 5 of the nation’s tiniest apartments. Other firm believers in “less is more” are Tucson, AZ, Los Angeles, CA, Glendale, AZPhoenix, AZ, Wichita, KS, Detroit MI, Mesa, AZ, Minneapolis, and Cleveland, OH, with apartments below 800 square feet in size. Just over the 800 square feet mark and wrapping up our list of 20 cities with smallest apartments are: Mesa, AZ, Philadelphia, PA, Portland, OR, Albequerque, NM, Pittsburgh, PA, Toledo, OH, El Paso, TX.

smallest apartments in cities

Apartments in Detroit saw the biggest reduction in size since 2008

Apartments in Detroit have suffered the biggest cuts in size in the last ten years. The average size of a new apartment in Motor City in 2018 is 27% smaller than ten years ago, 720 square feet today compared to 988 square feet a decade ago. New apartments built in Phoenix this year are on average 871 square feet, 19% smaller than they were in 2008. Los Angeles apartments, Boston apartments, and Irvine, CA apartments are also in the top 5 in terms of size reduction.

apartment size decrease

Rental apartments in Lubbock, TX, on the other hand, have seen a sizeable increase in space over the last decade, up 19%. Apartments built in Lubbock in 2018 average as much as 1,326 square feet in size. New rentals in Lewisville, TX are only 891 square feet, an increase of 17% over 2008. Although rentals in San Francisco and Manhattan are among the smallest in the nation, they have been increasing in size in recent years, up by 13% and 12%, respectively, compared to 10 years prior. The newest apartments in San Francisco opened this year have an average size of 840 square feet. Newly-completed Manhattan apartments are on average 802 square feet in size. Baltimore and Miami apartments have each gained 9% in size on average. New apartments in Baltimore measure 871 square feet on average, this year, while those in Miami 834 square feet.

increase apartment size

Ten-year changes in apartment rents and sizes

A few cities have seen dramatic changes in rents and size in opposite directions over the past decade. As Denver became one of the hottest rental markets in the country, apartment rents jumped 84% in the last 10 years, while the average size of apartments decreased by 11%. Nearby Colorado Springs saw a similar path, with rents up 66% and rental sizes down 6%. Another hot market, Seattle saw rent prices increase by 74% in 10 years, while the size of apartments increased by 4%. Renting in tech valley San Jose, CA today is 63% more expensive than a decade ago, while new apartments in the area are 4% smaller.

City*Size 2008Size 2018Change in SizeRent 2008Rent 2018Change in Rent
Denver, CO942841-11%$872$1,60184%
Colorado Springs, CO1,007947-6%$674$1,11966%
Seattle, WA6837114%$1,186$2,06474%
San Jose, CA881844-4%$1,666$2,72263%
Tampa, FL1,129952-16%$864$1,30251%
Portland, OR748707-5%$946$1,51060%
Los Angeles, CA888729-18%$1,649$2,40446%
Austin, TX955878-8%$869$1,34755%
Orlando, FL1,1531,030-11%$952$1,38846%
Dallas, TX1,033952-8%$795$1,17948%
San Diego, CA906825-9%$1,470$2,16047%
Fort Worth, TX982925-6%$712$1,06850%
Phoenix, AZ1,078871-19%$735$99836%
Atlanta, GA933894-4%$939$1,39949%
San Francisco, CA74184013%$2,181$3,59165%
Raleigh, NC1,010923-9%$807$1,14642%
Tempe, AZ9359411%$869$1,30350%
Plano, TX912875-4%$902$1,27742%
Irving, TX919883-4%$801$1,12240%
Mesa, AZ965942-2%$703$96938%
Irvine, CA971817-16%$1,905$2,36524%
Jacksonville, FL1,1431,035-9%$812$1,04729%
Henderson, NV1,1521,007-13%$990$1,21923%
Arlington, VA967823-15%$1,785$2,14720%
Washington, DC8298685%$1,545$2,14339%
Lewisville, TX76489117%$809$1,14141%
Baltimore, MD7988719%$940$1,24232%
Las Vegas, NV1,0701,0650%$866$1,01918%
Houston, TX966947-2%$992$1,08710%
San Antonio, TX961914-5%$1,080$993-8%

*Ten-year historical rent data not available in cities not listed. 

Atlanta boasts the largest one-bedroom and two-bedroom floor plans in the U.S.

The largest studio apartments are in Irvine, CA, with an average floor plan of 586 square feet. Renters searching for a spacious one-bedroom rental will find the largest ones in Atlanta, GA, with 786 square feet of living space. Atlanta also offers the largest two-bedroom apartments, at 1,124 square feet, on average.

The tiniest studio apartments in the country are in Reno, NV, offering just 349 square feet of living space, on average, so tiny they could qualify as micro-apartments in other parts of the country. Then there are places where the size-standard of rental apartments is low by definition. Tucson, AZ is such a place. It has the smallest one-bedroom apartments in the U.S., measuring just 595 square feet, as well as the smallest two-bedroom apartments, which have an average size of 906 square feet.

Check the Average Apartment Size (sq. ft.) in 100 Largest U.S. Cities for Renters:

#CityStateALLStudio1 Bedroom2 Bedroom
9Virginia BeachVA9734677541,029
14Baton RougeLA9495457081,021
20College StationTX945491625909
28Newport NewsVA923443683974
39Little RockAR8844796851,006
40Las VegasNV8843727081,007
44Kansas CityMO8794747261,012
45San JoseCA8794287321,024
48Fort WayneIN876444664984
49New OrleansLA8714807071,004
54St. PetersburgFL8624697031,008
55Fort WorthTX8595116971,019
57Jersey CityNJ8565617451,092
61San DiegoCA848451685996
62Oklahoma CityOK847485700984
63San AntonioTX8474736781,002
64Corpus ChristiTX843490676962
66Salt Lake CityUT842386665958
70St. LouisMO833462685941
73St. PaulMN825468719987
74Colorado SpringsCO822446661950
81El PasoTX812375641917
94Los AngelesCA7715117221,030
96San FranciscoCA7374606951,004


This report was compiled by, a nationwide apartment search website that enables renters to easily find apartments and houses for rent throughout the United States. The apartment size and rent data were provided by Yardi Matrix, a RentCafe sister company specialized in apartment market intelligence, providing up-to-date information on large-scale multi-family properties of 50 units or more in over 130 U.S. markets.

Unit types are categorized by the number of bedrooms (zero, one, two) as defined by Yardi Matrix. The regions included in this report coincide with Yardi Matrix’s market boundaries and may be different from regional boundaries as defined by other sources.

Rankings are based on the top 100 U.S. cities with the largest stock of apartments (sometimes referred to as “largest cities for renters”) located in multi-family buildings of 50 units or more. To ensure a relevant sample size, we excluded cities where the number of units completed in one year was below 300 units. In the rare instances where no apartment data was available for 2018, the data for 2017 was used instead. Similarly, where no apartment data was available for 2008, data for 2009 was used instead. New York City data is available for the Manhattan borough only.

For custom reports on specific markets, please contact our research team at

This article is an updated version of a RentCafe story published in 2016, which can be found here

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 or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology.


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Nadia Balint is a senior creative writer for RENTCafé. She covers news and trends in residential and commercial real estate and their impact on our everyday life, including rental housing, for-sale housing, real estate development, homeownership, market reports, insurance, landlord-tenant laws, personal finance, urban development, economy, sustainability, and social issues. Nadia holds a B.S. in Business Management from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. You can connect with Nadia via email.

Nadia’s work and expertise have been quoted by major national and local media outlets, including CNN, CNBC, CBS News, Curbed, The NY Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Denver Post as well as industry publications, such as GlobeSt, Bisnow, Inman News, Multifamily Executive, and The Commercial Real Estate Show. Nadia also wrote for Multi-Housing News, Commercial Property Executive, HubSpot, and more. Prior to entering the real estate industry, Nadia worked in the legal field, where she gained over 10 years of experience in business, corporate, and real estate law.

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