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

Rent Cafe Average Apartment Size in US

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Highlights:

  • 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 sqft 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. 

RentCafe Average Apartment size and average rent in the US

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 sqft in 2008 to 514 sqft 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.

How big is an average apartment in the 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 sqft, the size of a one-bedroom apartment is 714 sqft, while a two-bedroom apartment has an average living space of 1,006 sqft.

APARTMENT SIZE BY REGION

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 sqft, followed by apartments in the South, which are 943 sqft 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 sqft, on average, about 138 sqft less space than what renters in the Southeast are used to. Apartments in the Western region are the second smallest, measuring 893 sqft, on average.

RentCafe How big is an average apartment in the US

In terms of 10-year changes, apartments in California saw the biggest downsizing, 12%. The average Californian apartment is now 116 sqft smaller than 10 years ago, from 974 sqft to 858 sqft. New apartments in the Pacific Northwestern region offer the least elbow room, just 805 sqft, 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 sqft in 2018, more than 200 sqft 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.

RentCafe How big is an average apartment in the US

APARTMENT SIZE BY CITY

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 sqft 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 sqft, 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 sqft. Decatur, GA is fourth with 1,000 sqft, Norcross, GA is sixth, with an average apartment size of 991 sqft. Apartments in Columbia, SC are the third largest in the U.S., with an average living space of 1,006 sqft. Large-size apartments tend to be more common in lower cost, sprawled cities or suburban areas than in high-cost dense urban areas.

RentCafe Largest Apartments in the US

It’s rare that New York is not first in something real estate related. With an average size of 711 sqft, Seattle apartments offer 20 sqft less than an average Manhattan rental, 171 sqft less space than the national average apartment of 882 sqft, and a whole 327 less square feet than apartments in TallahasseeManhattan and Chicago are tied in second place, with apartments measuring 733 sqft on average, 149 sqft 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 Los Angeles, Phoenix, Detroit, Minneapolis, and Cleveland, with apartments below 800 sq feet in size.

See the full list of apartment sizes by unit type in 100 U.S. 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 sqft today compared to 988 sqft a decade ago. New apartments built in Phoenix this year are on average 871 sqft, 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.

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 sq ft in size. New rentals in Lewisville, TX are only 891 sqft, 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 sqft. Newly-completed Manhattan apartments are on average 802 sq ft in size. Baltimore and Miami apartments have each gained 9% in size on average. New apartments in Baltimore measure 871 sq ft on average, this year, while those in Miami 834 sqft.

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 sqft. Renters searching for a spacious one-bedroom rental will find the largest ones in Atlanta, GA, with 786 sqft of living space. Atlanta also offers the largest two-bedroom apartments, at 1,124 sqft, on average.

The tiniest studio apartments in the country are in Reno, NV, offering just 349 sqft 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 sqft, as well as the smallest two-bedroom apartments, which have an average size of 906 sqft.

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

#CityStateALLStudio1 Bedroom2 Bedroom
1TallahasseeFL1,0383766971,011
2MariettaGA1,0255517801,119
3ColumbiaSC1,0064757311,048
4DecaturGA1,0005517721,077
5BirminghamAL9924637841,072
6NorcrossGA9915197591,090
7GainesvilleFL990394670999
8AtlantaGA9875617861,124
9Virginia BeachVA9734677541,029
10HendersonNV9705377421,052
11RaleighNC9625067581,063
12JacksonvilleFL9594477421,080
13KnoxvilleTN9564107221,042
14Baton RougeLA9495457081,021
15OrlandoFL9495007211,048
16CharlotteNC9485607461,051
17ScottsdaleAZ9464527641,067
18GreenvilleSC9465157311,050
19HuntsvilleAL9464947311,049
20College StationTX945491625909
21LincolnNE9424727651,064
22PlanoTX9405827641,078
23GreensboroNC937430725993
24DurhamNC9355317351,037
25LouisvilleKY9294987411,004
26OmahaNE9284827601,090
27MobileAL9264257091,010
28Newport NewsVA923443683974
29ChandlerAZ9224407401,017
30Winston-SalemNC920439728983
31TampaFL9204417111,051
32MemphisTN917461714981
33IrvineCA9125867321,027
34LexingtonKY903428702995
35NashvilleTN9024957021,047
36LubbockTX902393670969
37FresnoCA892420692952
38ColumbusOH887388670998
39Little RockAR8844796851,006
40Las VegasNV8843727081,007
41RochesterNY883469721994
42LewisvilleTX8795107201,021
43MiamiFL8794537151,016
44Kansas CityMO8794747261,012
45San JoseCA8794287321,024
46IndianapolisIN878450689982
47HoustonTX8774977261,035
48Fort WayneIN876444664984
49New OrleansLA8714807071,004
50CincinnatiOH869461685955
51RichmondVA868479688938
52ArlingtonVA8675547631,057
53AlexandriaVA8654857371,033
54St. PetersburgFL8624697031,008
55Fort WorthTX8595116971,019
56AustinTX8594607011,032
57Jersey CityNJ8565617451,092
58MilwaukeeWI8525086891,025
59TempeAZ849475687948
60IrvingTX8485057121,016
61San DiegoCA848451685996
62Oklahoma CityOK847485700984
63San AntonioTX8474736781,002
64Corpus ChristiTX843490676962
65AnaheimCA842529731963
66Salt Lake CityUT842386665958
67MadisonWI842426712996
68RenoNV838349695977
69DallasTX8375197021,033
70St. LouisMO833462685941
71DenverCO8324907071,001
72TacomaWA830555670947
73St. PaulMN825468719987
74Colorado SpringsCO822446661950
75AuroraCO821405678951
76SacramentoCA820494675913
77TulsaOK820495691983
78ArlingtonTX818468672968
79BaltimoreMD818466705925
80BostonMA8175267221,037
81El PasoTX812375641917
82PittsburghPA811475702976
83ToledoOH811389637907
84AlbuquerqueNM804406670959
85PortlandOR802463678960
86MesaAZ801434659953
87PhiladelphiaPA801437716980
88ClevelandOH796446690954
89DetroitMI791489698984
90WichitaKS787423661965
91MinneapolisMN7854726951,005
92PhoenixAZ783425658939
93GlendaleAZ781400647933
94Los AngelesCA7715117221,030
95TucsonAZ738399595906
96San FranciscoCA7374606951,004
97WashingtonDC736481721990
98ManhattanNY7334977041,055
99ChicagoIL7334687191,055
100SeattleWA711461676956

Methodology

This report was compiled by RentCafe.com, 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 RENTCafé 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 media@rentcafe.com.

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

About the author

Nadia Balint

Nadia Balint is a senior marketing writer for RENTCafé. She researches and writes about trends in U.S. real estate and their impact on our everyday life. Nadia has a B.S. in Business Management from the College of Business and Management at the Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and an extensive background in business, corporate, and real estate law. You can get in touch with Nadia via email: nadia.balint@yardi.com.