Self Storage

Highs and Lows of Home Size Evolution: Houses Are Getting Larger While Apartments Are Shrinking

aerial view of Chicago suburbs homes

As the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily changed the way we work, travel, and the way we carry out our lives, our homes have suddenly acquired a new function for many of us, namely ensuring our workspace for those that are able to work from home. Therefore, whether our homes provide enough space becomes an essential question.

A recent STORAGECafé report investigates the changes in the size of new-built homes in the US to determine whether homes can accommodate the current demand for space. The report’s main findings conclude that new single family homes have seen an impressive surge in size, while apartments follow an opposite trajectory. While homes added space to the size of a bedroom, apartments lose one in terms of size. In this context, Americans enjoying less roomy living arrangements can turn to self storage to make up for the lost space at home.

Chicago gets the largest single family homes, followed by LA and Seattle

As the 2010s emerged, home size had followed a continuously growing trend, peaking in 2017, when the median size of a home reached 2,643 square feet. In 2019, homes saw a slight loss in space, reaching 2,611 square feet in size. However, homes gained a total of 143 square feet since 2010. This added space translates to extra rooms, as the three and 4+ bedroom homes represent 89% of the 2019 house inventory. In many houses, there is now enough room for each family member to have their own space. That’s not only due to houses adding more space but also to decreasing household size that was as low as 2.52 people in 2019 according to U.S. Census data.

When it comes to the average home size, location is key. While the national trend holds true for some cities, that’s not the case for many of them. But where can Americans enjoy the most spacious homes? As it turns out, among the 20 biggest cities, new homes gained most space in Chicago within the last decade. While in 2010 an average home in the Windy City registered 2,414 square feet, newly-built houses in 2019 registered 3,330 square feet on average – that’s a whopping 916 square feet more compared to 10 years earlier. Apartment size, however, saw a 53-square-feet decrease for the same time period.

LA follows closely behind Chicago in terms of home size, with a new single family home averaging 3,296 square feet in 2019. While the City of Angels hasn’t experienced such substantial growth in home size as Chicago did from 2010 to 2019, about 196 square feet more were added to the average LA home in 2019 when compared to their 2010 size. Apartments follow the national trend, shrinking by 40 square feet in 2019.

Between 2010 and 2019, Seattle saw 193 square feet added to its new single family homes. While new homes built in 2010 averaged 3,025 square feet, 2019 saw home size jump to 3,217 square feet. New-built apartments in 2019 are, on the other hand, the smallest among the largest cities registering 676 square feet.

Denver, Columbus, and DC delivered the least spacious single family homes in 2019

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Denver takes the cake for the smallest homes built within the last decade among the biggest US cities. In 2019, homes had, on average, 2,056 square feet — that’s a loss of 197 square feet as opposed to new construction in 2010. Apartments followed the same trend, shrinking by 43 square feet within the same time frame.

aerial view of houses in a Denver suburb

Columbus registered the second smallest home size in our top 20 biggest cities, as homes registered 2,105 square feet in 2019. Interestingly, they also shrunk by 197 square feet since 2010, just like their Denver counterpart. Apartments follow the opposite trend, as they gained 43 square feet from 2010 to 2019 when they reached 909 square feet.

Even though our country’s capital homes were the third smallest in 2019 at 2,190 square feet on average, new construction has seen a 336 square-feet jump compared to homes built in 2010. In the case of DC apartments, we see a decrease of 88 square feet for the same decade.

Self storage assists residents living in less spacious homes

Even though houses and apartments in many cities have added space to their square footage, that isn’t the case for so many residents of large cities. Turning to self storage is a viable solution to smaller living quarters, as it helps people to keep their homes uncluttered while some of their belongings are safely stored away from home.

When living in the Emerald City, you may find renting a self storage in Seattle to be more than useful — and it would cost you about $178 per month to rent a 10×10 unit. Self storage can also prove to be a necessity for the space-challenged residents of New York and Los Angeles, who would pay $225 and $237, respectively, per month for the same type of unit.

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About the author

Mirela Mohan

Mirela is a creative writer for STORAGECafé. With an academic background in English and translation, Mirela now covers a range of topics including real estate trends, lifestyle and economy. Her previous experience in proofreading academic articles has inspired Mirela to choose a writing career path. In her free time, Mirela enjoys reading, but also hiking and creating art. You can contact Mirela via email.

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