The average size of a newly built apartment in the United States, as of 2018, is 882 square feet. A look at apartment size trends over the last few years makes it clear that the average apartment is gradually becoming smaller.
As rent prices continue to rise, so does the cost of living alone. Studio apartments have an average cost per square foot of $3.19, while a two-bedroom unit is just $1.73. With one- and two-bedroom units making up a combined total of 81% of the rental market, it’s likely that the number of individuals renting alone is declining.
When it comes to apartment size, there’s a lot of data to unpack. Whether you’re curious where you can find the largest rentals or how the rental market is evolving, here are some insights around apartment size you should know.
How apartment size varies by floor plan
The average square footage of a studio apartment is decreasing.
In 2018, the average square footage of a newly built studio apartment in the United States was reported to be 514 square feet. This number marks a significant average decrease of 10.3% in these dwellings since the 573 square foot average reported in 2008. According to data from the National Multifamily Housing Council, studio apartments make up 11% of the rental market.
The average one-bedroom apartment is 32% larger than the average studio.
As of 2018, the average size of a newly built one-bedroom apartment is 757 square feet. In 2008, the average newly built one-bedroom was 790 square feet, meaning the current average size of these units is a stark 30% smaller than it was then. However, the average size decrease between 2008 and 2018 was only 4.2%. One-bedroom apartments comprise 41% of the rental market.
The average two-bedroom apartment is 34% larger than a one-bedroom apartment.
Two-bedroom apartments account for 40% of all rentals and have an average size of 1,138 square feet, as of 2018. These units are about 381 square feet larger than the average one-bedroom apartment.
Interestingly, the two-bedroom is the only floor plan that appears to have increased in size over the last decade. In 2008 the average two-bedroom measured 1,132 square feet– about 0.5% smaller than the current average.
How rent varies by apartment size
The average cost of a studio apartment is 4% less than a one-bedroom unit.
According to data from Apartment Guide, the average cost of a studio apartment, as of June 2021, is $1,641 while a one-bedroom unit is $1,711. For just $70 more, you could gain an average of 32% more floorspace.
(Source: Apartment Guide)
A two-bedroom apartment costs 13% more than a one-bedroom unit.
The average two-bedroom apartment in the US rents for $1,972. For $262 more each month, you could trade your one bedroom from a two-bed and gain 381 square feet.
(Source: Apartment Guide)
When you consider the cost per square foot of renting an apartment, two-bedroom units offer the best value.
To determine the cost per square foot, simply divide the cost of rent by the square footage of the unit.
Using this formula, the average cost per square foot of renting a two-bedroom apartment is $1.73. A one-bedroom apartment costs $2.26/sq ft, and a studio apartment comes in at $3.19/sq ft.
Sharing a two-bedroom with a roommate is 40% less costly than renting a studio apartment.
Assuming an even split, you would pay $986 per month to share a two-bedroom with a roommate. That’s $655 less than you would pay to rent a studio apartment on your own.
When you then consider that you would be splitting the costs of all utilities as well, your savings increase even more.
The average apartment size is getting smaller
On average, apartment sizes appear to be getting smaller, with studios experiencing the largest average decrease in square footage, losing 10.3% since 2008.
Two-bedroom rentals are the only floor plan that has seen an average increase in size since 2008, though the number is negligible, at less than 1%.
But, does an average decrease in square footage represent a significant decrease in living space?
With open-concept floor plans more popular than ever, it’s possible that even though apartments are getting smaller, they may feel equally spacious. A well-optimized layout can make even a small space feel perfectly comfortable.
However, a well-optimized layout doesn’t take into account occupancy rates (more on this later).
Average apartment size by state
The average size of an apartment in the United States is 882 square feet, but the US is a big country, so it’s no surprise that the average apartment size would fluctuate from state to state. However, you may be surprised to see which states tend to have the largest apartments versus those with the smallest.
If you want the largest apartment, move to Georgia.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, but apparently, that doesn’t apply to apartment size. Georgia leads the country with the roomiest rentals while a series of other southern states follow.
Check out the five states with the largest apartments, on average.
|State||Average Apartment Size (Sq. Ft.)|
You will find the smallest apartments in Kansas.
Kansas has an average apartment size of 791 square feet, the smallest of all the states. While the mention of small apartments likely conjures images of New York City, you might be surprised to find that the state of New York ranks fifth in terms of smallest apartments.
The smallest apartments in the country are not confined to a single region (unlike the largest apartments, which dominate the South). Instead, the most compact rentals are scattered throughout the country.
Check out the five states with the smallest apartments, on average.
|State||Average Apartment Size (Sq. Ft.)|
Leading the nation in apartment size, at 1,019 square feet, the average apartment in Georgia is 22% larger than the average apartment in Kansas, measuring 791 sq. ft.
The data makes one thing clear: if you’re looking for a spacious apartment, you’ll find it in the South.
Average apartment size by city
Perhaps unsurprisingly, similar trends emerge when looking at the average apartment size in cities across the United States.
Check out the rest of the rankings for cities with the largest apartments:
|City||Average Size (Sq. Ft.)|
|Virginia Beach, VA||973|
Tallahassee, Florida, is home to the nation’s largest apartments, on average.
With an average square footage of 1,038, Tallahassee apartments are about 15% larger than the national average of 882 square feet.
Of the ten cities with the largest apartment sizes, only one is located outside of the South.
With an average of 970 square feet, Henderson, Nevada, comes in 10th when looking at the cities with the largest apartments.
Some of the largest apartments in the nation in the Atlanta area.
3 out of 10 of the cities with the largest apartments in the US are suburbs of Atlanta: Marietta, Decatur, and Norcross. Each of these cities has an average apartment size in the 1000 square foot range. On average, these cities boast apartments 20% larger than the typical rental in the US.
The city of Atlanta offers large apartments also. With an average square footage of 987 square feet, Atlanta apartments are approximately 10% larger than the national average.
Now let’s take a look at the cities with the smallest apartments, on average:
|City||Average Size (Sq. Ft.)|
|San Francisco, CA||737|
|Los Angeles, CA||771|
The cities with the smallest apartments are found throughout the country, but not in the South.
It’s probably not surprising to see cities in New York and California on the list of smallest apartments. However, it is interesting to see that the other cities on the list are spread throughout the country.
Of course, cities in the South lead the country with some of the largest apartments, so it’s no surprise that this region isn’t represented on the list of cities with the smallest apartments.
Seattle tops the list of smallest apartment sizes.
With an average square footage of 711, Seattle apartments are about 19% smaller than the average US apartment and about 3% smaller than those found in Manhattan.
Average square footage per person
A large apartment is one thing, but if you share your rental with a family member or roommate, your personal square footage is reduced.
Perhaps, instead of asking where you can find the largest apartment, you should be concerned with where you are most likely to find the most personal square footage. We can determine the personal square footage of an apartment by dividing the area of the unit by the average number of occupants.
According to RENTCafe, the average space per person across the country is 526 square feet.
The cities with the smallest apartments don’t necessarily have the smallest average square footage per person.
Seattle apartments are 19% smaller than the national average, but personal square footage in Seattle is only 10% less than average. Seattle is home to the smallest apartments in the nation at 711 sq. ft., and the average personal square footage is 474.
In Manhattan, the average space per person is 393 square feet, about 25%, less than the national average. Meanwhile, in Chicago, renters enjoy about 517 sq. ft. of personal space, which is only 1.7% less than average.
In Portland, Oregon a city where apartments typically measure 13% less than the national average, renters have an average of 531 square feet of personal space. This works out to about 1% more than the average renter in the US.
The cities with the largest apartments routinely have lower than average personal square footage.
In Tallahassee, Florida, apartments measure an average of 1,038 sq. ft., and each home has an average of 2.33 inhabitants. That makes the average square footage per person in Tallahassee is just 445, about 15% lower than the national average.
Marietta, Georgia has an average of 2.35 persons per household. When you factor in an average rental size of 1,025 sq. ft., each person is privy to just 436 sq. ft. of personal space. That’s about 17% less than the national average, and 8% less than in Seattle, the city with the largest apartments.
In Columbia, South Carolina, apartments measure 1,006 sq. ft. on average, and hold 2.21 residents. This amounts to 455 sq. ft. of personal space, 13% less than the national average.
This trend continues when you compare the data on the rest of the top 10 cities with the nation’s largest apartments.
Insights from the fastest-growing cities in the United States
We compared data from the US Census Bureau with data from RENTCafé to compare the average apartment size in the 15 fastest-growing cities in the United States. The data compares cities that led the nation in population growth between 2010 and 2019.
|City||Average Apartment Size (Sq. Ft.)||Average Rent||Persons per Household||Nearest Big City|
|Buckeye, AZ||1,409||$1,473||3.36||Phoenix, AZ|
|South Jordan, UT||1,014||$1,389||3.42||Salt Lake City, UT|
|Murfreesboro, TN||1,005||$1,184||2.63||Nashville, TN|
|Meridian, ID||999||$1,422||2.78||Boise, ID|
|Franklin, TN||998||$1,527||2.59||Nashville, TN|
|Fort Myers, FL||993||$1,333||2.52||N/A|
|Goodyear, AZ||956||$1,450||3||Phoenix, AZ|
|Mount Pleasant, SC||947||$1,516||2.54||Charleston, SC|
|Frisco, TX||941||$1,502||2.94||Dallas, TX|
|McKinney, TX||937||$1,361||2.89||Dallas, TX|
|Irvine, CA||921||$2,424||2.7||Santa Ana, CA|
|Cedar Park, TX||919||$1,333||3.06||Austin, TX|
|Conroe, TX||919||$1,137||2.67||Houston, TX|
|Round Rock, TX||913||$1,253||3.16||Austin, TX|
|New Braunfels, TX||894||$1,247||2.72||San Antonio, TX|
Each of the 15 fastest-growing cities has apartment sizes above than the national average of 882 square feet.
It’s clear that renters are favoring cities that offer more space. Buckeye, AZ leads with an average rental size of 1,409 sq ft, 37% larger than the national average. New Braunfels, TX has the smallest floorsplace of these cities, but still measures 1% larger than average.
14 out of 15 of the fastest-growing cities in the US are located on the edges of major cities.
Based on this data, it’s possible that renters are drawn to the suburbs in search of more spacious living areas.
Of the 15 fastest-growing cities, 12 of them have more than the average number of persons per household.
The average persons per household from 2015 – 2019 was 2.62. Only 3 of the fast-growing cities listed above have households with fewer than the average inhabitants. Could larger living spaces and larger households be part of the draw of these cities?
(Source: US Census Bureau)
6 of the 15 fastest-growing cities are located outside of Dallas, Nashville, or Phoenix.
This is likely related to the fact that all three of these cities have seen favorable job growth in recent years.
With this in mind, let’s see what we learn when comparing the apartment sizes within these major cities to those in the fast-growing suburbs.
For Phoenix, we’ll look at the suburbs Buckeye and Goodyear. For Dallas, we can compare Frisco and McKinney, and for Nashville, Franklin and Murfressboro.
|City||Average Apartment Size (sq. ft.)||Average Rent|
If you want more space, move to the suburbs.
Perhaps unsurprisingling, when we analyze the major cities in the table above in comparison with their suburbs, the suburbs consistently offer larger apartments.
Apartments in Buckeye, Arizona are about 37% larger than the national average, and 43% larger than in Phoenix, the nearest big city. In another suburb, Goodyear, apartments are approximately 15% larger than the average Phoenix apartment.
Meanwhile, apartments in Frisco, Texas are 10% larger and McKinney apartments are about 11% larger than those in Dallas.
The same trend holds true for Nashville suburbs. Apartments in both Franklin and Murfreesboro are about 11% larger than those in nearby Nashville.
The average apartment size has been trending down over the past few years. This could be due to many factors including the increase in rent prices, the cost of building materials, and a myriad of other reasons.
With so much apparent growth in suburbs around major cities, it will be interesting to see how the trends evolve over the next few years. Will the suburbs continue to dominate, offering spacious rentals at reasonable rates, or will there a shift back to major cities? Only time will tell.