U.S. Apartments Are Getting Smaller


The rent may be too high, but the apartments are getting smaller. Average rental apartment sizes in the U.S. have been steadily decreasing since 2006, according to a new analysis from the real estate search site Rent Café.

In 2006, newly built rental studios averaged 614 square feet, while this year, they average 504 square feet. Overall, the average U.S. apartment is 889 square feet. However, housing stock varies significantly across regions. Apartments in western cities like Tucson and Sacramento tend to be quite a bit smaller than in Atlanta, which has the biggest two-bedroom apartments in the U.S., on average.

But smaller isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Overall, Americans tend to build really big houses—between the 1970s and 2013, the average residential square footage per person doubled—and living so large is terrible for the environment and contributes to unwalkable suburban sprawl. (On average, Europeans live in much smaller dwellings.) Not to mention, because these numbers are based on averages, it might be that an increase in micro-apartments is bringing down the numbers, rather than that every new apartment is closet-sized.

The rental stock in each city affects these averages too. Manhattan doesn’t make the lists of either largest or smallest square footage, but that could be because with such a high number of rentals across both luxury and rent-controlled markets, things even out, while a city where it’s much more common to own than to rent has more limited rental housing options that might skew either large or small in square footage.

But no matter how big your living space is, chances are, it’s getting more expensive. Earlier this year, a report citing government data estimated that rents would likely rise around 3.5 percent this year. Over the course of 2015, rental costs grew 3.6 percent, while real wages went up only 1.8 percent.

You can see how each of the largest 95 cities in the U.S. stacks up here.

All images courtesy Rent Café

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