Surprising New Trend in American Apartment Size

Wilshire Vermont Station Apartments in Los Angeles, CA

Wilshire Vermont Station Apartments in Los Angeles, CA

How much space do you need?

Do you prefer a palace of an apartment? Or could you live in a micro unit that’s barely big enough to spin around in?

When it comes to apartment size in the United States, the traditional wisdom has been that bigger is better. But in different countries across the globe, tiny apartment spaces are typical.

Find out how your apartment square footage stacks up to the rest of the world. Take a look at how a few countries compare to the United States regarding average apartment living space.

Who’s got the most square footage?
According to information shared on the website Apartment Therapy, Americans enjoy some of the largest homes in the world.  A British organization studied home sizes worldwide, determining that Americans typically enjoy the most square footage and usable floor space. Australia’s homes came in second. And British homes came in last, averaging a paltry 818 square feet for a two-person household.

Space is certainly at a premium in the United Kingdom. While that 818 square feet figure may seem small at first, it appears more generous when you consider what it’s like to live in some of the most populous urban centers in Asia. In Hong Kong, China, for instance, micro apartments are the trend, if not the rule. Rent is high in this bustling metropolis, and space comes at a premium. It’s not uncommon for renters to live in less than 400 square feet. Busy business travelers can even rent 7-square-foot apartment “pods” — spaces just big enough to crawl in and sleep — for around $40 a month. In places like Hong Kong, space itself is the luxury.

Make the most of your small space:
11 Ways to Make a Small Apartment Seem Bigger
How to Decorate a Small Apartment
9 Tips to Make Your Studio Apartment a Tiny Treasure

Average U.S. apartment size
Back in this country, apartment floor space has certainly seen its share of changes. Apartment sizes in the United States grew for many years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which has been tracking the average apartment size since the 1970s. Their records show that square footage continued to grow — until recently.

According to Multifamily Executive, as of 2013, the average apartment size today is 982 square feet. Along the West Coast in places like Seattle, Washington, or in Texas towns like Dallas and Houston, apartment sizes are shrinking. Micro apartments are also showing up in large cities like New York and San Francisco, where space is truly at a premium.

Though most developers are building smaller units, not all cities across the United States are following the trend. In Washington, D.C., apartment living spaces are actually getting bigger, for instance, even in a high-demand market.

6 thoughts on “Surprising New Trend in American Apartment Size

  1. Over 900 sq. ft.? I don’t believe it at least not in any major city such as NY, Chicago, San Fran., Dallas, Atlanta and so on. The average today is 400 sq. ft. for about $1000 and up plus utilities. The problem is not many people make that amount of money. If you have the 900 sq. ft. how many people are sharing and paying? In Chicago it gets you a dinky place on the northside if you are lucky, that is where you will find the 400 sq. ft. for $1000 and up. The area of affordability is definitely shrinking as did the job market some years ago. It is really not any better today.

  2. I could never live in a micro apartment. I could if single manage a 800- 900 sq ft apartment …agree less clutter is better not always the way it is… and storage is important. I think as you get older you realize simple is easier to care for then having to much space with lots of places to store stuff because then you never let go…

  3. I wanted to say, In Ohio, apartments that are 600-800 sq ft usually run about $500-$600 only having to pay electric on top of that. and doesnt start getting into the $1000s unless you are looking at a luxury two story 3 bed 2 bath townhouse. I never have been to the big cities but I guess the cost of living isnt nearly as bad here as some other places. something to think about. I rent a 1400 sq ft house with .5 acre yard for only $750 a month plus utilites. I could not imagine having less space than 900 sq ft. expecially with an Australian Shepherd running around!!

    • This isn’t an accurate representation of the space available to these people. People who live in small apartments within dense and walkable urban neighborhoods do so, in part, to have access to the large amounts of public space cities contain. From public parks to cultural centers to restaurants and the streets themselves, the city allows people much more accessible space than a typical American suburb. Because of this, I feel much less claustrophobic in a smaller city apartment than in a larger suburban home.

      To Patrick (above): there are apartments of around 500 sqft in the most desirable areas of Richmond that go for 500-700.

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