If it's just you, studio or efficiency housing might seem desirable, especially in a high-rent district.
The two are similar in most ways.
But whichever you choose, there are a few things to consider before committing to basically one big room for everything you do.
Typically, a studio apartment has one large room in which you can cook, eat, sleep and possibly hang out. The bathroom, thankfully, is a separate room with a door.
An efficiency apartment has a similar layout, but where a studio might have a full-size kitchen, the efficiency has a “kitchenette." (Another term for an “efficiency apartment," is a “bachelor apartment," a throwback to the days when we didn't expect men to cook for themselves. That really was a thing.)
Rents for studios dropped slightly in 2020. According to Apartment Guide's annual rent report, as of October 2020, “Rent prices have increased modestly year-over-year except for studio apartments, which have decreased." The national average on studios went from $1,629 to $1,605 from 2019 to 2020. Not a crazy difference, but that additional $24 has its uses.
The usual suspects — Oakland, New York City and Boston — ask the highest prices for studio apartment rents, $3,108, $2,549 and $2,473, respectively. Four cities — Jacksonville, Louisville, Oklahoma City and San Antonio — rank in the top 10 for lowest rent prices and biggest drops.
While there are no hard stats on rents for efficiency apartments, they're typically less than that of studio apartments.
The other costs to consider are utilities, and size matters. Smaller means lower payouts for things like electricity and heating and air conditioning.
The kitchen aside, whether it's a studio or efficiency housing, you're talking about small-space living, and there's a lot to take into account.
Dining makes up a big portion of your day, but even if you choose an efficiency, don't despair if you like to prepare meals. There are myriad new appliances like instant pots, air fryers, convection ovens and induction cooktops for some old-fashioned plug-and-play meal making.
With just the basic life functions taken care of, there's not a lot of room for entertaining in a studio or efficiency apartment. But you can take cues from tiny house owners to create a dining or workspace by attaching a fold-up table to a wall and purchasing origami-like furniture that does double duty as end tables and guest beds. And, if it's possible to install one, a Murphy bed that tucks back up into a wall is a great solution to add space.
The good news is that cleaning your small apartment is a cinch. The bad news is that because your space is small you may need to clean or at least declutter more often than you might in a larger place so your living space doesn't feel even smaller.
Since you're sharing your sleeping space with your cooking space, you'll need to pay attention to odors and grease. So, clean up as quickly as you can after cooking and make sure you have good ventilation in the apartment. If there's no range hood, crack a window. Or, put out some bowls of white vinegar or baking soda, which will absorb odors.
Although you might be good at decluttering, you'll still have stuff. Storage is at a premium, it seems, no matter the size of your apartment. But if you've only got one closet, you'll need to get creative. For example, invest in wall hooks, purchase some multi-function storage cubes, tuck items under your bed, build a shelf over your door to hold books.
With any small apartment, whether it's efficiency housing or a studio, what goes on outside the building is important. A nearby park or access to entertainment, even a balcony will add to your sense of well-being.
With the only real difference between an efficiency apartment and a studio being the kitchen, think before signing on the dotted line. Unless you've got a handy diner nearby and you can afford to eat out for three squares a day, an apartment with more going on in the kitchen might be a better choice.