Students. Young adults moving out for the first time. Businesspeople in need of a crash pad in a second city. Big city dwellers who want to live in the most popular parts of town. People just trying to save some money. In the studio vs. one-bedroom apartment argument, there are a lot of reasons why a studio apartment is the best option for many renters.
Many of those feel their studio apartments are just temporary solutions, waiting for a better occasion or a more budget-friendly time to move on up to a one-bedroom apartment, finally having that separated space that comes with more freedom but also a higher price.
However, in these 10 cities — and only in these 10 cities — a move to a one-bedroom unit from a studio is actually cheaper. In the cities below, a studio apartment is actually more expensive than upgrading to a one-bedroom.
Based on the percentage of decrease in the price of an average studio apartment vs. an average one-bedroom during the second quarter of 2020, these are the only cities among the 100 largest in the nation (minus a few that failed to have enough qualifying studio inventory) where moving to a one-bedroom rental from a studio will actually save you money.
So, here are the 10 cities where lease prices for a one-bedroom are lower than a studio.
Residents of Columbus are used to you overlooking them. The city sits in the shadow of the higher-profile Ohio cities of Cleveland and Cincinnati. But most outside of Ohio don't realize that it's Columbus, not the other two cities, that's the largest in the state, and is in fact, the second-largest in the Midwest behind only Chicago and the third-largest state capital in the U.S., larger than even Boston, Atlanta or Denver. And it's, of course, home to Ohio State, the fourth-largest university in the U.S.
Underrated Columbus is a hidden gem and a city of contrasts. It's at once a rust-belt manufacturing town, a center of government and a Midwest college town. But while its other Ohio neighbors garner all the attention, C'bus has quietly positioned itself as a trendy economic and entertainment city, with growing residential populations and booming nightlife, an emergent sports entertainment district and some of America's most stylish neighborhoods like German Village and Short North.
Columbus has seen an increase in population in every single census since its founding and has had double-digit growth for 30 years. And all those people have to go somewhere. New construction is booming and new residents and students alike clamor for studio and one-bedroom apartments. That demand has flattened the difference in rental rates between the two, but leases for studios average $1,138 a month, which is actually $8 more expensive than a one-bedroom unit.
The first of three North Carolina cities on our list, Charlotte is a little different from the rest. The largest city in the state, it's not one of the legendary Carolina college basketball hubs (sorry, UNCC). But it is North Carolina's metropolis. The 15th most populated city in the U.S., it's a major shimmering business and banking town.
It's the corporate home to giant financial institutions like Bank of America, Truist Financial and Wells Fargo East Coast, as well as the NFL's Panthers, the NBA's Hornets, a new MLS team and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Charlotte is not on Tobacco Road, it's a finance superspeedway.
The quality of life and amenities in Charlotte have made the city very attractive for young people and millennials. Not only is Charlotte the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the U.S., but it's also the top city in the nation for young-adult population growth (under age 35).
It's not difficult to see how that growth leads to a need for affordable rental housing, demand for studio apartments and new construction development for one-bedroom units, flipping rates. At $1,368 monthly on average, a studio apartment rents for more than $550 more a year than an average one-bedroom.
Just 100 minutes up Interstate 10, Louisiana's state capital offers much of what makes New Orleans such a destination. Baton Rouge holds a Mardi Gras celebration (with eight parades!) second to none, features its own amazing Cajun cuisine (often more authentic) and an incredible blues, jazz and Creole music scene. But as close to NOLA as Baton Rouge is, it's also a world away.
Baton Rouge offers just as wonderful a Louisiana experience as New Orleans but in a more laid back and less touristy setting, with smaller crowds, a lower crime rate and a large research university with a championship football team in Louisiana State.
With 30,000 students and additional thousands of state employees, as well as an economically diverse populace, Baton Rouge has a citizenry in need of easy and affordable housing pushing pricing for studio units up 4 percent above one-bedrooms. At just more than $1,000 a month, studios are $41 more expensive on average than their one-bedroom counterparts.
Sitting just 12 miles from Dallas at its nearest point, Fort Worth is undeniably overshadowed by its larger neighbor to the East, but the city is quickly becoming a worthy competitor to Dallas' dominance. But with a population of almost 60 percent that of Big D's, Fort Worth is no secondary city within the Metroplex.
Born as an Old West commercial cattle drive stop along the Chisolm Trail, Fort Worth carries on the tradition today with cattle drives down Exchange Avenue twice a day, every day. As the cost of living and the population age rise in Dallas, longhorn steers aren't the only mammals migrating to Fort Worth. Sporting a robust job market, easier commutes and a more laid-back “real Texas" vibe, it's an increasingly popular choice for those moving to DFW, as well as those moving within the area.
Residents are looking towards Cowtown for cheaper living options suitable for young people, including modern, sustainable studio apartments. The demand for rental units has pushed the rents for a studio in Fort Worth to $1,353 monthly on average, which is more than $64 and 4.77 percent higher than average one-bedroom leases.
From all corners of the nation, and even the world, up-and-coming and budding musicians flock to the clubs and streets of Nashville in hopes of becoming the next big star. And increasingly, these hopefuls aren't simply country artists. Nashville has become a mecca for emerging musicians across genres, and as New York gets more expensive and out-of-reach for many struggling artists, indie, rock and rap musicians are choosing the industry infrastructure of Nashville.
So, of course, as more young adults chasing dreams (or attending the many universities in the "Athens of the South") without a ton of disposable income inundate Nashville, the demand for cheap housing increases. This inevitably drives up the prices of studio apartments, which now rent for more than $100 above one-bedrooms. An average studio in Music City leases for a pricey $1,880, more than 5 percent higher than a one-bedroom unit.
Memphis is one of the most underrated cities in America. Beale Street is a cacophony of music, art, drink and eateries. Mud Island is a stunning park set on an island just off the Mississippi riverfront. And the National Civil Rights Museum celebrates the fight for equal rights where Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. And OK sure, there's also no better place in the world for barbecue, nowhere else to experience real electric Mississippi blues and, yes, to visit Elvis at Graceland.
From downtown districts along the river to the sprawling suburban-style neighborhoods out east and lining the state border, Memphis is a diverse, thriving city with a growing population a little less in demand than trendy Southern music and foodie hubs like New Orleans, Austin and Nashville. And that growth and an increase in new apartment construction have lowered demand and prices for one-bedroom apartments — an average one-bedroom unit is more than $70 cheaper than an average studio, which rents for $1,026 on average.
Just up the road from its intertwined neighbor and state capital Raleigh (see below), Durham is one of America's leading research cities and healthcare centers. But the world knows Durham as a college town, the home to Duke University and its Blue Devils basketball program.
And it's that university community along with Durham's large number of medical, healthcare and research professionals that bring people from all over the world. These young relocators often come alone to the city, whether to work or attend school, snatching up cheap studio apartments and driving up prices past the tipping point of making them the pricier option.
For a smaller-sized college town, Durham's average lease rate for a studio apartment of $1,388 is quite high. But it's still nearly 9 percent lower than an average one-bedroom, which runs more than $120 less.
And a mere 25 miles southeast of Durham downtown-to-downtown is Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina. But you won't get any relief in studio rent driving down Tobacco Road from Duke to North Carolina State, as studio rents are nearly identical, just a literal couple of bucks more at $1,391.
But the percentage decrease to upgrade to a one-bedroom is a slightly steeper 14 percent. While sharing the Triangle, exits along U.S. 70 and a heated college basketball rivalry along with similarly-priced rentals, Raleigh and Durham are very different cities.
Durham, as noted, is a nationally-recognized research and tech hub, while Raleigh is a government town as the state capital. Duke basketball rules in Durham, but while Raleigh folks love their Wolfpack, they're also a professional sports town as home to the NHL's Hurricanes.
Durham has an abundance of trendy nightspots and greenways and is an international gathering seat, while Raleigh is a more traditional business center with a plethora of subdivisions and a friendly old South vibe. And not to mention, Raleigh is nearly twice the size of Durham.
Located in Southern Los Angeles County, Long Beach is not just L.A.'s largest suburb, but indeed the key municipality among Southern California's Gateway Cities. But while much of the Gateway district consists of high population density urbanized towns, Long Beach is an oasis along the coast, a beach city with a diverse economy.
Long Beach is best known as the home dock for the iconic retired cruise ship the Queen Mary, which now sits in Long Beach Harbor. The nearby Port of Long Beach is the busiest container port in the nation after the Port of Los Angeles, and it is the fifth-largest in the western world.
But what makes Long Beach world-famous are its harbor sports, including the Congressional Cup sailing competition, the only Grade 1 match race in the U.S., and the famous Catalina Ski Race in which skiers set off from the Long Beach City Beach to race around Catalina Island and back.
And while California surfing got its start in Long Beach more than a century ago, the 1949 breakwater reduced waves to a standstill and diminished surfing.
With so many beachgoers and students from the University of California at Long Beach, studio apartments are at a premium, and expensive. At an average of $2,232 monthly, studios are more than 14.5 percent more than comparable one-bedrooms.
It might surprise you that this Dallas-Fort Worth suburb is one of the most diverse cities in the nation. In fact, ZIP Code 75038, in the heart of Irving, is the single most diverse ZIP in America with nearly identical populations of residents with white, Black, Latino and Asian backgrounds. But you may know this 'burb — the third-largest in the Metroplex — as the home of both Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and the Cowboys' Texas Stadium.
But Irving, named for "Rip Van Winkle" and "Sleepy Hollow" author Washington Irving, is also the spot where the percentage decrease in lease price from a studio to a one-bedroom apartment is the highest in the entire nation. Irving is located in between Dallas and Fort Worth, a little closer and north of the Big D, making it one of the most suitable and popular bedroom communities in Texas. But Irving isn't a sleepy suburb. It's a self-contained community where if you never wish to leave for the big city, you don't have to.
Irving has a vibrant downtown, both within the Las Colinas development and elsewhere along its nightlife and entertainment district. The city is a convention hub with the Irving Convention Center and its Westin hotel and the Toyota Music Factory, an entertainment complex featuring an 8,000-capacity music venue, an outdoor events plaza, retail shops and restaurants and even office space.
All this excitement and availability has made Irving a destination for singles and commuters which has raised both the demand for and the price of studio apartments. At $1,863 a month on average, a studio is nearly 21 percent more expensive than the average one-bedroom.
There are a number of cities where it's really darn expensive to move out of that studio apartment into a one-bedroom. These 25 cities where the percent increase in lease price from a studio unit vs. a one-bedroom is the steepest.
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In many places, especially in big cities or along the coasts, there has been an increase in availability of high-end luxury studio apartments. These units are not the closets-with-a-kitchen typical of many studios. They're large, open-floorplan spaces in lofts and penthouses in the chicest of neighborhoods.
As well in any city, even just an increase in new construction of apartment buildings and complexes with fresh and modern studio apartments can push the price as renters demand more. Conversely, as more new one-bedroom construction occurs, the prices of one-bedrooms can fall due to the addition of more om vacancies.
But overall, it's simply the law of supply and demand. In certain cities — college towns, rising Midwest hotspots, tech hubs where more young people are moving for first jobs — there are more people looking for studio apartments (and fewer seeking one-bedrooms) because of their convenience and sustainability. The more renters snagging available studio units, the fewer units will be available, and scarcity causes leases to go up.
When comparing studio vs. one-bedroom apartments, it's unusual but not impossible to run into an average studio that's more expensive — and sometimes quite a bit more — than an upgrade to a one-bedroom. The good news is that in these towns, studio apartments are not the holes-in-the-wall of period films, but shiny new and comfortable residences with convenience to trendy and popular parts of town with a list of amenities.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average of rent prices in Q2 2020 from Apartment Guide and Rent.com's multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
We looked at the 100 most populous cities according to 2018 U.S. Census Bureau population estimates and eliminated all markets with fewer than an average of 10 available units from April 2020 to June 2020.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.