Apartments Are the Smallest They’ve Been In a Decade, According to One Report

published Mar 3, 2023
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To say the real estate market has been wild in the past three years is a massive understatement, but it’s not just houses that have experienced the ups and downs. According to a new analysis from RentCafe, the average size of newly built apartments has decreased in the past decade by 54 square feet, down from 941 square feet 10 years prior to 887 in 2022.

And while 54 square feet might not seem like a marked decrease, apartment dwellers during the pandemic know that every square inch counts, especially when you suddenly find yourself spending more time at home. Post-pandemic, however, saw the biggest downward trend, with 2022 marking the largest year-over-year decrease in apartment size in a decade, down 30 square feet. Despite the pandemic highlighting the importance of extra elbow room at home, the trend continued after some minor spikes in 2020 and 2021.

Researchers attribute the drop in U.S. apartment size to more studios and one-bedroom apartments entering the market in 2022, reaching a historic share of 57 percent, amid a construction boom in cities across the country.

Naturally, a pandemic-inspired shift to suburbs and smaller cities for many also impacted apartment sizing, with units in Atlanta, Portland, Seattle, Brooklyn, and Detroit feeling the shrinkflation more than other cities. The data noted a drop in square feet of roughly 40-70 on average. Not only are Portland, Queens, and Brooklyn home to the most cramped apartments, new builds typically offer less than 700 square feet of space — 30 to 60 square feet less than the size of apartments 10 years prior.

It’s not all bad news for apartment hunters, however. Places with historically small apartments like Manhattan, San Francisco, or Washington, D.C., actually saw a boost in larger apartments in the past 10 years. New apartments in these highly-coveted cities measure between 740 and 790 square feet, up 10 to 50 square feet since 2013.

If you’re really after extra wiggle room, consider Tucson, Arizona, where the size of apartments increased the most, by 300 square feet, which is 29 percent more than 10 years prior. The pros expect that Florida’s state capital, Tallahassee, will most likely surpass this gain, with apartments estimated to reach 1,400 square feet in the future.

Check out the complete data for more info, especially if you’re looking to make a move in 2023 and want to maximize space any way you can.