The top 3 U.S. cities where new rental apartments have gotten smaller—and NYC isn’t one of them

The top 3 U.S. cities where new rental apartments have gotten smaller—and NYC isn’t one of them

Unfortunately for apartment dwellers, the walls may feel like they’re closing in. The average size of new apartments in 2022 was 30 square feet smaller than the year before, the sharpest drop in the last 10 years, according to a recent study from

The share of one-bedroom and studio apartments grew to 57% of new apartments in 2022, up from exactly half of new builds 10 years ago. That’s part of why the average size of all apartments has shrunk.

While RentCafe found three-bedroom units grew by 15 square feet in the last year, the average size of two-bedroom, one-bedroom, and studio units all fell by at least 10 square feet. 

RentCafe used data from its market intelligence sister website, Yardi Matrix, to examine how square footage has changed in the 100 U.S. cities with the largest stock of apartments. 

Though nationally, apartments have shrunk over the last 10 years, not all apartment dwellers are feeling the pinch. Here are the cities where apartment sizes have changed the most.


Cities where new apartments have gotten smaller

New Yorkers may be the first to tell you how small their living spaces are. Three of the city’s five boroughs — Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan — count among the five cities with the smallest new apartments overall.

Seattle’s average 689-square-foot apartments earn the distinction of being the smallest in the country. Luckily, that’s not where new housing size is shrinking fastest.

Apartments in Silver Spring, Maryland, decreased by the most square-feet (114) over the last ten years. Decatur, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama, follow closely, with new pads losing 100 and 96 square-feet each, respectively.

These are the 15 cities where the average new apartment size has decreased the most over the last 10 years:

Cities where new apartments have gotten bigger

If you want to go big, go South. According to RentCafe’s analysis, 11 of the 15 cities with the largest average new apartment size are in that region, led by Tallahassee and Gainesville, Florida, and Mobile, Alabama.

But cities where new apartments have grown the most over the last 10 years are sprinkled throughout the country. Tucson, Arizona, leads, the pack, and its new apartments beats the next city’s — Tallahassee, Florida’s — growth by over 100 square feet.

The average new apartment size grew the most in these 15 cities: 

How to get the most out of your space

Finding a bigger home if you feel cramped is not always feasible, given the country’s current housing shortage and the fact that more space often means a much higher rent.

If you’re willing to move, you may be able to get more space for less money in a different housing market. The average apartment in Brooklyn is a tight 692 square-feet and costs a median $2,109 per month according to Apartment List, compared with the average 805 square-foot apartments in Salt Lake City that rent for a median $1,319.

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