Average apartment sizes fall to 10-year low


by Dan Rafter

Developers continue to add modern multifamily units to cities across the Midwest. And these new units? They’re getting smaller.

According to RENTCafe, the average size of apartment units completed in 2016 has fallen to 934 square feet. That’s the smallest average size for new-construction apartment units since 2006, when the average size stood at 1,015 square feet. Overall, the average size of all U.S. apartment units is 889 square feet, according to RENTCafe.

However, there is one Midwest city in which new apartment units tend to be larger, Omaha. Omaha ranked ninth on RENTCafe’s list of cities with the biggest new-construction apartment units. The average size of a new studio in Omaha is 477 square feet, while a one-bedroom comes with an average of 758 square feet of living space. RENTCafe.com found that the average new-construction two-bedroom unit in Omaha boasts 1,090 square feet of living space.

The city with the largest newly built apartments was Atlanta, with two-bedroom units here averaging 1,125 square feet of living space.

And the city with the smallest average apartment units? That would be Tucson, Arizona.

In other major Midwest cities, renters can expect one-bedroom units in Chicago to be around 719 square feet, while in Indianapolis, the average one-bedroom unit contains 689 square feet of living space. In Columbus, that number stands at 670, while in Detroit it is 701. In Memphis, renters will find an average of 710 square feet of living space in one-bedroom units, while that number drops to 702 in Nashville. Louisville one-bedroom units average 740 square feet, while Milwaukee one-bedroom units average 687.

These numbers aren’t surprising. Developers today are focusing more on the common areas of apartment buildings, investing more money in clubhouses, community centers, rooftop decks and heated swimming pools. As these common-area spaces become larger, the units in apartment buildings get smaller. This is a trend that is showing no signs of slowing, either.

The most interesting fact, and the best one for building owners? Unit sizes might be falling, but monthly rents are not. They continue to rise.

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