Photo: Robert Clark

Most American renters are now paying higher rents for less room, according to a new report by the listing site RentCafe.

“As rental apartments have been growing in both popularity and price over the past decade, their floor plans have been slowly shrinking in size,” reads the report.

The average size of a new apartment completed in 2018 in the US is 941 square feet — 52 square feet less than the size of an apartment built ten years ago.

Over the last decade, studio apartments have shrunk the most of all unit type, by more than 10 percent.

The average size of apartments — regardless of year built — is 882 square feet, with the largest apartments in the Southeast (975 square feet) and the smallest in California (837 square feet).

At the state level, apartments in California saw the biggest downsizing over the last decade at 12 percent. The typical California rental is now 116 sqft smaller compared to 10 years ago — from 974 square feet to 858 square feet.

At the metro level, Seattle has the tiniest apartments, with an average size of 711 square feet. Rents are generally upwards of $2,000 per month.

Manhattan and Chicago, IL have the second smallest rentals, 733 square feet. According to RentCafe, average rents in Manhattan exceed $4,000 per month while Chicago apartments typically go for around $1,800 per month.

On the other end of the spectrum, Tallahassee, FL offers the most spacious rentals, boasting an average of 1,038 square feet of living space and an average rental price of $1,177 per month.

The Atlanta, Georgia metro area took 4 of the top 10 spots for cities with the largest rental apartments in the nation, while apartments in Detroit have suffered the biggest cuts in size in the last ten years.

The average size of a new apartment in Motor City in 2018 is 27 percent smaller than ten years ago — 720 square feet today compared to 988 square feet a decade ago.

On the other hand, rentals in Lubbock, TX have seen the largest increase in space over the last decade, up 19 percent — new units average as much as 1,326 square feet.

The tiniest studio apartments in the country are in Reno, NV — offering a mere 349 square feet of living space, on average. The units are so tiny that they would, in fact, be classified as “micro-apartments” in other parts of the country.

Atlanta boasts the largest one- and two-bedroom units, at 786 square feet and 1,124 square feet, respectively.

On the go lifestyles in Millennial renters could at least be partially to blame for the recent downsizing.

“Changes in renters’ living habits are literally redrawing floor plans. The largest share of apartment dwellers, millennials prefer living in locations close to restaurants and entertainment rather than having a large kitchen or living room to cook or entertain at home,” reads the report.

But the growing interest in smaller living spaces is motivated as much by price as by lifestyle changes. The need to cut down on escalating housing costs sparked demand from renters for smaller units. Generally, smaller units have lower asking rents than larger units — especially in new construction housing developments.

Unfortunately, today’s renters are paying more for less — average rents in newly-built apartments have increased by 28 percent while unit size has gotten 5 percent smaller over the last ten years.

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