Sunday, February 24th, 2019 February24th2019

Sell for More Trivia: How has the average apartment changed in 10 years?

Published on February 24th, 2019

Sell for More Trivia is a weekly blog series that playfully presents a trivia question about commercial real estate.


Renters all over the country are choosing smaller units with bigger rents, all in the name of proximity to bars, restaurants and fun.

The average size of an apartment built in 2018 in the U.S. was 941 SF — 5% smaller than an average apartment built a decade prior.

Meantime, average rents for new apartments increased 28% compared to 10 years ago.

It turns out that saving a few hundred dollars a month is very meaningful to a renter who would rather live in a smaller space in the heart of the city than face a lengthy daily commute.

That leads us to the growing trend of “micro-apartments”.  In larger metropolitan areas where prime real estate comes at a price, developers are redefining shoebox living with units that are often less than 400 SF.

Here are four ways they’re making this tiny living feel large:

Focus on versatile furnishings

For example, apartments are outfitted with space-saving furnishings such as a queen-size Murphy bed, versatile desks and a coffee table that expands into a dining table.

Units also often come with a two-burner induction cooktop, a combination microwave and convection oven and walk-in closet.

Get rid of the kitchen

The community kitchens are purposely designed to be near the elevators, allowing residents to see and participate in activity as they come and go. Comfortable seating will invite residents to linger. Game nights and movie nights will aim to foster community engagement.

People have been doing this for a long time…where they get roommates. The contrast with micro-apartments is that you don’t have to deal with a roommate. You get your own entire private space. You have your own private full bathroom and sleeping area and limited kitchenette, like a studio apartment.   Most people don’t even cook, anyway.

Create space for work, study and exercise

The community-oriented space is designed to function as an extension of each unit’s living room.

Residents engage in a higher level of socialization than you see in a typical apartment building — something that’s attributed to the extensive amenity offerings.

Lend out the (not-so-small) stuff

Landlords also offer a common goods library, which keeps residents from having to think about storage of larger essentials. The lending library offers vacuum cleaners, toolkits, bike pumps or other household tools. Renters who would like to host guests can borrow a 12-piece dinnerware set, folding table and chairs and even an ice-cream maker.

In summary, the design of micro-apartments encourages the interaction of neighbors, the sharing of goods and ideas, and the convergence of housing and life.  In cities with long commute times, I’m betting micro-apartments will win.


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About Beau Beach, CCIM

Beau is a tenacious Commercial Real Estate Broker, author and adoring father of four. His clients appreciate his no-nonsense demeanor and his legendary work ethic.

Beau leads Prowess IRES which is a commercial real estate broker for sellers in the Nashville, Milwaukee, South Florida and Chicago markets.

He’s the author of the books The 3 Reasons: Why Most Commercial Properties Don’t Sell and True Wealth: What Every Seller Should Know About 1031 Exchanges.

Beau can be reached at 414.324.4938, 615.603.9770, click to schedule a call or