- The average size of a newly built apartment fell 30 square feet from 2021 to 2022, down to 887 square feet— the largest year over year drop on record, according to a study from RentCafe. Overall, new multifamily units were 54 square feet smaller in 2022 than they were 10 years earlier.
- Tallahassee, Florida, has the largest new apartments in the country at 1,182 square feet, while Seattle has the smallest at 659 square feet. Tucson, Arizona, saw the biggest apartment size increase over the last 10 years, up 300 square feet since 2013, while Silver Spring, Maryland, had the largest decrease, down 114 square feet.
- The average new apartment size rose by 7 square feet between 2019 and 2021. This reflects the shift in living preferences associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to report author Adina Dragos, including a demand for more living space and floor plans with home offices.
The average size of a new U.S. apartment has oscillated over the last 10 years, but has generally trended downward. Last year’s large drop is an exception — generally, the average apartment size has shifted by less than 10 square feet from year to year.
2022 was one of the most active years for new apartment construction in a half-century, according to Yardi Matrix data. An estimated 420,000 new units came online last year, 57% of which were either studio or one-bedroom apartment units — up from 53% in 2013.
RentCafe attributes this rise in smaller unit construction to an ongoing need for more housing across the country. In research released last August, the National Apartment Association and National Multifamily Housing Council determined that the U.S. is operating at a deficit of 600,000 apartment homes, and needs 4.3 million more by 2035 in order to solve issues related to supply, demand and affordability.
That said, while a larger share of smaller apartments is a contributor to the shrinking average unit size, 2022’s studios and one-bedrooms are still 12 and 13 square feet smaller, on average, than their counterparts built the previous year.
A rise in size
Tallahassee not only has the largest average unit size out of the 100 largest apartment markets, but also saw the second-largest increase last year, up 191 square feet. RentCafe also estimates that the apartments in Tallahassee’s construction pipeline measure 1,408 square feet on average, 226 square feet larger than the current Tallahassee average.
One of the contributing factors to Tallahasssee’s larger average apartment size is the market’s relative lack of studio apartments. Out of 189 rental properties within the city limits on RentCafe’s listing service, only four offer studios.
Supply growth in Tallahassee is also on the slow side. New deliveries only made up 0.8% of the city’s stock last year. However, the population is on the rise, up from over 181,000 in 2010 to approximately 196,000 in 2022, an increase of 9%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
This combination of low supply and soaring demand has raised the stakes for apartment competition in the state capitol. While Tallahassee was only the eighth most competitive multifamily market in Florida in 2022, it was the only one that grew hotter between the start of the year and peak rental season in the summer