Rising rents across the U.S. (and smaller apartments) challenge New Yorkers' bragging rights

By Nikki M. Mascali  | November 30, 2018 - 10:00AM

But are renters getting more space for those extra bucks? (Spoiler: No.)


As a New Yorker, you probably pride yourself on dealing with one of the toughest real estate markets in the world, where tiny apartments command the highest prices, but a new report may bruise your ego. In other words, the rental market is grim in many parts of the U.S.

An analysis from RentCafé found rental prices across the nation have increased by 28 percent over the past 10 years. If you're paying more in rent, do you get more space for the money, right? New Yorkers know the answer to this is, no, you certainly do not.

Over the same time period, U.S. floor plans decreased by 5 percent, and the average new apartment completed this year is 941 square feet, 52 square feet less than apartments built in 2008.

RentCafé says to pin that one on millennials. They account for the largest share of apartment dwellers, and want to live close to restaurants and entertainment instead of having spacious kitchens or living rooms to live large in.

Though studio apartments make up just 5 percent of the national rental market, they saw the biggest decline in size, dropping to 514 square feet this year from 573 a decade ago. One bedrooms make up the biggest share of inventory at 43 percent, and they got 4 percent smaller.

Newsflash: NYC apartments not smallest in the US

You've probably mastered some of the workarounds of living tiny in the big city—like the Murphy bed—but surprisingly, NYC apartments are not the smallest rentals in the U.S., according to RentCafé data.  

That honor (if you can call it that) goes to Seattle, where the average apartment size is 711 square feet. Manhattan and Chicago are tied for second with an average of 733 square feet.

The data does show a slight silver lining for New Yorkers. While NYC apartments may be the second-smallest in the nation, their size has actually increased by 12 percent over the past 10 years.


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