These Cities Have the Smallest & Largest Average Apartment Sizes in the U.S.

Seattle | Shutterstock
Seattle | Shutterstock

Anyone who's rented an apartment in a major city in the last 10 years knows what it feels like to pay out the nose for a tiny crash pad to call you own. It's even more defeating once you realize just how much you need to be earning to even entertain the possibility of owning a place in many of them. But where exactly are you likely to get the most space for your buck? It's all a bit clearer now thanks to a new deluge of data that reveals just how average apartment sizes differ in large cities from coast to coast.

Spoiler alert: the country's smallest apartments aren't in New York or San Francisco.

This enlightening new intel comes courtesy of the team at rental website RENTCafé, who consulted a whole bunch of data from real estate market research firm Yardi Matrix to figure out just how average apartment sizes compare across the country. Specifically, they looked at the top 100 cities with the largest stock of rentals in buildings of 50 units, and ranked them by average size.

Surprisingly, Seattle has the tiniest apartments in the entire country, where 711 square feet is the average. New York (Manhattan) and Chicago tied for second smallest (733 square feet), and Washington, DC came in third, where the average rental is 736 square feet. Meanwhile, Tallahassee, Florida is home to the most spacious places, followed by Marietta, Georgia, and Columbia, South Carolina. Here are the top 20 cities with smallest and largest apartments in the country.

Top 20 Cities with Largest Apartments

20. College Station, Texas (945 square feet)
19. Huntsville, Alabama (946 square feet)
18. Greenville, South Carolina (946 square feet)
17. Scottsdale, Arizona (946 square feet)
16. Charlotte, North Carolina (948 square feet) 
15. Orlando, Florida (949 square feet)
14. Baton Route, Louisiana (949 square feet)
13. Knoxville, Tennessee (956 square feet)
12. Jacksonville, Florida (959 square feet)
11. Raleigh, North Carolina (962 square feet)
10. Henderson, Nevada (970 square feet)
9. Virginia Beach, Virginia (973 square feet)
8. Atlanta, Georgia (987 square feet)
7. Gainesville, Florida (990 square feet)
6. Norcross, Georgia (991 square feet)
5. Birmingham, Alabama (992 square feet)
4. Decatur, Georgia (1,000 square feet)
3. Columbia, South Carolina (1,006 square feet)
2. Marietta, Georgia (1,025 square feet)
1. Tallahassee, Florida (1,038 square feet)

Top 20 Cities with Smallest Apartments

20. El Paso, Texas (812 square feet)
19. Toledo, Ohio (811 square feet)
18. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (811 square feet) 
17. Albuquerque, New Mexico (804 square feet)
16. Portland, Oregon (802 square feet)
15. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (801 square feet)
14. Mesa, Arizona (801 square feet)
13. Cleveland, Ohio (796 square feet)
12. Detroit, Michigan (791 square feet)
11. Wichita, Kansas (787 square feet)
10. Minneapolis, Minnesota (785 square feet)
9. Phoenix, Arizona (783 square feet)
8. Glendale, Arizona (781 square feet)
7. Los Angeles, California (771 square feet)
6. Tucson, Arizona (738 square feet)
5. San Francisco, California (737 square feet)
4. Washington, DC (736 square feet)
3. Chicago, Illinois (733 square feet)
2. Manhattan, New York (733 square feet)
1. Seattle, Washington (711 square feet)

Taking a step back, apartments across the board have gotten smaller in the last decade, according to the data. In fact, the average size of a new apartment in the US (completed in 2018) is 941 square feet, which is 52 square feet less than the average size of an apartment built 10 years ago. For context, the average size of a rental apartment regardless of the year it was built is 882 square feet.

They also looked at which cities saw the biggest decreases in size, and found that apartments in Detroit have seen the most dramatic downsizes, with a 27% average decrease in the last decade (Phoenix and Los Angeles saw the second and third biggest size decreases, respectively). And despite getting smaller across the board, the average price to rent an apartment in one of the 100 cities they looked at has increased a whopping 28%. 

So, uh, anyone else feeling more than ready to scope out the cities where you can actually afford to buy a house these days? 

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.