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New Apartments Get Larger, After Years of Shrinking

June 9, 2021

Apartments have shrunk in size over the past decade. But that is changing. Renters during the pandemic craved more space, and the multifamily sector is responding by expanding the square footage by making units about “one small home office larger,” according to a new study.

Thirty-six percent of 92 cities tracked are currently building larger apartments than over the last five years, according to Yardi Matrix data. Most of these multifamily projects are upsizing two-bedroom apartments and adding in a home office, particularly as remote work increases.

New apartments are increasing by nearly 50 square feet, on average. Three-bedroom apartments are getting, on average, about 105 square feet larger.

Apartment sizes

“The pandemic and work-from-home have made people more conscious of the space in which they live and work,” says Doug Ressler, manager of business intelligence at Yardi Matrix. “The pandemic has significantly accelerated issues on designers’ minds well before 2020. These issues involve the rise of the home as a workspace and a deeper emphasis on health and well-being.”

Developers also are targeting “digital nomads,” those with high incomes who are renting with mobility and lifestyle considerations in mind. “The number of people who earn over $100,000 a year is significantly higher than it was two or three years ago,” Daryl Spradley, senior vice president of Charles Wayne Consulting Inc., told the RENTCafe blog. “Those are renters, but obviously renters by choice because they can go out and buy a house.”

The cities where the largest apartments are being built are Everett, Wash.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Athens, Ga., a college town 70 miles from Atlanta. Many smaller cities are building some of the largest apartments. It’s a “residential recalibration” from urban areas to more suburban locales, where residents often can find larger accommodations and have more access to community amenities and outdoor spaces, Craig Jones, president of MBX Rental Living, told RENTCafe.

Cities with larger apartments