How To Determine What Size Apartment You Need

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Updated February 10, 2020
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When you set out on the venture that is finding the right apartment, you want to make sure you pick one that’s the right size for you or your family. As a single person, you may think you’re okay with a small studio because you really don’t need that much space for just yourself. But what if you like to entertain and have guests over? Did you consider them being on your bed, in your personal space? What if they want to spend the night? That 1 bedroom with separate living and sleeping areas might sound pretty nice, then, huh?

There is a lot more to consider than price and what fits your belongings. Functionality is a major factor as well when it comes to determining what size apartment you need. So let’s help you figure this out.

The most common apartment sizes you’ll find in the city are studios, 1 bedroom, and 2 bedrooms. You may have some 1 bedroom + den, and the occasional 3 bedroom is a duplex or smaller complex, but for the most part, we’ll see 0-2 bedrooms. When we look at these in terms of square footage, they grow exponentially with more rooms added. Studios could be as small as 300 square feet to 1,000, depending on the location. Rent Cafe put together this helpful chart of average apartment sizes in the U.S., with everything but 2 bedrooms showing a downtick in size based on when the apartment was built.

 

avg-size-us-apartments

 

These sizes can be kind of hard to visualize without seeing. That’s where apartment showings come in super helpful, but even then, if the apartment is empty, it can be hard to judge how a layout would look with your furniture. The empty apartment can seem even bigger than the square footage says. Luckily, some apartment companies, like Bigos, offer decor planner software that allows you to pre-design using average furniture sizes to make sure your stuff will actually fit.

 

decor-planner-tool

 

These tools help you determine the obvious — if your belongings will physically fit inside an apartment that size, but what about what you need for personal space and functionality? That can be a little more tricky and really depends on what you need the space for.

Making Sure Your Furniture Will Fit

Sometimes it can be tough to see how furniture will look in a new apartment, especially if it’s empty when you view it. The home decor planner we shared above is definitely one way to get an idea of how you could rearrange your things in a new place. But, if you want to play interior decorator and determine exactly the way to configure it with your belongings, all you need is some graph paper, a pencil, and a tape measure.

First, you’ll want to measure the length, height, and width of all of your furniture. Include at least the main furniture like a couch, tables, tv stand, and then plants and lamps can be added last. You will then want to make your scale, which more often than not, each square on the graph paper can be 1 square foot to make it easy.

Start by drawing out each room’s shape, with their exact dimensions, and include any windows or doors if you were able to figure that out at your apartment viewing. You can then draw in, with a pencil to change it easily, your furniture pieces, and decor how you wish to organize it. Each square will be one foot, so if your couch is 3 x 7 feet, you will draw our line around a 7 x 3 square wide area on your graph paper.

What to Consider When Weighing Your Options

How many square feet are needed, based on how much stuff I have? Many studio apartments may not have room for a couch and a bed? Are you willing to downsize your belongings or have a convertible bed like a futon or lofted bed to make more space? If your apartment building includes storage space, this may make your life easier, but knowing what can or cannot fit physically, is a significant factor in deciding between a studio and a 1 bedroom, for instance.

How many people will live here now and in the future? Are you a person who will be living alone for a long while? Are you in a relationship and foresee moving in together in the future? For families, are you planning on having children in the near future? These may be questions to consider early on in the rental process. If you foresee an extra person living with you in the coming months, it may be worthwhile to invest in the bigger unit right away? When you look at the costs associated with moving, furnishing, and application fees or deposits, it might make more sense to invest in the larger unit now rather than later.

Will I be renting long term, or buying a house in the future? If you are looking to buy a house in the coming months or years, it may be wise to downsize and save some money for that investment down the road. Moving costs money, and even if you are planning to move into another rental unit or house down the line, it can be wise to save money now to prepare for that change.

With that being said, let’s go over some basics that each sized apartment can cover.

Studio Apartment

A studio apartment is anywhere from 350-600 square feet, let’s say. Generally, the living space is set to accommodate a bed, some small living room furniture, and a tv or entertainment center of sorts. There will also be a bathroom, kitchen area, and, if you’re lucky, a big walk-in closet and separate dining area to make things less cramped. But overall, your living space and bedroom become one, and you’ll need to be intentional with the apartment design. This is great for individuals who want to live modestly or consider themselves minimalists, don’t mind the open space layout and don’t plan to share the space with anyone. Although, a studio apartment would be pretty tight for any couple looking to cohabitate. We wouldn’t recommend it for couples, and most apartments probably forbid that based on the number of people vs. the size of the unit.

1 Bedroom Apartment

1 bedroom apartments between 550 and 1,000 square feet would be perfect for a single person who wants to keep their living space separate from their bedroom. A lot of people like to keep the bedroom a place for sleeping and recuperating, and not meshing it with where they entertain, watch TV, etc. Depending on the size of the 1 bedroom, it can be absolutely perfect for a couple cohabitating. It’s a decent space for those who live modestly and don’t need a lot of extra space for belongings. Some couples, however, like to have that extra bedroom for an office, activities, separate hobbies, a guest room, or even a growing family. And that brings us to 2 bedrooms.

2 Bedroom Apartment

With 2 bedroom apartments being closer to 1,000 square feet and up, there’s far more wiggle room for couples, roommates, and those with children or family members living with them. It could also work really well for someone who frequently hosts guests or runs a business from home. The second bedroom can work perfectly for an extra office space. The options are much broader for a 2 bedroom. For a single person willing to pay that extra money for more space, more flexibility with decor, and with more potential to having roommates or guests, a 2 bedroom is a no-brainer.

3 Bedroom Apartment

Though less common in your average apartment complex, three-bedroom apartments will be closer to 1,200 square feet and up. You may have more luck finding a three-bedroom unit in a townhome, duplex, or a four-plex type of situation. Three bedroom apartments are big enough for a family of four (or 3 roommates) to be able to live comfortably. And they will often have between 1.5 and 3 bathrooms—if the master bedroom has its own. Three bedroom apartments may also have much larger kitchens, dining areas, and even a second level or lofted bedroom for additional space.

Don’t Get More Than You Need

When you are choosing an apartment, one of the major factors you consider is what will fit in your budget. And part of determining your budget is figuring out how many people will be in your apartment and how much apartment you need/can afford. Studios are going to best fit for single individuals or couples who don’t mind having the small shared space. The next level up would a 1-bedroom for singles or couples, and these will obviously raise your budget, but what you get out of the deal is a separate living space and bedroom, which can make the increased price worth it.

A single person may want to upgrade to a 2-bedroom even if they want extra space for an office or guest room. If that price is in the budget, it could work, but it can also be a cost that is unnecessary. There are ways to utilize a one-bedroom for other functions like an in-home office (we have some awesome ideas here), as well as flipping your living room into a guest-friendly suite. Always consider the frequency of needing that extra space. If you have a few big parties a year, maybe that expense for having a larger 2-bedroom apartment is less important, and that excess budget can go towards renting the party room in the building and throwing an even bigger bash.

If you are looking to have roommates, ensure that everyone will be able to split the rent equally and make payments. One of the worst things that can happen when you move in with friends or roommates is finding one of them cannot pay their share, and the other roommates cannot afford to cover the rent. So even if you find the perfect, huge, three-bedroom apartment, make sure that you aren’t all overspending on your budget and that the rent split is an amount that makes sense for all of your incomes. Another workaround to that is changing how much each person pays based on how large or small their room is. For example, the person who wants the master bedroom and bath can pay 40% of the share, while the other two pay 30% each.

 

As you can see, there are many factors to consider when you are determining what size apartment you need. Bigos Management would love to help you find that perfect fit for you, your roommates, your family, or whoever you are looking to settle down with. Our floorplans are extensive and can handle anything you may need. Check out our available properties here.

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