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Homes in the U.S. Got Bigger Over the Past Decade, While Apartments Lost Space

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Homes in the U.S. Got Bigger Over the Past Decade, While Apartments Lost Space
4 min. read
Homes in the US Got Bigger Over the Past Decade, While Apartments Lost Space

Image: Shutter_M / Shutterstock.com

Americans are enjoying larger new single-family homes but, at the same time, new apartments are getting smaller, as shown by recent STORAGECafe research. The average size of a newly built single-family home in the U.S. in 2019 was 2,611 square feet, an impressive 143 square feet larger than those built in 2010. In other words, new homes gained an entire bedroom during the past 10 years. New apartments followed an opposite trend, shrinking by 90 square feet, from an average size of 1,245 square feet for those built in 2010 to 1,156 square feet in 2019.

Interestingly enough, in many houses, there’s now a room dedicated to each family member, and perhaps even a guest bedroom too. That’s due to household size going down to a low 2.52 people in 2019 and single-family homes continuing to expand — 3 and 4+ bedroom homes make up 89% of the new housing stock delivered in 2019.

As for bedroom distribution in multifamily apartments, it’s one-bedrooms that grew in popularity. One-bedroom apartments in new buildings increased from 35% in 2010 to 42% in 2019, while two-bedroom apartments lost ground, from making up 45% of newly built apartments in 2010 to 39% in 2019.

Chicago’s single-family homes see biggest size increases over the last decade

While things may vary in different places of the country depending on historical and geographical particularities, Chicago is one of the places that not only follow the national trend but also dictate the trend. Chicago is at the forefront of the “building big” movement, delivering the largest new single-family homes among the country’s top 20 biggest cities. New-builds in Chicago in 2019 had 3,300 square feet, making them 916 square feet larger than those built in 2010 when the average surface area of new homes in the city was 2,414 square feet. On the other hand, new apartments in Chicago are losing space. Units built in 2010 were 845 square feet, on average, while the ones constructed in 2019 were 793 square feet – 52 square feet smaller.

San Francisco registers the second-highest increase in the size of new single-family homes among the country’s largest cities, from an average of 2,650 square feet in 2010 to 3,200 square feet in 2019. Unlike Chicago, San Francisco apartments are also growing, from 660 square feet for those built in 2010 to a more generous 767 square feet for new apartments constructed last year.

Denver, Columbus and Washington, DC, are building the smallest single-family homes

The smallest single-family homes among the country’s top 20 cities are being built in Denver, Colorado. The average size of a newly built single-family home in Denver had 2,056 square feet in 2019, almost 200 square feet smaller than 2010 new builds. New apartments in the city also lost some space, shrinking by 43 square feet, from an average of 894 square feet in 2010 to 851 in 2019.

The average size of a single-family home built in Columbus, Ohio in 2019 was 2,105 square feet, 11 square feet smaller than those constructed in 2010, resulting in the second-smallest new homes among the country’s top 20 cities. However, new apartments in the city gained 43 square feet over the past decade, reaching a comfortable average size of 909 square feet in 2019.

The country’s capital city takes third place from the bottom when it comes to the size of both new single-family homes and new apartments. Houses built in Washington, DC, in 2019 were 2,190 square feet, on average, but on an ascending trend, having gained 336 square feet from 2010. Apartments constructed in 2019 in Washington, DC, were 737 square feet, on average, almost 90 square feet smaller than those built in 2010.

Jacksonville enjoys the largest apartments, even after a 93-square-foot decrease in average size

Residents of Jacksonville who are keen on space are pretty lucky as new apartments built here are the most spacious among the country’s top 20 cities, despite a 93-square-foot decrease in average size over the past decade. New apartments constructed in 2019 were 987 square feet, on average, down from 1,080 square feet in 2010.

Texan cities Houston and Fort Worth are on a similar trajectory, having the second- and third-largest new apartments among the country’s top 20 cities, even after some losses in average size over the past decade. An apartment built in Houston in 2019 covered an average of 937 square feet, losing 59 square feet from 2010. The average size of a new apartment in Fort Worth was 921 square feet in 2019, 42 square feet less than one built in 2010.

Residents of Seattle, NYC must settle for little space in their apartments

The smallest apartments among the country’s top 20 cities are being built in Seattle. The average apartment constructed here in 2019 was only 676 square feet, about 86 square feet smaller than one built in 2010. New York City residents also have to deal with meager living space. Apartments built in NYC in 2019 were, on average, 726 square feet, losing about 17 square feet from 2010.

Living in small apartments often means that people need to look elsewhere for space, and this is one of the reasons behind the growth of the self storage sector. The self storage industry now counts over 1.4 billion square feet of self storage inventory nationwide, with New York City the champion of new self storage deliveries in 2019 with a whopping 3 million square feet.

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