Bad news for renters: Apartments are shrinking and getting more expensive

Feel like your apartment’s walls are creeping in on you? You may not be imagining it.

Since 2008, the average size of a newly-built rental apartment has shrunk by 52 square feet, or 5%, to 941 square feet, a new report from real-estate website RentCafe and data-analytics firm Yardi Matrix concluded.

New studios and one-bedroom units have shrunk in size even more in that time span, by 10.3% and 4.2% respectively, while two-bedroom apartments are slightly larger on average.

At the same time, new apartments have become much more expensive to rent — the average price has risen 28% over the last 10 years to $1,944.

Changes in the size and cost of apartments vary substantially depending on where a renter lives.

Detroit has witnessed the most pronounced decrease in the average size of an apartment among the 100 largest rental markets nationwide, with a 27% reduction since 2008.

Denver had the most notable uptick in prices with an 84% increase in the cost of rent during that same period.




Read more: Why it makes more sense to rent than buy

Two factors are driving the changes in apartment size: Living habits and affordability.

“Millennials prefer living in locations close to restaurants and entertainment rather than having a large kitchen or living room to cook or entertain at home,” RentCafe noted.

However, the report suggested that theory might merely be the excuse given by developers for building smaller units.

“The rising interest in smaller living spaces is equally motivated by price, as the need to save on rent sparks demand for smaller units,” it added.




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Jacob Passy is a personal-finance reporter for MarketWatch and is based in New York.

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