Residents Working from Home Require More Space in Apartments, Homes

Apartments have gotten smaller in the past 10 years while single-family homes have grown

The pandemic has meant our homes are required to double as entertainment and working spaces, with nearly half of the U.S. labor force working from home full-time, StorageCafe writes in a new report, but apartments have gotten smaller in the past 10 years.

Colorado, the top state for working from home pre-pandemic, barely had 7.7 percent of its population working from home then.

How prepared are American homes for this new reality, space-wise?

Apartments have gotten smaller as homes have gotten bigger

“On a national average level, apartments lost a bedroom over the last decade, while single family homes gained one,” Yardi Matrix says in the report.

“Single-family homes are generally large enough to respond to the growing need for space. Apartments, however, will make it harder for people to adjust, as space is at a premium in most cities.”

apartments have gotten smaller with fewer bedrooms

Some highlights from the report:

  • The McMansion comes in handy for a change as it’s now in line with people’s need for more space. New single-family homes built in 2019 have an average of 2,611 square feet, 18 percent bigger than the overall U.S. inventory.
  • Multi-bedroom homes grew considerably — 43 percent of the single family homes built in 2019 have 4+ bedrooms, compared to 35 percent in 2010. The percentage of newly built homes with two bedrooms or fewer decreased from 13 percent in 2010 to 11 percent in 2019.
  • Apartments, however, lag behind in responding to this need for more space at home. The average size of an apartment built in 2019 was 1,156 square feet, 90 square feet smaller than those built in 2010.
  • One-bedroom apartments saw an increase in new construction, from 35 percent in 2010 to 42 percent in 2019, while two-bedroom apartments lost ground, from 45 percent of newly built apartments having two bedrooms in 2010 to 39 percent in 2019.
  • Among the nation’s largest 20 cities, Chicago saw the highest increase in home sizes. New homes in Chicago are now 916 sq. ft. larger than those built in 2010, and offer a whopping 3,330 sq. ft. of living space on average.
  • San Francisco experienced the highest increase in new apartment size among the country’s largest 20 cities, adding a significant 107 square feet between 2010 and 2019.

 Size of single-family homes growing

Seattle is a good example of a city that saw a definite increase in single-family-home space from 2010 to 2019. Houses built in 2010 had 3,025 square feet, while new 2019 houses were 192 square feet larger, encompassing an average of 3,217 square feet.

At the same time, Seattle built smaller apartments in 2019 than in 2010. New apartments built in Seattle in 2010 had 762 square feet on average, and shrunk to a meager average 676 square feet in 2019.

apartments have gotten smaller in the past 10 years in Seattle while single-family homes have grown in size

Apartment residents need storage space

Living in smaller apartments doesn’t mean that Americans like to live small. Incomes rose over the last decade and so did consumer spending, which gave way to a need for more space – enter self-storage.

Yardi Matrix data shows that there’s currently over 1.4 billion square feet of self-storage space in the United States, out of which 190 million square feet – or 13 percent – were built over the last five years.

Residents of cities like Seattle, for example, where apartments are notoriously small (and continue to shrink), can really benefit from using self-storage. There are 4.5 square feet of storage space per capita in the city, and the monthly rent for a 10×10 self-storage unit is around $178.

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