Living small? You’d better get used to it

Average size of new development units in NYC was 855 sf over last six years

Micro Units NYC
Rendering of Micro unit in Long Island City (credit: Homely)

For many New Yorkers, getting by in a tiny apartment is almost a point of pride. Brokers have mastered the art of describing apartments as “cozy” and “efficient.” And as new data suggests, this trend isn’t going away anytime soon.

The average size of apartments in nearly all U.S. markets has fallen, according to new data from real estate consultants RCLCO cited by Bloomberg. In pricey residential markets such as New York and San Francisco, the average apartment size between 2010 and 2016 was 855 square feet. That’s a decline of 4.4 percent from 894 square feet between 2000 and 2009.

The decline is partly because more one-bedrooms and studios are hitting the market to meet demand from millennials, who tend to marry later and delay their search for larger spaces. With more small places on the market, the average size of apartments drops. Studios and one-bedrooms made up nearly two thirds of the units in cities between 2010 and 2016, according to RCLCO. At the start of the millennium, those type of units accounted for just half of the market.

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But that’s not the only reason. The floor plans themselves are also shrinking in most markets. Studios and one-bedrooms under 600 square feet now make up 15 percent of the market in most cities – double what it was between 2000 and 2009. Studios and one-bedrooms under 600 feet in San Francisco and New York have 29 percent of the market, up from 22 percent in the previous period. The de Blasio administration is also looking to expand the availability of so-called micro apartments, normally defined as units under 300 square feet.  [Bloomberg]Miriam Hall