Mar 16, 2023 - Real Estate

Boston's not-so-big apartments

Average size of new apartments
Data: RentCafe analysis of Yardi Matrix data; Note: Analysis includes U.S. metro areas (defined by Yardi Matrix market boundaries) with the most apartments located in multi-family buildings of 50 units or more; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Like most good things in Boston, the square footage in our apartments has been shrinking.

Why it matters: It's part of a national trend. Naturally, though, Boston’s average apartment size is smaller than most other cities.

By the numbers: The average size of newer apartments built between 2013 and 2022 in Boston was 773 feet, 13% smaller than the national average, per a new report from listing service RentCafe.

  • Don’t even bother trying to find a rental comparable to Miami (912 square feet), Denver (850 square feet) or Atlanta (900 square feet).

Yes, but: At least we’re not Seattle. Their average apartment size last year was 659 feet, 26% below the national average. They had the smallest average of the 100 U.S. metros analyzed in the report.

The big picture: Nationwide, newly built apartments shed 30 square feet on average compared to 2021, per the report.

  • That sharp decrease was fueled in part by more studios and one-bedroom apartments entering the market, researchers found.

Flashback: In 2020 and 2021, demand for more space resulted in larger unit configurations, RentCafe analyst Adina Dragos tells Axios.

  • "Fast forward to 2022, the demand for more apartments prompted developers to accommodate more units in their projects," Dragos says.

Case in point: 57% of apartments completed last year were small units across the U.S.

What we're watching: Apartments under construction. As the market keeps fluctuating post-pandemic, their size could signal whether the trend of smaller rentals will stick.

Steph’s thought bubble: The likelihood of apartment sizes growing is as slim as the T’s chances of surviving the rest of the year without breaking down at some point.


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