Why Are Studio Apartments So Expensive? (Find Out Now!)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart
via Shutterstock

When I first set out into the world as an adult, I wanted to get a studio apartment. Boy, was I shocked at how expensive they are. One-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom apartments are often just a couple hundred dollars more expensive than studios. Did you ever wonder why studio apartments tend to be so much more expensive per square foot?

Studio apartments are often expensive because they are considered to be the “bare minimum” to live in an area. Most people assume that studios are going to be the cheapest option on the market. In some cities, it actually is cheaper to get a one-bedroom due to the increased demand for studios.

The real estate market is getting really weird right now, and it’s a good idea to understand what is going on before you go shopping.

Are Studio Apartments Always Cheaper Than One-Bedroom Apartments?

This used to be the rule. However, there are now many cities and neighborhoods where studios tend to be more expensive than one-bedroom apartments. Long Beach (California), Nashville, and Columbus (Ohio) all are cities that tend to have this trend going on. So, if you are looking for a bargain, check out both studio and single bedroom prices.

Why Are Studio Apartments So Expensive?

In America, apartment prices are not always scalable by the amount of square footage. This is one of the biggest differences between apartments and condos. There are several prevailing attitudes that explain why a studio apartment tends to be the most expensive by square foot:

  • Many landlords view the use of studio apartments as a need for more appliances, more repairs, and more liability insurance. It’s true. With every individual apartment they own comes more repairs and maintenance costs. More studios (rather than a conversion into a three-bedroomer) tends to mean more costs. So, building owners tend to want to recoup it.
  • In many parts of the country, studio apartments are more likely to be found in areas famous for high demand. You will end up paying extra if you want to be near the center of a city, especially if you want an area as popular as Midtown Manhattan. Meanwhile, if you want an apartment in Brooklyn, there will be fewer studios. More people can generally afford it.
  • Some landlords also use studios as the “basic price of entry.” This tends to be truer in luxury communities. Some landlords want a certain class of people. A studio that is high priced bars people from lower-income brackets from living in the same area.
  • Finally, there is also the logic that states that you could always just get roommates. This is, at the very least, one of the more common ways that landlords end up justifying their high prices.

How Big Is A Typical Studio Apartment?

Studio apartments can vary greatly in size, but they tend to be pretty small. Most of them around 500 to 600 square feet in size. Some, called “micro-apartments” tend to be a little smaller, at around 300 to 400 square feet. These are generally only seen in areas like San Francisco.

To give you a better idea of what this means in terms of sizing, the next largest apartment size is a one-bedroom. This size tends to be between 700 to 800 square feet.

What Factors Would Make A Studio Apartment More Expensive Than A One-Bedroom?

There are several reasons why a studio might be more expensive than a unit that has a real bedroom or more than one room. These issues below tend to cause the biggest deviations in price inside a single building:

  • The studio might have been in higher demand than one-bedroom apartments. Not everyone wants extra space! Studio apartments that are commonly used for pied-a-terres by the rich rarely need to be big. They just need to be a place to rest your head.
  • The studio might have brand new upgrades that other units don’t. This is often the case that happens when a building is quickly going through renovations and some of the units won’t be fully finished.
  • Sometimes, landlords just take advantage of the fact that people assume studios will be the cheapest units. It’s kind of scummy, but it’s true. A lot of landlords don’t want “cheap” renters, so they’ll offer the one-bedroom at their standard rates. To make sure they avoid renters on a shoestring budget, they beef up the price tags on studios so they’re more expensive than the one-bedroom ones.
  • In some rare cases, the studios might also be affordable for people in certain programs. Some areas will price studios prohibitively high for people who can afford more. The prices are offered on a sliding scale, so it might actually be way cheaper if you are a student or someone who is very low-income.

Are Studio Apartments Worth It?

Honestly, it is hard to fully flesh this out. Every studio apartment will have its own persk and pitfalls. For people who want quick access to the heart of a city or who cannot stand having another roommate ever again, a studio apartment makes a lot of sense.

However, if you are looking for the cheapest way to move into a different place, a studio might not be a smart move. Living with roommates, while it’s not ideal, tends to be the most affordable way to thrive in an area where the cost of living is high.

Can You Have Roommates In A Studio Apartment?

Legally speaking, you can have one roommate if you live in a studio apartment. This is why many couples on a shoestring budget will live in these units. However, it’s not going to be easy. Speaking as someone who’s done this (and then some), it gets very cramped, very fast.

How Much Should You Spend On Utilities In A Studio Apartment?

Studio apartments have a major advantage when it comes to utility prices. Since they are the smallest apartments by square footage, it takes a lot less to power a studio than it would a one bedroom. In most parts of the country, you will need to pay $125 to $300 for all your utilities combined.

How much you expect to pay for utilities depends on which ones you are required to pay, as well as your consumption habits. Investing in energy-efficient appliances can help.

Where Are One-Bedroom Apartments Far More Expensive Than Studios?

Most of the country has one-bedroom apartments that are rented out at a higher price than studios. Pricey studios are more of the exception to the rule than the rule itself. If you want to see where one-bedroom apartments are a real steal, then take a look at this short list below:

  • New York City. The price of a 1BR is 33 percent higher than the price of a studio, on average.
  • Jacksonville. The price of a single bedroom is 50 percent more than the price of studio here.
  • St. Louis. The price of a 1BR is a whopping 48 percent higher here, too.
  • Las Vegas. You might not want to try your luck with a single bed here. It’s over 44 percent more expensive than a regular studio.
  • Washington DC. The nation’s capital is notorious for being high priced. Here, you’ll need to pay around 35 percent more than the price of a studio to rent a single bedroom.

Related Questions

What’s the difference between a studio apartment and a one-bedroom apartment?

A studio apartment is generally far smaller, and its true defining feature is that it is usually only two rooms. You get a bathroom, as well as a single room that acts as a kitchen, a bedroom, and a living room all rolled into one. A one-bedroom gives you a kitchen, a bedroom, a bathroom, and a small living space.One-bedroom apartments tend to be larger and more expensive than studios. And who could blame them for being that way? They’re bigger and offer a lot more privacy!

How many people can legally live in a studio apartment?

This depends on local laws as well as the apartment building’s policy on tenants. Most apartments will allow a maximum number of two occupants for a single studio. Technically, most people are allowed to have three, but it’s not considered to be a smart idea.Federally, there are no maximum occupancies outside of building codes. A good rule of thumb is that you can fit two people for a studio, then the maximum is two people per bedroom, plus one extra.

Is it cheaper to rent a studio or live with roommates?

Almost without fail, renting a studio is going to be far more expensive than living with roommates. While most people find the additional privacy to be quite nice, it’s important to remember that you will be footing all the bills when it comes to utilities.Living with roommates allows you to pool your resources together to create a better financial standing for everyone. It’s why it’s increasingly popular with people, and why there are new apps that help you facilitate it popping up everywhere.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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