• The average size of a new single family home built in 2019 was 2,611 square feet, 143 more than in 2010. Apartments, on the other hand, averaged 1,156 square feet, 90 square feet smaller than those built in 2010.
  • Among the 20 biggest US cities, Chicago ranks first for largest homes, with new single family houses averaging 3,330 square feet in 2019 – approx. 916 more than the size of a home built in 2010. In Denver, however, homes are much less spacious than a decade ago at 2,056 – 197 square feet smaller than in 2010.
  • Jacksonville is building the biggest apartments in the US at 987 square feet, and Seattle the smallest, with new apartments averaging 676 square feet.

During these last few months, we spent more time inside our homes than probably at any other point in our lives, and the size of our residences became all-important. The COVID-19 pandemic will probably have a long-lasting impact on how Americans – and the whole world for that matter – live and work.

As far as home sizes go, we might be witnessing a revolution regarding how people utilize their houses and the new roles a home must fulfill – more than just living quarters, many of our homes have been converted into multifunctional spaces that can accommodate our work, recreational and educational needs, and more. The good thing is that newly built homes are offering more space, just enough to allow for comfortable living. Apartments, however, lag behind in responding to this need for more space at home.

As self storage enthusiasts, we’re always trying to understand the latest trends related to how people use their spaces. We decided to look into America’s housing supply and see how living space has evolved during the past decade. We researched and compared the sizes of new single family homes and apartments built from 2010 to 2019 throughout the United States, at national, regional and city levels.

Where do Americans enjoy the most spacious new homes and which areas are currently increasing available living space? As it turns out, those who want big, new single family homes have the most opportunity in Chicago, while Jacksonville is the best bet for those who seek sizable apartments.

Average home size in the US: Apartments lose a bedroom over a decade, while single family homes gain one

Newer single family homes 18% bigger than overall inventory

According to the latest available US Census data, the average size of single family homes built in the US was trending upwards from 2010 until 2017, when sizes hit a peak of 2,643 square feet. Since then, single family homes began decreasing in size, with homes built in 2019 averaging 2,611 square feet.

However, when looking at the entire period from 2010 to 2019, new single family homes still gained an impressive 143 square feet. That’s about the size of an average bedroom.

It looks like the US is bound to remain the land of McMansions. With the average home size standing at around 2,128 square feet (US Census), American homes are among the biggest in the world, vying with Australia for the top position. Compared to European countries, US homes are much more spacious, and even twice as big as houses in Greece or Germany.

Apartments are following an opposite trend, decreasing by almost 90 square feet over the last decade, from an average size of 1,245 square feet in 2010 to 1,156 in 2019. In other words, newer apartments were built with less space – and that loss is equal to a small bedroom or a kitchen.

Nearly half of the single family homes built in 2019 have 4+ bedrooms

If there’s an area in which we certainly shine, it’s living space distribution. There’s now a room in the house dedicated to each family member, and perhaps even a guest bedroom too. Household size has gone down to a low 2.52 people in 2019 while single family homes continue expanding, with 3+ bedroom homes making up 89% of the new housing stock delivered in 2019.

Single family homes with multiple bedrooms have now become the norm – 43% of all houses built in 2019 had 4 bedrooms or more, compared to 35% in 2010. At the same time, the percentage of newly built homes with two bedrooms or fewer decreased from 13% in 2010 to 11% in 2019. Three-bedroom houses remain the most popular type of single family home, although their popularity fell from 52% in 2010 to 46% in 2019.

The proportion of one-bedroom apartments in new buildings increased from 35% in 2010 to 42% in 2019

The proportion of one-bedroom apartments built each year grew from 35% in 2010 to 42% in 2019. Two-bedroom apartments, on the other hand, became less popular. In 2010, 45% of newly built apartments had two bedrooms, but by 2019 that number had decreased to 39%. Only 11% of the apartments built in 2019 had three or more bedrooms, compared to 13% in 2010.

More than 900,000 single family homes were built in 2019, the peak of the last decade

Not only the size of new single family homes increased from 2010 to 2019, but also the volume of new construction. According to the US Census, in 2010, a little under 500,000 single family homes were built throughout the country. Ten years later, the US saw no fewer than 903,000 single family homes built in one year. In fact, 2019 was the year with the most new single family home additions in the last 10 years.

The apartment market also saw an uptick in new construction over the last decade, with the last five years seeing annual deliveries surpassing 300,000 units. In 2019, no less than 353,000 apartments were delivered, up 2.3% from 2018. Multifamily completions peaked in 2017 when 357,000 new units were delivered.

Home sizes in the 20 biggest US cities

Location matters when it comes to average home size. Some urban hotspots follow the national trend, while others move in the opposite direction. Here’s how single family home and apartment sizes look in the country’s top 20 largest cities, based on Yardi Matrix, Property Shark and Point2Homes data.

The average Chicago single family home grew 916 square feet between 2010 and 2019

Chicago experienced a huge jump from 2010 to 2019 in the average size of new homes. In 2010, it was almost 2,414 square feet, whereas a house built in 2019 had an average size of 3,330 square feet. This jump adds a substantial 916 square feet of space to Chicagoans’ living quarters.

The main reasons for this boost are builders maximizing plot sizes, plus buyers being interested in larger homes. Jason Rowland, a real estate broker with Compass Real Estate, explained in an interview for our sister division, RENTCafé:

Builders are notorious for maximizing their square footage for resale, so whatever number they can achieve through zoning rights, they will satisfy,” said Rowland. “Also, most single family home buyers use that 3,000 to 3,500 square footage as the baseline in their search.” He added that, “depending on lot size and zoning, you can add extra square footage to the floorplan, which can put you into the 4,000 to 5,000 range.

Apartment dwellers in Chicago are less privileged with space, as the average size of a new unit in the city decreased by 52 square feet–from 845 square feet in 2010 to 793 square feet in 2019.

San Francisco’s new single family homes gain 550 square feet, while apartments grew by 107 square feet from 2010 to 2019

San Francisco is growing on both fronts – apartments and single family homes. The city has the second steepest increase in the size of new homes from 2010 to 2019.  The average square footage in 2010 was 2,650 square feet, while 2019 construction bumped that up to 3,200, a net gain of 550 square feet.

Unlike most of the other large metros in the country, San Francisco is also building larger apartments. The city added a significant 107 square feet between 2010 and 2019, representing the highest increase in new apartments size among the country’s largest 20 cities. New SF apartments in 2010 had an average surface of 660 square feet, and that increased to 767 square feet by 2019.

San Diego abodes shrinking, with single family homes losing 259 square feet between 2010 and 2019, the most among the country’s 20 largest metros

The size of San Diego’s new single family homes and apartments followed a downward trend between 2010 and 2019. Single family homes lost 259 square feet during this period, representing the sharpest decrease in the size of newly built homes among the 20 largest cities in America. New apartments are also getting smaller in San Diego, losing 73 square feet from 2010 to 2019.

Its Californian counterpart, San Jose, registers an opposite trend, with both new single family homes and apartments gaining square footage. Single family homes added a consistent 325 square feet between 2010 and 2019, while apartments got a more modest boost of 28 square feet.

Los Angeles follows the national trend, building larger homes and smaller apartments

New single family homes in Los Angeles increased in size by 196 square feet from 2010 to 2019, reaching an average size of 3,296 square feet last year. At the same time, apartments got smaller, mirroring the national trend. Newly built Los Angeles apartments lost 41 square feet from 2010 to 2019 – the size of a decent closet – reaching a current average of 808 square feet.

New Yorkers lose living space in both multifamily and single family homes

New York City saw decreases in the size of both single family homes and apartments. The average rental apartment built in New York in 2010 had 743 square feet, and by 2019 that dropped to 729, trimming off 17 square feet of space.

New single family homes in New York, primarily built in the outer boroughs, followed a similar trajectory, shrinking by 49 square feet, from an average size of 2,467 square feet in 2010 to 2,418 in 2019.

Denver is another city where the average sizes of both single-family homes and apartments decreased between 2010 and 2019. Homes lost 197 square feet, reaching an average size of 2,056 square feet, the lowest surface among the top 20 metros, while apartments shrunk 43 square feet during the same period.

Not everything is bigger in Texas: new apartments across the state’s cities got smaller, with Dallas losing 80 square feet between 2010 and 2019

Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin and Fort Worth all saw decreases in the average size of newly built apartments from 2010 to 2019.


Apartments in Dallas lost the most space out of the four Texan cities. New apartments built in 2010 were 988 square feet on average, while those build last year were 80 square feet smaller. San Antonio lost 76 square feet in the size of newly built apartments, and then landing at an average of 894 square feet in 2019.

Houston also decreased the size of new apartments by 59 square feet, eventually averaging 937 square feet in 2019. The size of new apartments in Austin and San Antonio is on a downward trend too, losing 54 and 43 square feet respectively between 2010 and 2019.

  • New single family homes in Austin lost 125 square feet from 2010 to 2019

The situation in Austin is different for single family homes. Austin is the only Texan city where the size of new homes followed a descending trend between 2010 and 2019, losing 125 square feet and registering an average surface of 2,512 square feet last year.

Dallas and Houston went hand in hand, increasing the average size of new single family homes by 172 respectively 170 square feet between 2010 and 2019. New homes in Dallas reached an impressive average size of 3,108 square feet in 2019, while Houston homes averaged 2,593 square feet.

Philadelphia, Seattle, and Washington, DC all pack extra room in single family homes

Between 2010 and 2019, Philadelphia saw a 313 square feet increase for new single family homes. New homes built in 2010 had, on average, 2,003 square feet, and that jumped to 2,316 in 2019.

Seattle is another 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 193 square feet larger, encompassing an average of 3,217 square feet.

At the same time, both cities built smaller apartments in 2019 than in 2010. Philadelphia apartments lost 76 square feet, for a 2019 average surface area of 815 square feet. New apartments built in Seattle in 2010 had 762 square feet on average, and shrunk to a meager average 676 square feet in 2019.

The country’s capital follows a similar trajectory. Homes built in Washington, DC in 2019 were 2,190 square feet on average – 336 square feet larger than the ones constructed in 2010. Apartments, on the other hand, lost 88 square feet during the same period, reaching an average 737 square feet in 2019.

Charlotte and Jacksonville lost the most space in apartments

When we’re talking about losing space, Charlotte and Jacksonville come in first among the country’s largest 20 cities. Although boasting the most square footage for new apartments in 2019, 987 square feet, Jacksonville’s actually lost 93 square feet in the last decade. Charlotte also lost 96 square feet, arriving at an average of 915 square feet for new apartments built in 2019.

The good news is that both cities expanded single family house sizes. Jacksonville houses built in 2019 added 238 square feet, compared to the 2,550 average in 2010. Charlotte registered a smaller increase of 168 square feet, from 2010’s average of 2,534 square feet for single family homes to 2,702 in 2019.

How US regions compare in new housing inventory sizes

The average size of single family homes and apartments built between 2010 and 2019 varies at a regional level. From large single family homes in the Northeast to modest apartments in the Western United States, here’s how each region fares for sizing in their new housing inventory.

Dreaming of living big? Head Northeast for the most sizable houses and Midwest for the largest apartments

The Northeast wins Nationals for building the largest new houses, with an average square footage of 2,779 in 2019 – an increase of 175 square feet compared to 2010. The Midwest enjoys the largest new apartments, with an average surface of 1,203 square feet in 2019.

New apartments built in the West are the smallest ones nationally, with their average size dropping by 145 square feet in the past 10 years. In 2010, new apartments in the West were 1,220 square feet, and by 2019 averaged just 1,075.

With More Spending Power and Living Space at a Premium, Self Storage Has Been Booming

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 US, out of which 190 million square feet – or 13% – were built over the last five years.

The self storage industry could also be growing to make up those precious 90 square feet lost in the average size for all US apartments in the last decade. The surging popularity of efficiency apartments in large urban centers is creating even more need for space. Self storage units provide a good value for people living in cities with an inventory of small apartments and high housing costs.

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.

Other large urban areas, like New York City and Los Angeles, have less storage space per capita – only two square feet – which leads to higher monthly street rates. A 10×10 unit costs $225 per month in NYC and $237 in LA. The least expensive cities for self storage are Chicago, with $68 per month, Columbus, Ohio, with $69 per month, and Indianapolis, with $81 per month.

We ranked the top US cities from best and worst according to household size, the average size of single family and multifamily homes, as well as self storage square feet per capita. The line up below reflects the combined score for these factors as an indicator of each city’s ability to respond to the residents’ needs for storage space.

 

Residents of Austin, Jacksonville and Charlotte are the luckiest when it comes to storage space around the house and in self storage facilities, while people living in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York City are more pressed for space.

What the Experts Say

Besides analyzing the data, we considered it would be helpful to ask reputable experts in the housing field about the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemics will re-shape the future of housing in the US. Here are their answers:

Rose Quint, Assistant Vice President for Survey Research, Eye on Housing – National Association of Home Builders

How will the COVID-19 pandemic shape the future of housing in America in terms of house sizes?

We are currently collecting data to better answer this question, but from early signs, it looks like demand is growing for homes in the suburbs, exurbs, and markets with lower densities. This geographic shift implies growth in the average home size. The fact that children and parents may have to share space for work and school at home suggests Americans will probably want more space.

Read more....

What main changes do you expect will occur in the way people live as a result of the pandemic? What types of amenities are more likely to grow in popularity?

More sharing of space for work and school. Maybe more exercise rooms. Early surveys from remodelers and builders suggest rising demand for patios, decks, kitchen and bath remodeling.

Joan Ling, Lecturer in Urban Planning, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

What main changes do you expect will occur in the way people live as a result of the pandemic? What types of amenities are more likely to grow in popularity?

Buildings that are environmentally sustainable, resilient to climate change, will probably perform well in the marketplace. For example, building orientation that reduces the need for HVAC, design features that absorb stormwater and flooding, etc., will not only reduce tenants’ monthly housing costs but improve the sense of physical security of their homes.

Read more....

How will the COVID-19 pandemic shape the future of housing in America in terms of house sizes?

We have a very short memory. A couple of years after we have a vaccine, we will probably have forgotten about 2020. So, I think what drives apartment size will continue to be demographics and consumer preferences. Let’s hope that younger people will continue to be much more conscious about climate change and the impact of the built environment, and their housing choice, on the future of the planet. Keep in mind that many countries and cities with much higher density than the US are doing very well in managing COVID. It’s not about apartment size and building density.

Susan Wachter, Albert Sussman Professor of Real Estate, The University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School

How will the COVID-19 pandemic shape the future of housing in America in terms of house sizes?

Even before COVID, there has been an emergent preference among renters for the space provided by larger, suburban homes. Post-crisis, single-family rental product has become more predominant — fulfilling demand for single-family space for users that may not or cannot purchase. Recently, this has been codified in the emergence of purpose-built single-family rental developments (“build-to-rent”). Although mortgage rates are at all-time lows, credit requirements are restrictive, and many may not have the financial wherewithal to access these rates. For these users, single-family rental communities are an attractive alternative.

Read more....

What main changes do you expect will occur in the way people live as a result of the pandemic? What types of amenities are more likely to grow in popularity?

Similarly, space will be in demand. In-unit amenities will be more important to potential renters than common area amenities. Many luxury developments in major cities during the last 10 years have sought to maximize common area amenities while delivering small, efficient units. New developments are likely to reverse this and there will be repositioning of existing assets to better suit user preferences, most importantly spaces that renters can utilize in the new WFH reality.

Jeremy Moulton, Associate Professor of Public Policy, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

What main changes do you expect will occur in the way people live as a result of the pandemic? What types of amenities are more likely to grow in popularity?

I have read about increased demand for more space, both interior and exterior space as a result of the pandemic. If more companies move to allow more remote work and even hint at allowing more flexibility post pandemic, then we will likely see demand increase in more suburban/rural areas with reduced demand in dense urban areas that rely heavily on public transportation.

Bruce Frankel, Professor of Urban Planning, Ball State University

How will the COVID-19 pandemic shape the future of housing in America in terms of house sizes?

Bruce Frankel – Urban Planning

The pandemic is instilling a short-term trend toward privacy, or social distancing in its several forms. This bucks the trend historically as toward:

  1. Smaller dwellings
  2. Public transit and proximity thereto
  3. City growth
Read more....

What main changes do you expect will occur in the way people live as a result of the pandemic? What types of amenities are more likely to grow in popularity?

There will be a short-term trend toward the SFD home with effective rear yard. Regeneration of a bedroom suburb to a village concept of mixed-uses to make suburban living more convenient = “suburban renewal.” Spike in jogging and bicycle use, and attendant infrastructure [intra- and inter-urban] to support.

The car will have extra life given the fear of mass transportation on the ground and in air and sea, but will be restricted in urban areas, yielding to an infrastructure for pedestrians and bikes. In sum, the house will be designed for a more complete lifestyle, and will rise in value.

The home will continue to be used for remote work, as a proven cost-savings for businesses without loss in productivity.

Richard Peiser, Michael D. Spear Professor of Real Estate Development, Harvard University, Graduate School of Design

What main changes do you expect will occur in the way people live as a result of the pandemic? What types of amenities are more likely to grow in popularity?

At the margins, more people will move from the city to the suburbs and from suburbs to exurbs. More dog walks, common rooms, pools and other stay-at-home amenities.

Read more....

How will the COVID-19 pandemic shape the future of housing in America in terms of house sizes?

Primarily more home offices – dedicated bedrooms or dens.

Methodology

This research was conducted by STORAGECafé, an online listings portal where people can easily find self storage units for rent across the United States.

Data for the average sizes of newly built single family and multifamily homes at national and regional levels from 2010 to 2019, as well as population-related data, come from the US Census.

Figures regarding the size of newly built single family and multifamily homes from 2010 to 2019 in the country’s top 20 biggest cities were obtained from the Yardi Matrix, Point2Homes and PropertyShark databases.

We calculated the size of new apartments and single family homes built each year as a rolling average of that year and the four years prior, in order to avoid distortions caused by differences in the volume of annual deliveries and to obtain a clearer trend.

Data about the available self storage square footage in the top 20 largest cities in the US were extracted from Yardi Matrix.

Fair Use and Distribution:

This study serves as a resource for the general public on issues of common interest and should not be regarded as investment advice. The data is true to the best of our knowledge but may change if amendments to it are made. We agree to the distribution of this content but we do require a mention in return for attribution purposes.

Author

Maria Gatea is a creative writer for STORAGECafé with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the self-storage industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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