There’s no doubt that New York City dwellings are small—we are in the middle of Micro Week, after all—but how have apartment sizes changed over time? A new study by real estate analytics firm RCLCO set out to answer that question, not just for New York City, but for major metropolitan areas across the United States. (h/t Bloomberg)
What they found was not all that surprising: apartment sizes are shrinking, though the largest losses may not be where you’d think. But let’s look at how New York City ranks first: Interestingly enough, though, New York City is nowhere near the top of the list when it comes to changes in the average size of a new apartment.
According to RCLCO’s data, the average NYC apartment measured around 890 square feet in the period between 2000–2009 (looking at new-build units); in the period from 2010–2016, that number decreased, but only to 866 square feet.
In fact, the New York metropolitan area (including NYC, Newark, and Jersey City) ranks 16th on that list, with only a three percent decrease in apartment sizes. The Philadelphia metro area topped the list, with Detroit, Seattle, Minneapolis, and Boston rounding out the to five.
RCLCO also found that "very high markets" (i.e. New York City and San Francisco) had the smallest apartments to start with (the average apartment size from 2000–2009 was 894 square feet, compared to 1,022 in low-cost markets), "making it more difficult to trim additional square footage at an equivalent rate," per the report—hence, the size decrease in those cities was smaller than in others.
And according to RCLCO’s research, more than 50 percent of apartments in very high cost markets now measure 700 square feet or less—which, again, should come as no surprise to New Yorkers.
There are a lot of factors to consider here: The fact that RCLCO’s report only looked at apartments that have been built since 2000, and the fact that NYC apartments are already pretty small to start with (recent research puts the average New York studio size at 550 square feet, and one-bedrooms at 750). But considering the renewed push for smaller apartments for single New Yorkers, as well as the interest in micro housing, this is a trend that could continue to play out over time.