How Much Space Do I Really Need?

Coming from dorm life in college, moving into an apartment feels amazing! So much freedom, so much space, but how much space do you actually need? Is there such a thing as too much space? Find out what size your perfect apartment is. (Please note: space is a hot commodity in many cities, so these numbers are general and vary depending on where you live. Realistically, in some high rent markets you can only afford a small studio or a roommate share.)

On average, a dorm for 2 is about 229 square feet.

  • Studios range from 250-500
  • 1br range from typically 400-850
  • 2-4 br 800+

So you are already off to a great start because even a studio will feel spacious after living in those cramped college quarters. From here you need to start considering what you plan to do in your space.

Do you just need a space for you?

Perhaps consider a studio. If you’re just looking for a space to sleep, shower and cook, a studio is the perfect solution. You will have space enough to keep your belongings, but this will probably not be an ideal spot for group hangouts or parties.

Do you want a pet?

If you are looking to get a furry friend, or perhaps you already have one, consider that you will have to up your space as well. For each pet, the average recommendation is to add an additional 70-100 sq feet to the space you need to live. Of course, this varies on your pet’s size and energy level, but keep in mind that a small space for pets can mean more walks and more incidents of destruction to property/furniture.

Do you need a home office?

If you’re looking for a home office, consider getting an additional room. Having an additional room allows you to isolate yourself from other distractions around your apartment. If you can’t afford that extra bedroom, convert a portion of your living room into your office space. The downside is that it’s hard to get work done with your TV staring at you.

Do want to host parties? 

If you are the hostess-with-the-mostess, you’ll want to have additional space for hosting. This can be an upgrade in square footage, or addition of bedrooms. If you think you’ll have many overnight guests, consider adding a bedroom for guests. If you are just looking to have seasonal parties, look for an apartment with a bigger living room that has space for a dining table and couches.

Do you want a family?

If you are looking to start or expand your family, start thinking bigger during your apartment search. Thankfully most leases are 12 months, so you can always go bigger when the time is right. But if you are looking for a long-term rental, think about your goals in the next 1-4 years. If those goals include children, you may want to think about skipping the renovated kitchen for more space.

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Author My First Apartment

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Marisa Rinchiuso is a Design+Production major at Carnegie Mellon with a passion for DIY, budgeting and event management. She's always on the search for a great deal and new projects. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, crafts and travel.

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