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What is an Efficiency Apartment?

April 2, 2021

Looking to move into a bustling downtown area in a city like San Francisco or New York? Living in these expensive cities might require renting a smaller space, like efficiency apartments or studios.

Efficiency apartments and studio apartments are similar but have a few key differences. Not sure what an efficiency apartment is, but keep seeing them on your apartment search? We've got you covered!

What is an Efficiency Apartment?

Efficiency apartments are very similar to studios but have a few important differences. Efficiency apartments are typically smaller than studios and come with fewer features.

Efficiency apartments likely won't have a separate kitchen area like studio apartments. Instead, efficiency apartments will have a smaller kitchenette.

The bathrooms in efficiency apartments are often smaller than the bathrooms you'd find in studios. Instead of a bath and shower, you might just have a shower. You'll also likely have less counter space in your bathroom.

What is a Studio Apartment?

Although the layout of studio apartments varies, most feature a similar floorplan. Studio apartments are essentially one combined room. Your kitchen, bedroom, and living room will all be in the same space. While a one-bedroom apartment features a living room and bedroom, studio apartments combine the two. This type of floorplan will have a separate bathroom. While you likely won't have the real estate to entertain guests in a studio, it's a solid choice for a renter living alone.

Efficiency vs Studio Apartments

While the two have many similarities, there are four key differences between studio and efficiency apartments.

1. Size

The square footage of studio apartments is typically around 500-600 square feet. In some apartment buildings, you might find much larger studios with open-concept layouts and a large area. Efficiency apartments are almost always going to be a bit smaller than the standard studio.

2. Kitchen

Efficiency apartments are usually smaller than a studio because they have a smaller kitchen space. Many studios will feature a full-size, fully-functional kitchen. Studio kitchens will typically come equipped with your typical appliances and adequate counter space. 

In an efficiency apartment, you'll likely find some variation of a kitchenette. A kitchenette is a smaller version of a kitchen that has fewer appliances. You’ll probably have things like a mini-fridge and a stovetop with only one or two burners. If cooking isn’t your thing, this setup might be fine for you. If you love cooking, an efficiency apartment wouldn't be your best bet.

However, there are ways to optimize organization and ways to make your small kitchen look bigger.

3. Price

Efficiency apartments tend to have slightly lower rents than studios, but the difference isn't too substantial. If you are on a tight budget, these savings might be crucial in your decision between efficiency and studio apartments.

If the price difference is negligible, the location, apartment layout, and the apartment building should be your deciding factors.

4. Occupancy

In an efficiency apartment, you pretty much need to live alone. Living with a roommate is going to be extremely cramped. Unless you live a very minimalist lifestyle, it’s best to avoid that situation.

In a larger studio, you could make living with a roommate work. It's certainly not ideal, but it's easier to set up a living space with the extra square footage of a studio. If you are planning to rent a studio with a partner, make sure you are comfortable sharing a lot of personal space!

Benefits of Living in an Efficiency Apartment

There are a few added benefits to living in the small space offered by an efficiency apartment. Don't let the small space scare you away before considering the benefits!

1. Location

Location plays a huge role in any apartment hunt. If you are considering an efficiency apartment, you are likely planning to live in a bustling part of town.

You may be able to afford a one-bedroom twenty minutes out of downtown. But if opting for a small apartment allows you to live in the heart of the city, the added benefits are huge. Walk to your favorite downtown spots instead of driving. Walk to the downtown office instead of commuting and sitting in traffic.

If living in a lively part of town is your dream, living in a small apartment might get you there.

2. Saving Money

Living in an effiency apartment could save you tons of money. If you plan on living in a desirable location but have a tight budget, effiency apartments are nice affordable option.

Rent is always the least expensive for these types of floorplans. Passing up a one-bedroom for an efficiency apartment can save you hundreds in rent.

Beyond cheaper rent, you'll see even greater savings from living in a small apartment. You need less furniture, less decor, and will spend less on utilities. Before making a decision, be sure to factor in these savings.

3. Decluttering

Unfortunately, living in a small studio or efficiency apartment means you have less storage space. The lack of counter space and walk-in closet may be a dealbreaker for some. Others might see it as an opportunity to say goodbye to some of your useless belongings. You'll think twice about spending money on unnecessary things. Even more savings!

4. Less to Clean

Can't stand cleaning? Efficiency apartments just may be your perfect match!
Rent an apartment with a lot less space and you'll have a lot less to clean. Not only do you have less space to look after, but if you cut back on clothes that means less laundry as well!

Sold on a small apartment? Think a one-bedroom apartment is the better option? Whatever you are looking for, let Apartment List help you find your next home. Just use the quiz above!

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Justin is a Content Manager and contributing author at Apartment List, helping people navigate the world of renting. Justin previously spent his time earning his BBA in Marketing from Boise State University. Read More
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