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Efficiency Apartments: A Guide + How to Find Them

November 8, 2022
Looking into renting an efficiency apartment, but not sure what one is? Read further for what efficiency apartments are, and how they differ from studio apartments.

Living in expensive cities like San Francisco or New York 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 which one is right for you? Continue for a brekadown of each along with insight into how to find one in an area you're interested in during your apartment search.

What is an Efficiency Apartment?

Efficiency apartments are apartment units with a single room containing a kitchenette, living room space, bedroom, and bathroom. Efficiency apartments are very similar to studios and the terms may be used interchangeably, but efficiency apartments are typically smaller than studios and come with fewer features.

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?

Studio apartments are essentially one combined room with a kitchen, bedroom, and living room located within the same space.

While a one-bedroom apartment features a living room and bedroom, studio apartments combine the two.

Studio apartment floor plans will always include a separate bathroom, either within the unit or a shared 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.

What is the Difference Between Efficiency vs Studio Apartments

The differences between efficiency and studio apartments come down to size, kitchen layout and features, pricing, and occupancy limits. Generally, efficiency apartments are smaller than studios, have kitchenettes instead of kitchens, are cheaper than studios, and may best fit one tenant.

Here’s an in-depth look at the differences between efficiency and studio apartments.

1. Apartment 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.

luxury modern design of a cozy small Scandinavian-style studio apartment with white walls, second floor with a library and huge high window full of day light - efficiency apartment

2. Kitchen Size

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. However, both studio and efficiency apartment renters benefit from lower decorating costs, furnishing costs, and utility bill costs.

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 available to you.

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!

Buildings in New York, USA - efficiency apartment - studio apartment

1. Location

Typically, efficiency apartments are located in cities’ downtown centers. If you are looking for an affordable apartment in the middle of a city, you should consider efficiency apartments.

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 efficiency apartment could save you tons of money, as efficiency apartments are typically among the cheapest rentals units. If you plan on living in a desirable location but have a tight budget, efficiency 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. Less Space Means Less Clutter & Better Decor

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.

Moreover, when you’re decorating your efficiency apartment, you’ll find that bolder items are a better pick than collecting knickknacks that end up looking more like clutter than decor.

Basket with brushes, rags, natural sponges and cleaning products. Modern kitchen interior in the background. House cleaning concept - efficiency apartment

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!

How To Find Efficiency Apartments Near You

Efficiency apartments are generally found in converted homes or properties. As studio apartments can be found in nearly any property type, efficiency apartments are much harder to find than studio apartments.

Fortunately, using Apartment List can help you whittle down your apartment options, so you can find a tiny apartment that best suits you.

Let Apartment List help you find your next home. Just use the quiz above!

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Justin Chaplin
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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