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Studio vs. 1 Bedroom Apartments - What's the Difference?

By: Ashley Walter, Kimi Kaneshina, and Davina Ward
July 26, 2021

If you’re searching for apartments in New York City or San Francisco, you might be looking at some smaller-than-desired apartments due to the cost of living. If it's just you, or you and a roommate, you're likely choosing between a studio vs. a 1-bedroom apartment. These two popular picks have a lot in common, but they have some major differences as well.

Before you move, it’s important for renters to understand the distinctions of each. Let’s take a look at what a studio vs. a 1-bedroom offers. With this knowledge, you can make an informed decision and choose an apartment that’s right for you.

What is a Studio Apartment?

A studio apartment offers a single room that combines your living room, bedroom, and eating area together with an open floor space. This means that there are no walls or separations that divide the different room sections, including the bedroom, living room, and kitchen. But don’t worry, your bathroom will be separate, thanks to mandated U.S. housing laws. A studio apartment functions around the concept of a single large room serving as one main living area.

When it comes to studio vs. 1-bedrooms, studios are comfy and concise, which could be a pro for some renters. However, the lack of rooms, privacy, and space could be deal-breakers for other renters.

It can also take some time to adjust to the idea of your sleeping area attached to your kitchen. Remember, if you are cooking something that carries a lingering smell along with it, you'll be sleeping right alongside it.

Studio apartments are usually ideal for a single renter in urban areas with high rental price tags. Opting for a cozy studio vs. 1-bedroom apartment could save you tons of money. Of course, with those savings come sacrifices of space and privacy.

How Much is a Studio Apartment?

The average studio apartment costs $1,188. However, they vary in price depending on their location. According to our data rent estimates, the most expensive studio apartments are located in Dublin, CA at $2,754 per month. The most affordable studio apartments are located in Cedar Rapids, IA. These cost $424 per month.

What is a 1-Bedroom Apartment?

Like the name implies, a 1-bedroom apartment features a bedroom separate from the main living space. Unlike a studio apartment, the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen are all separate areas.

Depending on the size of the space, a living or dining room may combine with the kitchen for an open floor concept. Larger apartments might also offer their own separate eating area. As a general rule, 1-bedroom apartments are typically more spacious than a studio, and entertaining others prove easier with the increased space.

How Much is a 1-Bedroom Apartment?

The average 1-bedroom apartment costs $1,250. These also vary in price depending on their location. The most expensive 1-bedroom apartments are located in Marina del Rey, CA. These cost $3507 per month. The most affordable studio apartments are located in Odessa, TX at $490 per month.

What’s the Price Difference Between Studio vs. 1-Bedroom Apartments?

Studio apartments tend to be cheaper than 1-bedroom apartments by 5%. It’s up to you to determine if the price difference is worth it.

Below, we’ve listed the studio apartment prices by a few popular cities in the US: Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle.

CityAverage Studio RentAverage 1-Bedroom Rent
Austin, TX$1,227$1,396
Boston, MA$2,529$2,972
Chicago, IL$1,463$1,800
Los Angeles, CA$1,942$2,547
New York, NY$3,001$3,429
Philadelphia, PA$1,455$1,786
San Francisco, CA$2,128$2,984
Seattle, WA$1,508$2,156

Differences Between a Studio and 1-Bedroom Apartment

When it comes to choosing a studio vs. a 1-bedroom apartment, there are several differences to consider.

1. Price

It’s almost always cheaper to rent a studio apartment than it is to rent a 1-bedroom apartment. However, it’s important to weigh the price tag with the limited space offered in a studio.

Studios rents usually run several hundred dollars cheaper than 1-bedrooms, depending on square footage and luxury in question. However, the increased size of the 1-bedroom may be worth the added expense.

Of course, the savings may be worth it. Even a few hundred dollars a month can cover your utility bill and groceries for the entire month.

Here’s the verdict on a studio vs. 1-bedroom apartments:

If saving money is your number one priority, a studio will likely be your best and most affordable option. If you prefer more space, a separate bedroom, and can stretch your budget, a 1-bedroom apartment is the way to go.

2. Occupancy

One-bedroom apartments are almost always the better option if you’re moving in with someone else. After all, a 1-bedroom unit offers more space, storage, and comfort for two people cohabitating than a cramped studio apartment. Studio apartments can also save a bundle when you live with a roommate or significant other.

Although they aren’t as small as an efficiency apartment, studios tend to feel crowded when there are multiple people living in such a snug space. Remember you need both living and storage space, requiring a downsize if you plan to live in a studio apartment with another person.

If you want to save money and can go even smaller than a studio, learn about the differences between micro-units and mirco-apartments for city living.

3. Lifestyle

Depending on your lifestyle, you may want more room to complement your daily routine. For example, if you enjoy hosting people, having a 1-bedroom apartment offers your guests the space they need to get comfortable and relax.

When you live in a studio apartment, your bed may also serve as part of the seating area. That means guests are constantly surrounded by your personal effects and don’t have much room to spread out. It’s not impossible, but difficult to entertain a crowd when you live in a studio apartment.

Lifestyles that include redecorating, entertaining, and collecting the latest gadgets aren’t conducive to a studio apartment. However, the separate rooms in a 1-bedroom apartment allow for more storage and space to add more furnishings and apartment decor.

4. Remote Work

It’s true you can work from home in both a studio apartment or a 1-bedroom apartment. However, it’s not always practical or comfortable to eat, sleep, work, and relax in the same room day in and day out. Sometimes studio apartments just don’t offer the flexibility you need for your work-life balance. Since the Coronavirus pandemic hit, working from home has become way more common, and it's something you should consider.

If you’re working at home for the long-haul, a 1-bedroom apartment is likely a better choice to save your sanity. You’re also more likely to have flex space, whether in a hallway or the corner of your living room to set up a work from home office in your apartment.

5. Location

Sometimes size doesn’t matter at all when you’re apartment hunting, and the location is everything. Studios are easier to find in trendy, urban areas, and at a more affordable price point.

Consider the price point of studio vs. 1-bedroom apartments:

  • $1,188 for a studio apartment in the most lively part of the city.
  • $1,188 for a 1-bedroom apartment a 20-minute drive the city limits.

It’s time to decide. Is sacrificing a bedroom and more space worth the walk to all of the trendiest bars, restaurants, and cultural events in the city?

How to Find a Studio Apartment Near You

To find a studio apartment, you’ll need to narrow down your options starting with your budget, preferences, and commute. Here are the steps to follow to find your dream studio apartment.

Determine Your Budget

Apartment budgeting can be challenging, especially considering the high upfront costs of renting an apartment. That said, following the 30% rule can help you build an accurate apartment budget.

The 30% rule recommends that you spend no more than 30% of your monthly or annual pre-tax (gross) income on rent.

Though this rule doesn’t apply to all financial situations, it's usually a good marker for those looking to rent comfortably.

If you’re not one to be bothered with math, you can use our rent calculator to determine how much you can afford to pay in rent each month.

Set Your Studio Apartment Priorities

Studio apartments are small but mighty. They can pack several amenities into little square footage.

When searching for a studio apartment, you’ll need to consider which amenities you’d like most in your apartment.

A murphy bed to save space? Lots of natural light to make the unit look larger? Or maybe efficient washing and drying machines?

Whatever your preferences are, it’s important to list them out and use them to narrow down your options during your search.

Consider Your Commute Time

If you’re a daily commuter, then you should heavily consider time and transportation methods when you’re searching for apartments.

Commuting via a personal vehicle is typically the fastest and most convenient mode of transportation. However, as most studios are found in the hearts of major cities, public transportation may be the way to go.

Regardless of the transportation option you choose, you’ll need to research the best route options for your commute to maximize your time.

You’ve still got to do some due diligence as a remote worker. Start by researching the best cities for remote workers.

Prepare for Studio Apartment Tours

Apartment tours allow you to check out the studio and visualize what your life would look like in it.

However, the most important aspect of an apartment tour is assessing the studio’s condition. You don’t want to move in and deal with problems such as broken outlets, windows that won’t open, or a wonky door hinge.

Take this time to go through the apartment with a fine-tooth comb. Additionally, bring a list of questions to ask your landlord when touring.

Applying for Your Studio Apartment

The application process for a studio apartment mimics that of any other rental process, meaning there should be very few surprises.

You’ll be asked to complete an apartment application and fill out relevant information about yourself, including your income, current job, and details about your rental history.

You will also be asked to provide consent for a background and credit check, so your landlord can thoroughly vet you during the tenant screening process.

Be sure to double-check your application to ensure that it has been filled out correctly and in its entirety.

In a competitive market, a landlord won’t hunt you down if you missed a page on your application.

Protect Yourself from Rental Scams

Unfortunately, both first-time and seasoned renters need to stay on their guard when it comes to rental scams. Scammers aren’t as rare as you would think!

According to a recent rental fraud study conducted by Apartment List, over five million renters have lost money from rental fraud. A third of those renters lost over $1,000 to scammers.

Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself against rental fraud, starting with keeping your searches limited to reputable, trustworthy listing sites.

Beyond that, you’ll need to be wary of using cash or money wiring services (Cash App, Venmo, Paypal, etc.). These services offer limited protection against scammers, and while you may be able to retrieve lost funds, it will be an uphill battle.

Finally, be wary of any prospective listing and do your due diligence to ensure that you’re renting a genuine property from the true landlord. If it means searching the public land records, then so be it. Better safe than sorry!

How to Find Cheap Studio Apartments

Finding an apartment that you can afford means setting your budget early on and sticking to it. Unfortunately, the most popular method of saving money on rent (splitting with a roommate) is usually out of the question when it comes to studios.

However, you may be able to land an apartment that’s slightly out of your budget if you find a deal on a move-in special.

Studios often come with incentives that can include free or reduced rent. The combined savings can bring the apartment into your budget range.

If you want to widen your selection of apartments to include those that aren’t advertised as move-in specials, you can pursue renting in neighborhoods that are considered up-and-coming.

These neighborhoods may be a little rough around the edges, but they are usually experiencing growth and development that will catapult them into highly-coveted status within some years.

When’s the Best Time to Rent Studios?

When searching for a studio apartment, it’s crucial to understand the best time of year to start your apartment search. The seasonality of renting typically affects the best time of year to rent.

The rental industry follows seasonal trends that make it easy to choose the best time of year to rent.

As searches for apartments increase starting in December and keep rising until their peak in July, it’s best to start your search during the late fall months.

During this time, rent prices decrease and apartment searches begin to lag, meaning you’ll have less competition.

Better yet, you’ll have enough time to plan and execute a mid-winter move, which does take some planning.

Studio vs. 1-Bedroom Apartments: The Final Verdict

If you want to have guests over frequently and rent price is less of a concern, a 1-bedroom apartment makes sense for you.

If you'll be living alone or are living with one roommate you're very comfortable with and want to save the most money possible, a studio apartment is your best bet.

Wherever your priorities may lie, it's never too early to begin apartment searching. Ready to find that perfectly-located studio or that roomy 1-bedroom apartment? Start our quiz!

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AUTHOR
Ashley is a freelance writer at Apartment List. In addition to her contributions to Apartment List, Ashley works with other real estate businesses and is currently earning her BA in English Writing and Journalism. Read More
AUTHOR
Kimi is a Content Associate and contributing author at Apartment List, helping renters find a new place to call home. Kimi earned her BA in Organizational Studies, Economics from Scripps College. Read More
AUTHOR
Davina Ward is a contributing author at Apartment List and freelance writer specializing in real estate and digital marketing. She received her B. Read More
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