DC region apartments are among the smallest, and getting smaller

Renters sacrifice space, and renters in the D.C. region sacrifice more of it, based on research just released on average apartment sizes by market.

The new RentCafe report says the average size of a rental apartment in the D.C. region is 738 square feet. That’s actually 9 square feet larger than a decade ago (enough for a small desk or an extra closet), but the report also says the average size of apartments in the D.C. area currently under construction is 670 square feet.

The D.C. market ranks No. 7 on both the smallest average size and smallest under construction list.

Apartment sizes are shrinking because of the types of properties developers are building now.

“You can go by Crystal City and Navy Yard and see the type of apartment buildings being built. They are towers, and concurrently units are smaller,” said RentCafe’s Doug Ressler.

Renters here aren’t exactly giving up space, just giving up private space. The tradeoff in much of the new construction is amenity-rich common spaces that can include lounges, game rooms and even co-working spaces.

In the D.C. region, most new residential construction is in walkable neighborhoods with services and entertainment and close to the Washington Metro.

“What we see is mixed-use being closely associated with transit-oriented development, and being able to live there and work there,” Ressler said.

Silver Spring, Maryland, also makes the list of smallest apartment size. The average of 780 square feet, 114 square feet smaller than a decade ago, represents the largest 10-year change in average apartment size on the list.

The average size of an apartment in Alexandria, Virginia, is 827 square feet, 34-square-feet smaller than a decade ago.

The largest apartments tend to be in the South. The smallest tend to be in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest.

RentCare’s full report and lists on market-specific apartment size can be found online.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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