Manhattan apartments are getting bigger: Study

Amid a national trend of shrinking square footage, the Big Apple’s priciest borough is shockingly an outlier. While, in the rest of the nation, apartments have grown smaller — those in Manhattan have actually grown.

That’s according to a new survey by online listings company RentCafe. In a ranking of 15 cities, the study found that new Manhattan apartments have increased in average size by 3% in the past 10 years, with new units sizing in at 740 square feet on average. That’s 19 square feet more than the 721 square foot average of all apartments. 

Despite the sizable improvements of the last decade, however, Manhattan still clocks in near the bottom of the list in terms of average size, with only fellow boroughs Brooklyn and Queens (692 square feet and 681 square feet, respectively) and the cities of Detroit, Portland and Seattle averaging smaller new apartments. And there’s hardly an upside to those teensy outer-borough averages: Both Brooklyn and Queens apartments were found to have shrunk by 7% over the past decade. 

rentcafe manhattan apartment trend
Other markets similar to Manhattan have also seen a relatively anomalous increase in the average size of new units.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

RentCafe writers attribute the shift significantly to supply and demand. In more expensive housing markets, like Manhattan and San Francisco (which also saw an increase in average apartment size), deeper-pocketed renters are looking for more space, despite the high cost. Meanwhile, in less luxury-focused markets like Brooklyn, Queens and Detroit, renters are prioritizing affordability over square footage, leading to the development of more compact, but cheaper, apartments.

“Despite this increase, the inventory of apartments in Manhattan — new and old — remained slightly smaller than apartments in Queens or Brooklyn,” the report noted. “However, if you choose [a Manhattan] apartment that was built in the last ten years, you’ll get more elbow room here than anywhere else in NYC.”

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