Apartments in the Seattle area are getting bigger, but that trend is being driven by construction in suburban cities, according to a new study by RentCafe.
While Seattle itself is seeing the construction of smaller apartments, those being built in Everett are the largest in the country at 1,195 square feet on average. The average size for an Everett apartment between 2016 and 2020 was 928 square feet, but this year saw an increase of 267 square feet in new units.
Cities in King County also saw increases, including Kirkland, which saw the average size of apartments increase from 610 to 821 square feet this year. Auburn saw an 87 square foot increase, and Redmond saw an average increase of 34 square feet. At the same time, apartments in Seattle proper got smaller by 64 square feet, on average.
Kirkland and Auburn are also bucking their trends of building smaller, according to RentCafe. During the last decade, these cities were building progressively smaller apartments. But both cities are now building larger units.
Everett and Kirkland were the top two cities with the largest increases in square footage in new apartments, followed by Scottsdale, AZ, and Midland, TX. Chicago was the largest city on the list, which added 38 square feet.
Of the 92 cities that RentCafe analyzed across the U.S., 36% of apartment buildings that were under construction were trending toward larger apartments compared to five years ago. These apartments increased by some 50 square feet on average.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, three-bedroom apartments saw the largest increase in square footage, followed in order by two-bedroom and then one-bedroom apartments.
The study said the pandemic and working from home has made people more aware of the space they live in, especially related to office and work spaces.
The average increase of 48 square feet is large enough to accommodate a small home office, a bathroom or some kind of living space that provides a lifestyle upgrade for people spending more time at home.
While it’s still too early to say with certainty that larger apartments are a result of the pandemic, it could be that the trend is due to developers targeting people with high incomes who choose not to buy, according to RentCafe.
It could also be due to people moving from urban areas to the suburbs, the RentCafe article states, where people can find larger housing but also easier access to the outdoors while being close to community amenities.