If you are looking for an apartment and you have a tight budget, there is a high chance that you will come across the term “studio apartment”. There is a lot of confusion when it comes to the size and number of rooms that you will find in these rental units, yet their popularity continues to increase among renters looking for cheaper solutions. It is important to understand what studio apartments are and what to expect when it comes to factors such as rent and utilities.
What is a studio apartment? A studio apartment is a rental unit that features one central room that serves as bedroom, living area, and kitchen. The bathroom is separated from the main room by a wall. The studio apartments are a choice for students, singles, people who work away from their homes and need a place to sleep.
There are some exceptions-alcove studio apartments have a recess that can be used as a sleeping area- but studio apartments are principally known to lack bedrooms. Studio apartments are generally cheaper when it comes to the cost of monthly rent and utilities than one bedroom apartments due to their small size. They are common within cities since they allow tenants to stay at great locations for a reasonable price.
Studio apartments are essentially self-contained units that feature everything within one room except the bathroom. Within this main room, you can use different areas for varying purposes. For example, a corner of the room that may have a sink, countertops, and cabinets will automatically be the kitchen, while another corner of the room may be the designated bedroom area. The rest of the remaining space may serve as the living area. If you intend to rent a studio apartment, there are some considerations you should keep in mind:
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Studio apartment rent considerations
1. The rent
The rent for a studio apartment is generally cheaper than that of a one bedroom unit. In the U.S, the average rent for a one bedroom apartment is $1,250, which is slightly higher than that of a studio apartment, but keep in mind that prices change according to the location of the rental unit. In some cases, the difference in the monthly rent of a one bedroom and a studio may only be $50, $60, or $75 per month.
2. The cost of utilities
The cost of utilities in studio apartments is generally more affordable as compared to bigger rental units. However, other than size, factors such as rate of consumption, the state/city you live in, the latitude, and the age of the apartment building may also affect the amount you pay for utilities on a monthly basis. Assuming you live in a studio apartment that is around 500-600 square feet in size, here is what you can expect to pay for utilities on a monthly basis:
- Air conditioning – The frequent use of an air conditioning unit usually makes a significant impact on the electricity bill. Americans typically use air conditioning units for about three to five months during the summer, which is when the electricity bill spikes as well. Expect to pay around $30-40 per month for air conditioning in a studio apartment during the summer.
- Heating – Depending on where you live, heating your unit to stay warm is a necessity. Since a studio space is small, it won’t take too much heat to warm it up. Expect to pay around $50 per month during the winter for heating your apartment.
- Electricity – Excluding air conditioning and heating, contributors to the electricity bill include lighting and the use of electronic appliances. Although the amount you pay will heavily depend on your consumption and the energy efficiency of your appliances and lights, the electricity bill should cost you about $65 per month on average (minus heating and cooling costs)
- Water – Depending on your water usage, the water bill in a studio apartment will cost you around $40 on average.
- Internet – The internet has become a necessity and is included as part of the utilities. Expect to pay an average of $45, but you have the option to share costs with a roommate or your immediate neighbor if you are using the same connection.
- Cable – Cable is an optional luxury, especially when you can now pay for streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video. Subscribing to two such services will not cost you more than $20. If you choose to go for cable, you could get a deal that will cost you around $90 per month.
- Cooking gas – Most people opt to cook using natural gas rather than electricity since it is generally cheaper. Expect to pay $15 at most.
- Garbage – The cost of garbage is typically included in your rent, but in case it isn’t, it shouldn’t cost you more than $20 per month.
3. The location
The rent for a studio apartment greatly varies depending on its location. A studio apartment situated in the outskirts of the city will be cheaper than one near the city center of the same size and layout. This doesn’t mean that there are no affordable studio apartments in the city-they may just not be located in the ideal location. The city you live in also plays a huge role in the amount you pay. The average rent per month for a 550 square foot studio apartment in San Francisco is $3,052, while studio of the same size in Chicago will cost you $1,350 per month.
Advantages of studio living
There are many reasons why studio apartments are favored by tenants despite their small size:
- More affordable rent and utilities – Depending on the location, studio apartments are generally more affordable to rent than one bedroom units. Due to their smaller sizes, the utilities in studios are cheaper as well, although this will depend on the rate of your consumption.
- They are easy to clean – Cleaning is easier when your unit only has one main room and a bathroom that is not particularly big. Since you have less square footage to cover, it shouldn’t take too long to tidy up your home. Moreover, if you clean your studio apartment regularly, you will have an even easier time.
- Many are in prime locations – Since they don’t take up too much space, you will find a lot of studio apartments situated within big cities such as New York and Chicago. You are likely to find one near your place of work or just outside your college campus. This makes commuting from one place to another more manageable.
- You’ll save on furniture – A studio apartment does not have enough space to accommodate several pieces of furniture. This is a good thing, especially if you don’t want to spend too much of your hard earned money on furniture shopping. You will focus on a few impactful pieces that are not too big in size, which means you will only get what is necessary.
- More environmentally friendly – Living in a studio apartment makes less of an impact on the environment. This is because you will generally use less water, and your waste generation will probably be lower as well. If your consumption rate is not too high, your electric bill will likely be lower than that of someone who lives in a one bedroom unit, which means you will be more energy efficient.
- There will be less clutter in your home – You are less likely to accumulate clutter when you live in a studio apartment since your space is already limited. If you are a hoarder, living in a small space like a studio will force you to cut down on spending money on unnecessary knick-knacks.
- You’ll adopt a more outgoing lifestyle – Living in such a small space will encourage you to go out and discover local spots of interest in your city.
- Studio living makes multitasking easier – Since a studio apartment features one main room with different areas, it is easier to get more than one thing done at once. You can easily prepare a meal in the kitchen area as you watch the TV and catch up with your friends in the living area at the same time.
The downsides of renting a studio apartment
It’s not all smooth sailing when you live in a studio unit. Issues you will encounter include:
- Keeping some of your belongings in storage – Due to the small space, you will be forced to keep some of your belongings in storage if you don’t want to get rid of them, which means you will have to pay for a service you might not have needed if you lived in a bigger unit.
- Limiting when it comes to having people over – Hosting friends and family in your studio apartment might result in overcrowding and a general lack of comfort. Furthermore, since you don’t have a door that can keep your sleeping area hidden, you will be forced to be selective with people who can visit you.
- You will miss out on a closet – Many studio apartments do not include closets due to the limited square footage. Consequently, you will have to find other ways to store your clothes.
- Can’t accommodate more than two people – Studio apartments are ideal for one or two people at most. They are mostly favored by couples, single people, or two roommates who don’t mind being in each other’s space constantly. Otherwise, a studio space can be really uncomfortable.
- May feel claustrophobic for some – Some people may find studio apartments to be too small for their liking. If you are claustrophobic, studio living is not for you.
- You are limited when it comes to decoration – You may feel restricted when it comes to decorating your studio unit since you can’t have too many ornamental pieces in such a small space.
Maximizing the space in a studio apartment
Here are some tips on how to make the most of your limited studio space
1. Vertical storage
Expanding your storage upwards allows you to take advantage of usually unused space. Options include:
- Mounting a shelf above the door trim in your bathroom where you can place your towels and toiletries. Just make sure your landlord does not have a problem with you adding shelves.
- If you have a high ceiling, create a lofted storage space for items you don’t use too often.
- Hang your pans and pots from a metal rod that is chained to the ceiling.
- Store your clothes on clothing racks and dressers.
2. Double duty furniture
One of the best space-saving features, when you live in a studio apartment, is double duty furniture. Some ideas to take into consideration include:
- Using your TV stand to store items you don’t want in plain sight.
- Use the island in your kitchen area as a work desk.
- Invest in a bed that can transform into a sofa and effectively create the impression of a proper sitting area when you have company.
- Look for an ottoman that has built-in storage and can function as a coffee table or a seat.
3. Partition wisely
Partitioning is a great way of creating “rooms’ in a studio apartment, but when you overdo it, your space will end up seeming even smaller.
4. Organization is key
All in all, it is important to stay organized when you have a studio apartment. Here are some tips on how you can control clutter:
- Do your laundry regularly
- Clean the kitchen area on a daily basis
- Recycle daily to avoid the buildup of recyclable items such as paper or items in the kitchen
- Clean off your work area as soon as you are done using it.
What are you expected to pay when you sign your lease? Some of the costs you are expected to pay around the time you sign the lease for a rental unit are as follows:
- Security deposit – Most landlords require tenants to pay an amount that is equal to one or two month’s rent as a security deposit. This amount is usually refundable when your lease ends.
- Advance rent – You will also be required to pay the rent for the first month in advance, and probably the last month’s rent as well.
- Pet deposit – If you have a furry friend, your landlord may charge you a pet deposit. This amount goes towards any damages your pet may cause to the unit.
How can I get approved for an apartment with bad credit? Some of the strategies you can use to get approved for an apartment even with bad credit include:
- Look for rentals that are not too keen on credit checks
- Get recommendations from previous landlords, employers, friends, or your bank.
- Offer to pay more money upfront
- Show proof of a steady income