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Rental Report: Studio or One-Bedroom Apartment?

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Editor’s Note: This biweekly sponsored column is written by Rick Gersten, founder and CEO of Urban Igloo, a rental real estate firm that matches up renters with their ideal apartments, condos or houses. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

It’s no secret that rents in the D.C. Metro area are steep. There are several things renters can do to help keep costs down: live further out of the city, give up some amenities or features, or get a roommate — just to name a few.

But what if none of those options is appealing? Maybe downsizing is the answer. Of course, there are a few things to consider before making a decision.

Size — Sure, this seems obvious, but remember, you aren’t just giving up a room. Sometimes, you are giving up on more than just a bedroom when you choose a studio apartment. Kitchens may be smaller or there may not be a lot of closet space, forcing you to get creative with your space. Generally speaking, a studio apartment is going to be around 400-500 square feet, but in the Arlington area, renters can find studio apartments closer to 600 square feet in some buildings.

Lifestyle — Do you spend a lot of time at home? Do you like to entertain? Will you be living with another person? These could be checks in the one bedroom column. That extra room gives you privacy and separation when you need it. On the other hand, if you work or travel quite a bit, a studio may be all you need. And let’s face it, some people just like a cozy, small space. Keep in mind, too, that some buildings offer common entertainment rooms so you can still throw your annual St. Patrick’s Day soirée.

Cost — Rent is generally a good bit less for a studio, but don’t forget about the impact on utilities, too. If you have to pay your utilities, a smaller space is going to cost less. How much are you really saving? A 510-square-foot studio apartment in this well located, Virginia Square building runs around $1,750 per month. A 700-square-foot one bedroom is around $,1950. Both units have a flat rate utility charge of $75. When you dig a little deeper and look at the cost per square foot, the one bedroom turns out to be a much better value at $2.89 per square foot versus $3.57 per square foot.

Studio apartments often can save you a few hundred dollars per month, but the cost savings don’t always outweigh the drawbacks. It is a matter of perspective and what satisfies your needs.  Be sure to look at the whole picture when considering your next place.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Have a rental-related question you’d like Rental Report to answer? Email it to [email protected].

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