SEATTLE — New apartments in Seattle are smaller than any other place in the country, according to a RentCafe report from earlier this month.
The average size of a new Seattle apartment in 2022 was 659 square feet, while the national average was 887 square feet. The average Seattle apartment at 689 square feet is also among the nation's smallest, only equaled by San Francisco units.
Apartment sizes have been on the decline nationwide in recent years, with a 54-square-foot drop in the average from 10 years ago. Seattle's average square footage has dropped by 30 feet over the same time frame.
RentCafe cites the increase in demand for studio and one-bedroom apartments as the reason for the decline in 2022. This reversed the trend of 2020 and 2021 when people sought more personal space amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sean Flynn, with the Rental Housing Association of Washington, works with landlords considered to be “mom and pop” through the Rental Housing Association of Washington.
He said over the past 10-15 years Seattle has seen more large, corporate apartment complexes in areas like South Lake Union and Belltown. He said many of these are small one-bedrooms or studios.
“Density is good, right? However, that needs to be balanced with options for people who live a different life,” said Flynn.
He said there need to be more options in the city for people who want roommates or have a family.
“Not everyone is a single person who wants to live alone, and we should be building housing policy that provides for housing options for everybody,” said Flynn.
Flynn added that Seattle’s geography is also a factor in the increase in small units.
“Seattle literally sits between two giant bodies of water where we don't have enough raw land to build those large units anymore,” said Flynn.
The Pacific Northwest as a whole has the least amount of new apartment space among any region surveyed by RentCafe. Portland is third on the list for the smallest average new apartment in the country, behind Queens, N.Y. and Seattle.
By comparison, Tallahassee, Fla. had the largest average new apartment size at 1,182 square feet.