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Should You Rent a Studio Apartment?

[Updated: Nov 16, 2020] Oct 07, 2019 by Maurie Backman
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When I first moved to New York City, I planned on renting a modest one-bedroom apartment. Real estate comes at a premium in NYC, including rentals, so I knew an apartment would eat up a huge chunk of my income. But when I saw what a one-bedroom would actually cost, I switched gears and started looking for a studio apartment instead.

Thankfully, I found a rather affordable one that got plenty of light and wasn’t the size of a shoebox. Still, I learned that there are pluses and minuses to renting a studio. Here are a few you should know about if you’re contemplating renting one yourself.

Pro #1: Cheaper rent

Living in a studio is a good way to save money on rent. By opting for a studio over a one-bedroom, I shaved $500 a month off of my housing costs. Granted, these numbers speak for New York City. In a smaller city, your savings may not be as substantial, but they should amount to something.

Pro #2: No need for lots of furniture

Another plus of renting a studio: There’s not much space to fill, so you don’t need to spend a fortune on furniture. That’s great if you’re trying to save money or don’t want to rack up debt.

Pro #3: Easy maintenance

It can take an entire day to clean my current house from top to bottom. On the other hand, when I lived in my studio, I spent about 45 minutes a week cleaning -- there just wasn’t that much space to clean. If you have a busy schedule, renting a studio is a good way to avoid sinking time into home maintenance.

Con #1: You’ll feel more cramped

Of course, renting a studio has its drawbacks. The most obvious one is not having a lot of space. If you’re stuck home for a day, there’s a good chance you’ll start to feel claustrophobic by mid-morning. Consider yourself warned.

Con #2: You may need to rent a storage unit

If you’re moving from a larger space to a studio, an inevitable question will likely arise: What will you do with all of your stuff? If that stuff is valuable and you’re not willing to donate or sell it for pennies on the dollar, you may need to bear the cost of renting a storage unit. If your goal in renting a studio is to save money, you may not appreciate that added expense.

Con #3: Hosting guests becomes difficult

When a couple of my college friends asked to crash with me in NYC for a week, I was thrilled to host them -- until they showed up and I realized I barely had space for a twin air mattress on the floor. If you have friends or family who live out of town and are likely to visit often, know that you may have trouble hosting in a studio. And you can pretty much forget about privacy when you have company.

There are plenty of good reasons to rent a studio, particularly if you’re moving to a large city where rent is ridiculously expensive. Just be aware of the drawbacks involved before you sign a lease.

Also, be aware that not all studios are created equal. Some, like the one I rented, come with a separate kitchen area so you’re not forced to sleep with your head against your refrigerator. The right layout can make studio living far more pleasant, so keep that in mind as you go about your search.

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