Report: In a world of shrinking apartments, SF’s rentals have grown

Apartments under construction in San Francisco's Sunset District.
Apartments under construction in San Francisco's Sunset District.
Mark Prado

San Francisco has built larger apartments in the last 10 years, despite being known for having some of the most cramped apartments in the country, according to a new report from RentCafe.

That's in contrast to many other parts of the nation where the average size of newly built apartments decreased by 54 square feet — from 941 square in 2013 to 887 in 2022.     

According to the report:   

  • San Francisco renters gained an extra 52 square feet of apartment space compared to 10 years prior.  
  • The increase in apartment size, however, was not enough to knock San Francisco out from the list of cities with the smallest new apartments delivered in the last 10 years. The city ranks 6th with an average unit of 741 square feet, similar to places like Manhattan or Washington, D.C or. Seattle tops the list, offering renters just close to 660 square feet.  
  • Despite the upward trend of the last decade, future apartments in San Francisco are going in the opposite direction. So far, units under construction have an average size of 591 square feet, the 2nd smallest number after Spokane (under 500 square feet). 

“One possible reason why new apartments got bigger in larger markets is the considerable share of more spacious two- and three-bedroom units being built — between 25% and 30%," said Adina Dragos, research analyst with RentCafe. "Most of these apartments also fell under the definition of high-end, which implies larger unit configurations.”

Apartment Chart


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