How Much Apartment Space $1,500 Will Get You In Your City

If you were able to afford a monthly rent of $1,500 for a one-bedroom apartment, the size of that space would vary dramatically depending on where you live. In an effort to illustrate just how great that disparity actually is, RENTCafe released a new report comparing apartment sizes in the 100 most populated U.S. cities.


For the most part, the report confirms the real estate cliche: "location, location, location." Living in a coastal metropolis like San Francisco means seriously adjusting your expectations in terms of apartment size — because for $1,500 a month, you're looking at 342-square-feet of space on average. Compare that to Wichita, Kansas, where the same amount of money will land you an almost 2,000-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment.

You can use this helpful interactive chart, which contains squares representing the proportional size of a one-bedroom in each city, to do your own comparisons.


While the graphics are illuminating, the rent figure of $1,500 utilized by the study is one that it's increasingly out of reach for low-income and middle-income Americans. As a 2016 report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition found, "in only twelve counties and one metropolitan area is the prevailing minimum wage sufficient to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment." And, as Julián Castro, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), noted in the preface to the report, "it’s not just people of very modest means who are working harder to make ends meet. Last year, rising rents in a number of cities outpaced the rate of inflation, which is hurting low- and moderate income Americans."


So while it may be a fun experiment for some to visualize the differences between $1,500 apartment sizes, the reality is that millions of Americans — including the 2.6 million earning incomes at or below the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) — are working with much more restrictive budgets. For perspective, here's a sample of the square footage you'd be looking at if the apartments were priced according to the Fair Market Value, using RENTCafe's handy conversion calculator.


You can read the full report from RENTCafe here.