With apartment rental costs rising all across the country, those looking for a place to live are forced to consider smaller housing accommodations to survive. People are no longer looking for a two-bedroom apartment to have a spare room for guests or a space devoted to business, writing, or exercise. Rather, they’re wondering if they could live in a studio apartment instead of a one-bedroom to save a few hundred bucks a month on rent.
But how do you know which layout is best for you? Before you sign anything, you’ll want to give careful consideration to the pros and cons of each:
The Basic Structural Differences
A one-bedroom apartment has walls that separate rooms. There are distinctive areas for the kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom. Larger one-bedrooms may also have a separate dining area, designated storage space, and/or a small private deck or yard. A studio apartment, on the other hand, is just one big room with a kitchen counter and appliances on one side and a bathroom enclosure with a door (as mandated by US Housing laws). You can fill that big, wall-free room with conventional items like a dining table and chairs, a couch, bed, dresser, and whatever makes you comfortable. Adding room dividers can help create somewhat separate living areas, but it can also make the atmosphere feel forced and crowded. The alternative is living in one big multipurpose room where you eat, sleep, and entertain both yourself and guests.
Depending on the location, square footage, and amenities such as decks and fireplaces, the price difference between a studio and one-bedroom apartment is usually between $300 and $500 a month. If you’re renting in the heart of a bustling city, expect to pay top dollar for both styles, because most renters can either greatly reduce or flat-out eliminate their commute costs and times in such a prime location. Suburb prices are generally lower.
If you’ve always lived in a home with walls, a studio environment can be jarring. That smell of bacon cooking that used to be wonderfully intoxicating may lose its magic when you’re sleeping a few yards from the stove and the aroma lingers through the day and night. Keeping a studio tidy is also challenging because every nook, cranny, table, chair, and bed in it has to be neat and in order for the apartment to look good. People who like to read in bed or update their journal in a quiet room may find having all rooms in one distracting and uncomfortable.
All these aspects of studio living are extremely exaggerated if you have a roommate who keeps the same schedule as you. You literally have no time alone. The joy of strolling around in the buff after a shower is lost, as well as having the privacy to spend time with a romantic partner. You also have to share the kitchen and bathroom and welcome guests of your roommate’s choice despite how you feel about them. All of these trade-offs are fine if you’ve lived with this roommate before and sharing space doesn’t negatively affect either of you. However, if your roommate is completely new to you, expect some dramatic moments to arise over the simplest of issues.
Sharing a one-bedroom apartment is totally different. For starters, the bedroom is private. A good way to fairly share that room is to trade off every six months or so, meaning one person sleeps on a hide-a-bed or plain old couch in the living room during that time. You can also just split the bedroom if it’s large enough to hold a pair of twin beds and you don’t mind sharing sleeping space with another adult every night.
If you can share bedroom space with someone, co-existing in the rest of a one-bedroom apartment should be a breeze. Those walls may seem insignificant, but merely being out of the sight of another person gives a feeling of privacy that’s soothing to the soul.
Two college students sharing either a studio or one-bedroom apartment without conflict is much more feasible than two older people. After all, students share the need for a quiet place to study and typically go to bed before midnight. Slightly older people are more likely to party late into the night and come home in the wee hours of the morning. Mixing these two lifestyles to accommodate the needs of both parties can be challenging. The same applies to even older demographics, who may have lived alone for many years or with a partner who was used to their habits and lifestyle choices. Different habits in cleaning the kitchen, cooking particularly odorous foods, and even lighting and cooling/heating preferences can easily escalate into loud and disturbing interchanges.
Before you sign a lease for a studio or one-bedroom apartment, carefully and honestly consider your wants and needs. To avoid rough patches down the road, have a long discussion with any prospective roommates to see if you two can live together in peace and harmony.