An efficiency apartment is one of the smallest and least expensive apartment rental options on the market. Also called a studio apartment, it's an open space concept design that incorporates the sleeping and living space into one area. The other two main features of an efficiency apartment are an enclosed bathroom and a kitchenette -- a small, open kitchen area. Occasionally, efficiency rentals have no kitchen at all.
The biggest advantage to renting an efficiency apartment is the relatively low cost. The cost savings over a one bedroom apartment can be anywhere from 15 to 30 percent. Energy costs can be slightly lower too. The rental or lease agreement involved can be a standard yearly lease or run from month to month. Even week-to-week rentals on furnished spaces are available in some areas.
Choosing a studio apartment or "efficiency" over another option is typically a cost cutting move, and it won't appeal to everyone. Floor plans can vary significantly from city to city and building to building, as can the number of closets and the overall square footage. Some units may come with additional storage in a basement or garage space too, making them slightly more flexible.
Renters who are just starting out may have fewer belongings and be able to adjust to the limited accommodations best. For recent grads, it may be a particularly good choice. A living space that doesn't need much in the way of furniture may be ideal for a while. Renters who entertain regularly or have accumulated their fair share of stuff may discover that the space is too restrictive.
Making the Most of an Efficiency Apartment
These tips will help renters adjust to efficiency apartment spaces:
- Put up partitions, like screens or shelves, to define living areas. Strategically placed area rugs can help too. A partition can offer privacy in a bedroom or confine clutter to one specific concealed location.
- Create a traffic pattern around the space with paths that are wide enough to make it easy to access all living areas.
- Opt for multi-purpose furniture, like a couch that converts to a bed and a drop leaf table that can seat from two to six with minor adjustments.
- Prefer scaled down furnishings, like dressers and chairs that have a trim profile.
- Use creative storage solutions, like wall shelving, cabinet door racks and stacking boxes or nesting trays.
- Discard and recycle items often. A quarterly overhaul will help keep clutter under control.
- Anticipate your needs. Short of renting a storage unit, the space available in an efficiency apartment is all you're going to get. If you think there's a chance it won't be large enough for the full term of the rental, consider negotiating a shorter term agreement.
Visually, an efficiency apartment can look as sophisticated and appealing as a larger space, but the lack of storage and living area may make it a challenge to live in long term. With some planning and careful decorating, you can make the most of what's available, but this type of space is usually a short stop along a renter's path to a permanent home.
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