Get Cozy: Walls are Closing in on Today’s Renters

Turns out, there’s a good reason minimalism and Marie Kondo have grown such a large following among today’s renters. When it comes to space, renters are getting less bang for their buck these days.

Our latest analysis found that a renter would need to find a home 15 percent smaller than they would have five years ago to keep the same monthly rent payment. That amounts to 225 square feet lost – equivalent to losing a 14-by-16-foot living room, or nearly two 10-by-12-foot bedrooms.

Among the 50 largest rental markets in the country, the shrinking effect was most pronounced in Sacramento, San Francisco and San Jose – a renter paying the current median rent payment in each of these markets could have found a unit with at least 475 square feet more space in 2014.

Nationally, rent affordability has made some marginal improvements over the past five years – but while incomes have grown fast enough to allow the typical renter to better afford their rent payment, the space available to them at that price has decreased. And as the rental market gains momentum, rent costs per square foot will likely follow suit.

Further compounding the issue is that rental units in new construction have gotten smaller and smaller. One way to help ease these space constraints is to take advantage of the common areas popular in many new buildings, including entertaining guests on the rooftop deck or lounge, and exercising in a shared fitness center if there is not enough space in your bedroom or living room.

To see where renters have lost the most space in the last five years, check out the table below.