What is an Efficiency Apartment?

What is an Efficiency Apartment

Describing a person or a business as efficient is a meaningful compliment. After all, using time well while maximizing efficiency is impressive. What about an efficiency? Are they similarly impressive? Efficiency apartments certainly have their positives and are a good place to call home, depending on the renter’s needs.

What is an Efficiency Apartment?

The specifics of what is in an efficiency apartment vary. However, there is a consensus on the basics.

An efficiency apartment has an open floor plan. All the main living spaces – living room, kitchen, and bedroom – are together. The only room with a door is the bathroom (some only have a shared bathroom in a common area of the building). Imagine a hotel room.

Efficiencies are small. They can be as small as 250 square feet and are rarely about 600 square feet.

Because they are so small, the included elements are small. Instead of a full-size kitchen, an efficiency has a kitchenette. There will be fewer appliances, and those there will be small. For example, they typically have a mini-fridge, small sinks, minimal counter space, and a small range (think only one or two burners)

Efficiency apartments that have a bathroom may have a shower only (no bath). There’s also limited counter space.

what does an efficiency apartment look like

What Does Efficiency Apartment Look Like?

Some efficiencies have half-walls or other ways to create separations between the spaces. However, a completely open floor plan is more typical. The open floor plan gives efficiencies an airy look.

The only door you’ll find in an efficiency (other than the front door) is to the bathroom. Some efficiencies do have closets. To best utilize the minimal amount of space in an efficiency, go up. For example, some may include murphy beds. Think less space and more function.

If you are in an efficiency, you are probably in a densely populated city such as Boston, New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. That’s because this is where they are commonly found as land is more expensive and less available. Some convert their garages, basements, or attics into efficiency apartments.

Efficiency Apartment vs. Studio Apartment

Does this sound like a studio apartment? Well, efficiencies and studios have many similarities as well as some distinct differences.

The most significant difference is size. While studio apartments also feature an open floor plan, they may be up to 1000 square feet or more. In a studio, the open floor plan may be a design decision and not just a way to minimize space.

Along these lines, the kitchen and bathroom in a studio are full-size. They include the standard appliances, counter space, full bath, etc., found in apartments. The kitchen is often separate from the other living space in a studio.

Studios are in locations across the country. They are also more expensive since they are bigger and have more features. Of course, other factors, including location, impact the monthly rental fee.

Studios commonly have lofts or high ceilings. This adds to the spaciousness of a studio.

advantages of an efficiency apartment

Advantages of an Effiency Apartment

The biggest advantage of an efficiency apartment is the price. They are generally the cheapest apartments on the apartment. The small size also means other costs, such as utility bills, furnishings, etc. are also minimal. So, for those who want to live on their own but have a limited budget, an efficiency can work.

It’s easy to maintain an efficiency. With limited space, there’s less room for clutter and mess. Tenants need to be efficient and minimalist to live comfortably in an efficiency. The minimalist ways mean cleaning the space can be done quickly.

For those who dream of living among the bright lights of the big city, efficiencies are an opportunity. Because of their relatively low rental costs, more people can choose to live anywhere – even in the downtown of a big city.

Disadvantages of an Effiency Apartment

Efficiency apartments are not for everyone.

The limited size means it’s challenging to decorate and furnish. Everything has to be small as the space will quickly become overcrowded. Finding the right furniture might take more than a quick internet search. Furniture that is customized or atypical tends to be more expensive.

For those tenants who are not complete loners, they may want to entertain periodically. It’s hard to do so in an efficiency. The mini kitchen makes cooking/preparing food for more than one a challenge. There are few places to sit in an efficiency. Even having overnight guests for any length of time can be a challenge. With few closets (or none), space for extras is near nil.

Efficiency apartments are not always the best built. The walls separating units may be thin. Combined with the tight spaces that they are usually housed in (as well as being in crowded cities), efficiencies are not typically quiet spaces.

Notice anything missing from an efficiency apartment? Yup, there are no laundry facilities. They may be in the building’s common space. If not, tenants have to take their clothes to an offsite laundry facility which is a time-consuming hassle.


An efficiency apartment does not work for all. If one requires excess space, is a pack rat, enjoys making elaborate meals, and insists on regularly hosting others, then efficiency apartments are not the way to go.

However, an efficiency apartment is a good option for a person who wants their own space but has a limited budget. If a person is willing to adopt a minimalist mindset and be okay with limitations, they could be quite comfortable in an efficiency is to be and to. Another benefit – they may be living in an area that they dreamed about.

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