1 in 3 renters looking to upsize: Here’s what it will cost them

Above: Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels Real Estate | 21 Jul |

While some workers are gradually returning to offices this summer, many will still be able to do their jobs from home permanently — either full-time or in a hybrid system — and this is true for apartment renters, as well. To learn more about their arrangements, we surveyed more than 20,000 renters on rentcafe.com in May 2021 about working from their apartments and how they were managing in terms of space. What we found was that one-third (33%) of respondents confirmed that they were and would continue to work from home either full- or part-time for the foreseeable future.


READ ALSO: Phoenix ranks No. 6 among hottest multifamily markets


Granted, space has been a persistent challenge for apartment-dwellers in the last year and a half. But, for that one-third, the realization that working from home is now a more permanent set-up has just turned a temporary need for extra space into a long-term necessity.

35% of Apartment Renters are Trading Up

After months of getting creative with their work-from-home set up, the confirmation that the home office is now a permanent fixture has encouraged 35% of WFH apartment-dwellers to upsize their apartment and set up a proper workspace. As you might expect, the most eager to upsize were renters currently living in studios, with a whopping 60% saying they were ready for a change. Similarly, 40% of respondents living in 1-bedroom apartments were also actively looking to upgrade to apartments with two or more bedrooms.


Notably, a considerable share of renters in 2-bedroom apartments want a larger space, as well, with 22% desiring to upgrade. That’s because, according to a recent poll, the biggest challenge for remote workers is the inability to unplug and separate the professional from the personal. And, not having a dedicated room for work that you could just leave at the end of the day can certainly make disconnecting considerably more difficult.

Price of Upgrading Comparable to Average Commute Cost

Nationally, upgrading to a larger apartment costs 24% more per month, on average, based on our analysis of rents in all types of apartments. This means that, regardless of the size of the apartment you live in — either a studio, or a 1- or 2-bedroom — you’re likely to pay an average of $337 for that extra room. Therefore, considering that the average commuting cost can be $417 per month, you can technically use the money saved on transportation to upgrade and add that much-needed dedicated workspace. However, your home city might be different.

Use the calculator below to find out how much money you could pay or save if you rent a larger apartment in your preferred city.

Cities with Lowest Upgrading Costs

To determine where you can upgrade your apartment and get an extra bedroom for the least financial effort, we compared the percentage difference in rent in the 100 largest cities. A few highlights are listed below:

If you live in Modesto, CA or Stockton, CA you’re in luck. The two cities share the crown as the least expensive locations if you want to upsize your apartment. Here, upgrading will increase your monthly rent by only 11%. This translates to an average of $148 more per month in Modesto and $131 more in Stockton — or the average price of a three-course meal for two people.

Likewise, upgrading your apartment in Memphis, TN costs just 12% more, adding an average of $104 to your rent, to be more exact. What’s more, this is actually lower than the average monthly transportation cost in the city ($185). So, in addition to repurposing the time spent on commuting, you would also be able to redirect your money toward getting more square footage.

Cities with Highest Upgrading Costs

It’s not news that life in a big city can be pricey — and so can large apartments. Consequently, the highest financial effort to upgrade an apartment (by percentage) was noted the top 3 largest cities in the U.S. The most extreme example (to no one’s surprise) is, of course, New York. If you live in Manhattan, for instance, it will cost you 43% more in rent to get that extra room — which translates into a net $1,592 in extra rent per month. If that gives you a sticker shock, you might just consider staying put and finding some other creative solution to squeeze in a workspace.

On the other side of the country, life in the city of celebrities doesn’t come cheap, either. Specifically, in Los Angeles, you can only get that much-needed home office space if you’re able to pay 39% more in rent (or $923). However, strolling on the Santa Monica Pier whenever you feel like it or spotting Leonardo DiCaprio at a game at Dodger Stadium — priceless!

Thinking of upgrading in Chicago? While the Windy City is not quite as pricey as New York or LA, the percentage difference in price to upgrade by one bedroom here is the third-highest in the U.S. — a price jump of 38% or $646 extra per month. Seattle ties Chicago in third place — also a 38% price difference or $706 more per month.

The Extra Monthly Cost to Upsize Your Apartment in Metro Phoenix

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