Studio vs One-Bedroom Apartment Renting: What's the Difference?

Learn what differentiates a studio from a one-bedroom apartment rental

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If you're planning to rent an apartment alone, you may be trying to decide whether you want to live in a studio or a one-bedroom apartment. You may even find that the two terms are used interchangeably because of an added architectural element that could technically carve out a bedroom in the space.

Both types of apartments are very popular for single renters and each one has its advantages. Sometimes, a studio or one-bedroom can be almost the same size, but may vary substantially in your monthly payment. It pays to know the pros and cons of each type of apartment rental before you make a choice.

What Is a Studio?

A studio apartment is a compact all-in-one room apartment, except the bathroom, which is in a separate space. Within the large one room you will have a kitchenette, which is a limited kitchen space without any separating walls.

There are two specialty types of studio apartments that may cost a bit more than a standard studio. An alcove studio will have a nook for a bed that you can curtain off. Another type of studio is called a junior one-bedroom apartment, which is considered an upgraded studio apartment. It is not to be confused with a true one-bedroom apartment. A junior one-bedroom apartment can have a partially-installed or permanent wall placed somewhere to divide the bed from the rest of the space. However, the sleeping area of a junior one-bedroom apartment is not an enclosed space, and it may not have a window, either.

Depending on the geographical location of where you're looking for a rental, a studio apartment can run as small as 300 square feet or as large as over 1,000 square feet. Studios and one-bedrooms in dense urban areas tend to run smaller than those in less crowded suburban areas.

People who rent a studio apartment enjoy paying less rent each month, which translates to significant savings year after year. The simple floor plan of a studio makes it comparatively easy to decorate, and it doesn't require as much furniture to achieve the feeling of being "settled in." Studios are ideal for renters who don't have many belongings that they need to display or keep handy in their apartment.

What Is a One-Bedroom Apartment?

A one-bedroom apartment has a distinct and separate bedroom. A one-bedroom rental may also have an extra closet or two. However, again depending on your geographical location, a one-bedroom apartment may have the same square footage as a studio apartment rental.

One-bedroom apartments attract renters who desire more space and multiple rooms in their apartment. Having a separate bedroom is good for renters who like to do much entertaining or who have guests spend the night (they can sleep with greater privacy ​on the sofa in the other room). Also, if you telecommute, you may prefer to spend the workday in a different room than the one in which you sleep each night, for a change of scenery.

When to Choose a Studio Over a One-Bedroom

Some renters who can afford a one-bedroom apartment decide they would prefer, or at least wouldn't mind, living in a studio. There are many benefits to living in a studio. You can potentially save on utility costs because you won't have to heat or light separate areas, if that is a separate cost from the rent. In addition, you can add your own separate bedroom using creative methods, such as partitioning it off with curtains or a tall bookcase. However, you won't pay the extra price as you would a one-bedroom rental.

If this is your situation, consider hunting for a studio but budgeting more for your rental. For example, look for a larger studio in a premier location that offers excellent views of your city or a nearby park or lake, or in a building that offers more amenities.

Deciding between renting a studio apartment or a one-bedroom unit boils down to thinking of a one-bedroom apartment as an upgrade (since it costs more) and deciding whether the upgrade is worth it to you. One-bedroom apartments offer certain benefits in return for the higher rent. For example, a one-bedroom apartment may have more amenities, such as a larger kitchen and washer/dryer hook-ups. But these benefits aren't always valuable to every renter.

Studio
  • Less expensive

  • Smaller

  • Less amenities

  • No walls, no privacy

One-Bedroom
  • More expensive

  • Potentially larger

  • More amenities

  • More walls, more privacy