Where in the U.S. Can You Get the Most Square Feet Per Person?

Written by Carly Hallman

It’s no secret that the biggest cities often offer less square footage compared to the amount of living space in other locations. The New York City metropolitan area in particular is known for its small apartments rented out for incredible amounts of money. Are you planning on moving soon and wondering how many square feet per person you can get? We gathered data on the median residential square feet per person in 55 metropolitan areas in the United States.

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According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of square feet per person is computed by dividing the square footage of a housing unit by the number of people living there. A housing unit is defined as “a house, apartment, group of rooms, or single room occupied or intended for occupancy as separate living quarters.” The median square footage per person is rounded to the nearest foot.

Areas With the Most and Least Square Feet per Person

These are the ten metropolitan areas in the U.S. with the largest median amounts of square feet per person:

  1. Memphis, TN-MS-AR: 825
  2. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA: 800
  3. Birmingham-Hoover, AL: 800
  4. New Orleans-Metairie, LA: 800
  5. Richmond, VA: 800
  6. Jacksonville, FL: 800
  7. Baltimore, MD: 790
  8. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV: 788
  9. Orlando, FL: 782
  10. Louis, MO-IL: 777

These are the ten metropolitan areas with the smallest median amounts of square feet per person:

  1. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA: 550
  2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA: 550
  3. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: 575
  4. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA: 580
  5. San Diego, CA: 600
  6. Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA: 600
  7. Anaheim-Santa Ana-Garden Grove, CA: 600
  8. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA: 601
  9. Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA: 650
  10. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL: 650

What’s an Average House, and What Does it Cost?

Wondering what the median house size in the U.S. is? According to the United States Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey, the median square footage of all occupied housing units in the United States is 1,500 square feet. The median amount of space per person is 700 square feet. But housing in the United States varies so much that the average square footage of a house can be dramatically different from one place to the next. From spacious McMansions in suburban areas to tightly packed apartment buildings in big cities, the sizes of housing units can differ greatly.

When you consider the median price per square foot of housing around the country, the contrast is even greater. In Manhattan, the price per square foot is $1,371. Compare that to the median price per square foot of homes in Memphis, which is $69. Depending on where in the country you live, a housing budget of $500,000 could either get you a modest apartment or a spacious family home.

Making the Most of Your Square Footage

Whether you live in a small apartment or are just looking to maximize the space you have, these tips can help your living space look larger and more open:

  • Take advantage of the hidden storage space under kitchen counters, beds, and coffee tables to keep clutter out of the way.
  • Opt for multi-functional furniture pieces, like an ottoman that doubles as a storage chest, to avoid a cluttered look in high-traffic areas.
  • Pay attention to paint color. Bright colors like off-white, gray, and taupe can help reflect light and make a room look bigger and more spacious.
  • Choose tall bookcases and shelves that maximize vertical storage and don’t take up much floor space.
  • Add mirrors to rooms that feel small. Mirrors create the illusion that a space is bigger than it really is and reflect natural light.

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