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Efficiency Apartment vs. Studio Apartment – Unraveling the Differences

The biggest difference between an efficiency apartment and a studio apartment is size. Efficiency apartments are smaller with a combined living and sleeping space and a tiny kitchenette, while studio apartments offer more square footage and a larger, separate kitchen area.

The Difference Between an Efficiency Apartment and a Studio Apartment 1

Looking for a cozy, compact, and budget-friendly place to call home? As you plunge into the real estate market seeking the perfect small apartment, you're bound to stumble across myriad terms. Among these, 'efficiency apartments' and 'studio apartments' crop up frequently, often leaving home seekers confused. But don't fret; this article will guide you through the primary differences between an efficiency apartment and a studio apartment, allowing you to make an informed decision.

Although they may appear similar at a glance, an efficiency apartment and a studio apartment vary significantly in terms of size, functionality, and design. To ensure you find your ideal living space, it's crucial to understand these differences.

Efficiency Apartment vs Studio Apartment

small bedroom with dinning room

efficiency apartment with kitchinette

Size of the Apartment

As mentioned above, size plays a major role in determining the type of apartment you’re actually looking for. Efficiency apartments are much smaller than studio apartments though the number of rooms is the same in both kinds of living spaces. Also, the apartments include the living and the sleeping areas as well as the kitchen, everything within this given little space. And of course, there’s also a private bathroom enclosed.

Efficiency apartments are a hit amongst the bachelors and spinsters, thus gaining the alias bachelor pads. They’re usually one small room, which serves as the living space for the occupant. There’s also a small tiny kitchenette in the apartment along with a separate bathroom, although the appliances might not be as big as the ones you use in the bigger houses.

small studio with desk, living and bedroom in one

Whereas studio apartments, on the other hand, are a little bigger as mentioned above; yet, like efficient apartments, they too have a living space and sleeping space combined into one single room and a separate bathroom. Some of them might even have a small alcove or a loft, which I will explain in detail, later in the article. But unlike the former, most studios have a separate kitchen with fully functional large equipment.

small efficiency apartment with all the amenities in one room


Square Footage

According to a website called apartmentratings.com, both Studios and efficient apartments are typically under 500 square feet, and are meant to be for a single person most of the time, especially the efficient ones! Going a step further, Pierce-Eislen, an apartment market research firm has stated that the size of studio apartments is usually between 350 and 425 square feet, while efficiency is much more compact than the studio. Some studio apartments are also made by converting large warehouses and industrial areas into large-roomed living spaces.

living room with small kitchenette in efficiency apartment

Design and layout

The housing law of the United States requires the bathroom to be separated from the rest of the house, and that is the sole reason both efficient apartments and studios have the washrooms as the only space detached from the rest of the house, except for a few instances in larger studio apartments. While the bedroom, living room, and kitchen are all submerged into a single space.

gray micro apartment with little to no compartmentalization

Kitchen Space

Since the living and sleeping spaces are almost similar and have no major difference, we could talk about something else that might help you distinguish between a studio and an efficiency apartment so you could make the right decision as to what to go with, and that’s the difference in the kitchen spaces.

As you already know, efficiency apartments have kitchenettes, as opposed to fully functional kitchens. They typically contain a common setup which contains a wall of appliances and a small counter space. These appliances, are smaller than the usual ones, like a mini fridge, a small sink, and a stove with only one, or two burners at most. The counter is also just small enough, probably more to heat up meals or cook dinners for one, rather than a full-fledged dinner. And sometimes, these kitchenettes might only have a hot plate and not a stove or an oven. So, if you’re just home after a long day at work and want to warm up a meal, and spend a night cozily all by yourself, it’s just gonna be perfect.

micro kitchen in small efficiency apartment

Coming to the studio apartments, you might not be able to have a grand feast and eat here, but it’s pretty comparable when compared to that of an efficiency apartment. These kitchens have a fully functional refrigerators and appliances that are perfect enough to whip up a good meal.

small kitchen open to the living room

Number of Inhabitants

It is obvious that both kinds or apartments are majorly meant for single occupancy, there might be a few exceptions, depending on the comfort and convenience of people who’d like to share the space.

However, efficiency apartments are those little houses that you would most definitely not want to share with someone else, as it gets extremely crowded, even for two. So, it is perfect for those who love their solitude and want a space all to themselves, without any disturbance from a roommate or a partner.

one room fits all in a small white efficiency apartment

Studio apartments, on the other hand, can be shared with a friend, a partner, or even a roommate who is comfortable with sharing a single room with you; especially when they are larger. Studios are perfect for those who would want to live simply, and cook their own meals, but just something basic and not extravagant.

living in one room, efficiency studio design

Price of the Apartments

Pricing is not necessarily a distinguishing factor between the studios and efficiencies, but the latter might be a little cheaper than the other. However, the pricing may also vary based on the area the apartment is located, its size, and the interiors of the house.

small apartment with cantilevered bed,

Also, there are certain upgrades to this kind of house, depending on the place they are constructed, and the neighborhood. If you are looking for something small, but upscale, you would probably want to go with a loft studio, or maybe a luxury efficiency apartment.

Loft Studios

Loft studios are a kind of studio apartments, only with a high ceiling, and some industrial features like exposed beams, ductwork, or large windows. These are often quite large and found in upscale areas, and are much more expensive than the usual studios. They can also have a huge kitchen area and a loft with sleeping space, a guest room, or even a small personal office, which can often be accessed through stairs. It can also accommodate more than two people, unlike the usual studio apartments.

floating bed above a desk in a really small apartment

Luxury Efficiency Apartments

Luxury efficiencies are a new trend on the rise, in the world of real estate these days. While regular efficiencies are small and affordable, these luxury efficiencies can scale up to 1200 square feet and can be really spacious, luxurious, and of course, expensive.

one room with bed, lounge, kitchen and sofa

Design and Decoration

Since space plays a major role in both studios and efficiency apartments, designing and decoration can often be quite a challenge to this kind of places. However, if done properly, this could make a perfect abode for you to live in.

Even though you cannot have luxurious and elaborate pieces of furniture, you don’t necessarily have to give up on your comfort. And if you can put some thought into it, you can even incorporate some style and character to the comfort.

The best way to decorate the spaces could be incorporating two or more things into one, like couches with armrests converted into side tables, beds with storage spaces or really small dining spaces, that could be enough for one, or two people at the most.

bed/sofa in efficiency apartment

Other Considerations

Size and style of the kitchen are of course the most important things when choosing from a studio and efficacy, but they are not the only reasons. You might even want to consider the area where the house is located along with the price. As mentioned above, some studio apartments are converted from warehouses and industrial areas in upscale parts of the cities, which can be larger and more expensive. But there might also be efficiencies in the posh areas. Similarly, studio apartments can also be in the run-down parts of the city, which could bring the price a lot lower.

small apartment filled with light offering living room, desk area and bedroom in one place

In addition to that, studios mostly come with all the furnishing, interiors, and all the utilities which might be included in the cost, whereas in the efficiencies, these utilities might come at an additional cost, which could increase your expenses.

Both kinds of apartments are highly functional for a single person to stay, but if decorated perfectly, most of the furniture comes with multiple purposes. However, it might not be an ideal place to stay if there are guests coming over.

When choosing between efficiency and studio apartments, it's essential to consider soundproofing quality. From a soundproofing standpoint, both types of apartments have similar potential, as the difference lies in the building materials and construction techniques utilized. The effectiveness of sound insulation is determined by the quality of the materials used, rather than the apartment type itself. To ensure a comfortable living experience, it is important to prioritize proper soundproofing to reduce noise from neighbors and external sources. For effective acoustic solutions for any apartment type, explore this comprehensive guide on apartment wall soundproofing.

one room with small kitchenette, bedroom, living room in industrial vintage

Now, you do know the major differences between an efficient apartment and a studio apartment. So, when you are on the search for an ideal place, do pay close attention to what you are looking for, and don’t let the realtors or the market ads fool you. Just make a mental note or a written list of what you need, take into consideration the space (especially the kitchen) as well as the neighborhood where the apartment is located, and choose wisely. Also, keep in mind that large urban areas have the tendency to call them all studio apartments, regardless of the fact behind their specifications or actual terms!

Happy House-hunting!