What is an efficiency apartment?

Are you’re pondering whether to rent an efficiency or a studio? We can help.

Editorial Team

By Editorial Team

an efficiency apartment

If you’re preparing to relocate, you are likely considering a variety of different living arrangements. Many people who move to a new city alone opt for a studio or an efficiency apartment. After all, these smaller units are usually more affordable than larger apartments.

But what exactly distinguishes an efficiency apartment from a studio? Although efficiencies and studios have a lot in common, there are some key differences that can make or break your lifestyle.

Studios are common around the world, but efficiency apartments are actually more rare. You will find them mostly in big cities like London, Paris, New York City, and Los Angeles. That means that if you’re planning to move to a medium-sized city or even a big city with a large geographic footprint you are not likely to find any efficiencies to rent.

Whenever you’re looking to relocate, it’s important to do plenty of research. In addition to scoping out cities and considering the pros and cons of various neighborhoods, you have to decide what type of housing you prefer.

Here’s our complete guide to efficiency apartments, including the differences between an efficiency and a studio. We’ll also cover some of the pros and cons of renting efficiency apartments. That way, you can choose the ideal housing situation for your particular needs.

Read on for everything you ever wanted to know about how to rent an efficiency apartment.

What is the difference between an efficiency apartment and a studio apartment?

Studios and efficiencies have a lot in common. In fact, they’re so similar that it’s common to hear the terms used interchangeably.

Both studios and efficiency apartments have single-room layouts. Many, but not all, of these apartments have enclosed bathrooms.

If you’re living in either an efficiency or a studio, your bedroom and living room are the same room. (Of course, it’s possible to use bookcases, curtains, and shoji screens to block off separate “rooms” in your space.)

The biggest difference between a studio and an efficiency apartment has to do with the kitchen.

kitchen in a studio vs an efficiency apartment

Studio apartments have full kitchens, including a refrigerator, an oven with stove-top burners, and a sink.

However, efficiency apartments are equipped with kitchenettes rather than full kitchens. The meaning of the term kitchenette can vary. Your new efficiency kitchen might be a tiny galley or a humble hot plate.

It’s worth noting that studios are usually – but not always! – slightly larger than efficiency apartments. (The bathroom in an efficiency may be a bit smaller than a studio bathroom as well.) For this reason, you can expect to pay slightly more for a studio apartment than an efficiency.

Benefits of living in an efficiency

There are a number of benefits to choosing an efficiency apartment!

The biggest draw is likely cost savings. Efficiencies are usually located in a city’s central business district but are priced much more affordably than one- and two-bedroom apartments.

Renting an efficiency apartment is a great way to live in an elegant neighborhood without breaking the bank.

Of course, it’s important to recognize that you will be trading off in terms of personal space. It’s a good rule of thumb to consider that the typical efficiency apartment is about the size of a hotel room.

work area in an efficiency apartment

Another key benefit of living in an efficiency is simplicity. You won’t have room for much furniture, and may even choose a futon or Murphy bed in place of a traditional bedframe and mattress. This saves time on shopping and decorating, as well as money.

That being said, you can also save time and money on tricking out your new apartment by choosing a furnished rental over a year-long lease.

Because you will live in a smaller space with an efficiency apartment, your electric bill will also be lower than if you lived in a one- or two-bedroom apartment in the same location.

Downsides to living in an efficiency

The biggest drawback to an efficiency apartment is having limited living space. In general, efficiencies are even smaller than studios.

Many studio apartments are quite large or have built in lofts to make them feel more spacious. Efficiencies, on the other hand, are generally just rooms with a bathroom.

Living in an efficiency apartment can feel a lot like staying in a hotel room.

lack of privacy in an efficiency apartment

This leads to another disadvantage: lack of privacy. If you will be living alone, this isn’t an issue. However, living in an efficiency apartment with a friend or partner could put a strain on the relationship.

Finally, if you love to cook, an efficiency apartment is probably not the best choice. When you have a kitchenette rather than a full kitchen you are limited to simple recipes. You may not even be able to cook on more than one burner at a time!

Is an efficiency apartment right for you?

Whether or not you would enjoy living in an efficiency apartment is all about the balance of pros and cons.

If you never cook but love trying out the latest hot restaurant, an efficiency apartment might be ideal for you. After all, you can set aside what you save on rent to spend at the new Thai place on the corner.

However, if you tend to cook for yourself more than a few times a week, you will likely want to upgrade to a studio or even a one-bedroom apartment.

Similarly, if you don’t have a lot of possessions and plan to live alone, an efficiency can be the perfect choice. But anyone who is moving to a new city with a roommate, friend, or romantic partner needs to realize that living in super tight quarters isn’t recommended.

Bottom line, efficiency apartments are best for solo dwellers who don’t plan on cooking all of their meals in their own kitchen.

Consider the points above to decide whether an efficiency apartment meets your needs. Remember, location isn’t everything.

If you have decided that an efficiency is right up your alley, read on for some tips about how to find one.

How to find a great efficiency

Step one to finding the perfect efficiency apartment is making sure that they actually exist in your target housing market. Remember, efficiencies are only found in large cities. If you are moving to a small- or medium-sized city, you may not be able to find one.

That being said, because the terms studio and efficiency are often confused, it’s worth checking out studios in every market.

a hip efficiency apartment

Many landlords and brokers who are actually renting out efficiencies will label them as studios or even junior one-bedrooms in order to garner more interest. While you can’t exactly blame them, it’s fine to point out during an apartment tour that the unit is an efficiency, not a studio.

If you are shown an efficiency apartment that is priced as high as a studio or a one-bedroom, that is not the home for you!

The easiest way to find an efficiency in your new city is by searching major websites like Apartments.com, StreetEasy, and even Craigslist. You may need to check the box for a studio apartment and then use keywords to further filter results to efficiency apartments.

Remember, the easiest way to distinguish a true efficiency apartment from a studio is to look at the kitchen. You should be able to tell whether an apartment contains a full kitchen or a kitchenette just by looking at photos online.

Hint: if there’s a mini fridge instead of a full-sized refrigerator, the apartment is definitely an efficiency!

Putting it all together

Whether you choose an efficiency apartment or a studio for your next home, we hope this guide was helpful!

As you’re pondering whether to rent an efficiency or a studio, you should also consider whether you want to deal with the commitment of a year-long lease.

view from an efficiency apartment

Whether you opt for an efficiency apartment or something a little bigger, flexibility makes things a whole lot easier. Blueground’s furnished rental apartments around the world are ideal for digital nomads and world explorers. After all, don’t you want to rent on your schedule and not at a landlord’s convenience?

All of our turnkey apartments in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America let you feel at home and free to roam. Our stylish homes have everything you need to live well, from appliances and kitchenware to furniture and linens.

Editorial Team

Editorial Team

The Blueground editorial team covers the best things to see, do, and experience in our cities around the world.