I was helping a friend search for an apartment when she asked what the difference between a studio, single, bachelor, efficiency and junior one bedroom were, along with a loft and loft style apartment. I realized it was important to explain the differences, but told her that some apartment owners and management companies do not know, which means some for rent ads may not reflect the correct type of apartment for rent. Regardless, this is a guide to apartment unit terminology:
Just as it sounds, a studio apartment is one room. Usually there is no separation between the kitchen and the living/sleeping space. The kitchen is usually located on one of the walls and has a compact oven/stove top and full size fridge — if a refrigerator is included with the unit. Typically, a studio apartment is small, anywhere from 300-600 square feet. The bathroom is also separate from the room.
Some owners do not know the difference between a single and studio apartment. Many times, the two are used interchangeably. However, by definition, a single is an apartment that has a separate space for living/sleeping and the kitchen. If there is a wall with an entrance to the kitchen, the unit is a single. A single may have compact or full size appliances. A separate bathroom is included in a single apartment. Usually singles have the same square footage as studios, approximately 300-600 square feet.
The main difference between a studio and single is a wall between the kitchen, but if a lack of a wall defines a studio, what makes a bachelor, a bachelor? A bachelor, also known as an efficiency, is a room with a kitchenette appliance located along a wall. A kitchenette appliance is a compact unit that normally has a sink, stove top with one or two burners, mini-fridge and possibly a microwave. Think of a bachelor apartment as a hotel room, but with a kitchenette appliance attached to a wall. There is a separate bathroom. A bachelor is usually the smallest of apartments most of the time under 500 square feet.
Junior One Bedroom
When I first moved to Los Angeles, I came across an apartment term I was unfamiliar with — a junior one bedroom. I could not figure out how a one bedroom apartment was junior, until I saw one with my own eyes. A junior one bedroom is an apartment that has a half or full wall separating the sleeping area from the living area. The bedroom is small, usually only large enough to fit a bed and possibly a small dresser. A junior one bedroom was probably a single or studio apartment at one time. The unit most likely had an alcove that the apartment owner decided to separate the living and sleeping space with a wall. A junior one bedroom has a separate wall and normally has full size appliances.
A popular type of apartment in Downtown Los Angeles is the loft. A loft has usually been converted from an industrial space, has high ceilings and has a large living space. A true loft usually has ceilings that are over 15 feet and sometimes contain a separate sleeping area, lofted above the living/work space. A 2,000-square-foot loft will feel much larger than a 2,000-square-foot apartment because it has no walls separating the space, except for the bathroom.
Many developers began building loft style apartments in Downtown Los Angeles and Marina del Rey, which meant the apartments had higher ceilings than conventional apartments, usually 11 plus feet high and open living areas. However, loft style apartments are sometimes no different than large studio apartments with high ceilings.
Searching for an apartment is not easy, however, understanding the different terminology can help save you time. If you know what you want, you can limit your search to that type of apartment. Keep in mind that not all owners or management companies know the difference between the types of apartments, so ask questions when you are on the phone for clarification, which will save you a lot of time and frustration.
Mike Heayn is a Real Estate Investor and Commercial Loan Consultant, specializing in Multi-Family Lending. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.