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What Is a Studio Apartment? The Pros and Cons of Studio Life

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Whether it's called a studio apartment, bachelor apartment, efficiency apartment, or studio flat, the answer to the question "What is a studio apartment?" remains the same: It's a self-contained living unit with the bedroom, living room, and kitchen all in a single open space.

That's right -- a studio apartment allows (or requires) you to do all your living, eating, and sleeping in one room with no barrier walls. But you don't have to do absolutely everything in the same room. A studio should have a separate room with a door for the bathroom. If it doesn't, it might be illegal to rent in some states.

To people following the tiny-house movement, the virtues of studio apartments are many and obvious. But for those with a ton of possessions who are used to having more room to stretch out, studio life might be a little tight.

The advantages of studio apartments

"Moving into a studio apartment can be a great way to save money on rent without getting a roommate or settling for a less-than-desirable neighborhood," says Niccole Schreck, a rental experience expert. "You could save on your monthly rent as much as $924 in Denver, $867 in New York City, $500 in Los Angeles, and $427 in Minneapolis by choosing a studio over a one-bedroom apartment."

That's a lot of cheddar. Another financial advantage of the studio apartment? Utility bills will likely be lower. A small space is cheaper to heat and cool, and the entire unit could be illuminated with a single light placed in a strategic location. Also, there's not a lot of room for a bunch of gadgets to sit around sucking up energy.

And cleaning the place is a snap, according to many studio apartment dwellers. Since there's little room for clutter, it's a lot easier to clean and maintain. Of course, you will need to find a place to stash the few cleaning products you'll need.

The challenges of studio apartments

But there are a few drawbacks as well.

"Living in a studio while I was a proud, single cat lady was so much fun. It was super easy to keep clean. I didn't have to spend a fortune to decorate it well, and the rent and utilities were affordable," says Erica D. House, a lifestyle expert and blogger. "Once I got married, I couldn't fathom living with my husband in less than 500 square feet! We both like our alone time to veg out and do what we'd like to on our own, and that would have been impossible while living in a studio."

When House moved into a studio apartment, she had to get rid of at least 50% of her possessions -- plus, she had to think twice about her purchases. Would there be room in the closet for that shirt? Room on the shelf for that book? She considered the constraint a mixed blessing.

Some studio apartment dwellers get around the lack of storage space by renting a storage unit -- although the cost of storage might mitigate the financial benefits of renting a studio apartment in the first place.

But for those who are willing to streamline their lives and spend less time and money maintaining their living space, the studio apartment could be just the thing! They don't call them efficiency apartments for nothing.

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