Chicago Real Estate Statistics: Bedroom sizes in Chicago Apartments

Stack of mattresses showing comparative sizes

My, what a large mattress you've got!

Queen and King size beds were invented in the late 1950’s. Before that time, a full size mattress was the largest you could purchase. According to City Data, the median construction date for houses in Chicago is 1949, and for apartments it’s 1944. This means that the vast majority of the housing stock for both home buyers and renters was not built to house modern mattresses, let alone large beds with frames that extend beyond the mattress boundaries.

While some homeowners and landlords in Chicago have rearranged walls and in many cases, re-purposed old dining rooms into additional bedrooms with the addition of doors and closets, it certainly feels like most north side bedrooms will only fit a twin bed, or at most, a full size mattress.  I decided to do some analysis and see if this is true.

For each of the charts below, I used a benchmark of four times the area of each standard mattress size as a “comfortable fit.” So, for a bedroom to comfortably hold a twin bed, it had to be at least 101 square feet. For a full, at least 110 sq ft. For a king size bed, it had to  be 171 square feet or more.

1 Bedroom Apartments Rented in 2011

Pie Chart showing breakdown of 1 bedroom sizes in Chicago Loop 1 bedroom apartmentsLoop:

Too small for Twin: 4%
Twin (min. 101  sq ft): 6%
Full (110): 24%
Queen (133): 38%
King (171): 27%

Most common size: 132 sf, 11′ x 12′
Median: 154 sq ft.
Total: 587


Pie Chart showing breakdown of 1 bedroom sizes in Chicago Lakeview 1 bedroom apartmentsLakeview:

Too small for Twin: 8%
Twin: 6%
Full: 22%
Queen: 31%
King: 23%

Most common size: 132 sf, 11′ x 12′
Median: 144 sq ft.
Total: 484


Pie Chart showing breakdown of 1 bedroom sizes in Chicago Rogers Park & Edgewater 1 bedroom apartments

Rogers Park & Edgewater:

Too small for Twin: 6%
Twin: 5%
Full: 24%
Queen: 40%
King: 25%

Most common size: 132 sf, 11′ x 12′
Median: 154 sq ft.
Total: 325


The most obvious thing across all of the 1 bedroom charts is that they look pretty much the same. the other major point is that about 2/3 of the bedrooms will comfortably fit a queen or king sized mattress in all three areas. The most common Chicago bedroom size for one bedrooms apartment is 132 sq ft. Four times the size of your bed may not be comfortable if you have, say, a full bedroom set with dresser and tallboy. But the bedrooms are definitely larger than you’d think from basic observation.

There is some bias in this study as all of my numbers came from rentals in the MLS, where room dimensions are approximated by the Realtors who write the listings. I’m not saying that Realtors are going to fudge the numbers, but looking at the raw data (available upon request), I suspect quite a bit of rounding up.

2 Bedroom Apartments Rented in 2011: Master Bedrooms

Pie Chart showing breakdown of master bedroom sizes in Chicago Loop 2 bedroom apartmentsLoop:

Too small for Twin: 1%
Twin: 3%
Full: 16%
Queen: 29%
King: 50%

Most common size: 192 sf, 12′ x 16′
Median: 176 sq ft.
Total: 460


Pie Chart showing breakdown of master bedroom sizes in Chicago Lakeview 2 bedroom apartmentsLakeview:

Too small for Twin: 5%
Twin: 3%
Full: 17%
Queen: 36%
King: 40%

Most common size: 144 sf, 12′ x 12′
Median: 165 sq ft.
Total: 807


Pie Chart showing breakdown of master bedroom sizes in Chicago Rogers Park & Edgewater 2 bedroom apartmentsRogers Park & Edgewater:

Too small for Twin: 2%
Twin: 4%
Full: 23%
Queen: 41%
King: 30%

Most common size: 120 sf, 10′ x 12′
Median: 154 sq ft.
Total: 497


One bedrooms are all well and good, but the majority of the rentals in Chicago are larger and shared by more than one person. So after seeing the overall identical nature of single bedrooms across the north side I figured I would look at 2 beds. As expected, master bedroom sizes in 2 bedroom rentals are larger on the whole than their one-bedroom counterparts.

Within the realm of master bedrooms, they get progressively smaller as we head away from downtown. In the Loop, one can expect half of the bedrooms to be large enough to hold a king size bed, and in fact the median for loop apartments is the only one surveyed that exceeded the “comfortable for a king bed” area of 171 square feet.

2 Bedroom Apartments Rented in 2011: 2nd Bedrooms

Pie Chart showing breakdown of auxiliary bedroom sizes in Chicago Loop 2 bedroom apartmentsLoop:

Too small for Twin: 15%
Twin: 14%
Full: 30%
Queen: 33%
King: 8%

Most common size: 110 sf, 10′ x 11′
Median: 132 sq ft.
Total: 460


Pie Chart showing breakdown of auxiliary bedroom sizes in Chicago Lakeview 2 bedroom apartmentsLakeview:

Too small for Twin: 21%
Twin: 15%
Full: 33%
Queen: 23%
King: 8%

Most common size: 120 sf, 10′ x 12′
Median: 121 sq ft.
Total: 807


Pie Chart showing breakdown of auxiliary bedroom sizes in Chicago Rogers Park & Edgewater 2 bedroom apartmentsRogers Park & Edgewater:

Too small for Twin: 19%
Twin: 15%
Full: 34%
Queen: 24%
King: 7%

Most common size: 132 sf, 11′ x 12′
Median: 121 sq ft.
Total: 497


Oh my goodness, what has happened here? The “second” bedrooms in 2 bedroom apartments get totally shafted. Perhaps roommates should consider going in by default at a 1/3 to 2/3 split on the rent. In all three areas, the median bedroom size never gets above “comfortable for a full/double mattress.”

When you consider the “rounding up” I mentioned earlier, these statistics are even more unfortunate for those roommates who get the smaller bedroom.

Initially designed as children’s bedrooms, the auxiliary bedrooms in most of the vintage Chicago rental stock were never meant to hold full-grown adults, queen sized beds, work-from-home desks with gaming desktop rigs and modern collections of ladies’ shoes. Even so, given how prevalent the “large master/small auxiliary” bedroom setup is in rentals of 2 beds and up, we must recognize that fully half of the renters in this city if not more have lived in bedrooms that are too small to comfortably fit a queen sized bed.

So what have we learned here?

If you’re going to be sharing apartment space in Chicago, there’s a very good chance that you will need to “spill over” your bedroom rig into other rooms of the house. If you have a larger bed than you need, consider downsizing or at least leaving any oversized headboards & footboards at home with mom & dad.

For folks living alone who can swing the extra cost, a two bedroom apartment will probably offer you a larger master bedroom.

As for Chicago’s reputation for having tiny bedrooms? If over half of the renters are squished into bedrooms that will only hold a full sized mattress, I’d say it’s confirmed.

PS: The award for Smallest Rental Bedroom of 2011 (out of the ones I surveyed) goes to 1709 Juneway Terrace in Rogers Park, a 2 bed with an auxiliary bedroom measuring 5′ x 7′. You can find larger sleeping quarters at your local Petsmart, I believe. The Largest Bedroom of 2011 Award goes to a duplex 1 bedroom at 944 W Grace, with a bedroom measuring 21′ x 21′ if the listing is to be believed. This is 10 times the size of a king sized mattress and probably ample room for anyone even with some fudging.

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-Kay C.

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