Learn About Single-Room Occupancy (Efficiency) Apartments

A Section 8 efficiency apartment is one of the many housing options available to program beneficiaries. Efficiency apartments for rent are located throughout the U.S., especially in metropolitan cities and areas with high population density. In general, efficiencies consist of one room, which combines the occupant’s sleeping, eating and living areas to minimize unnecessary space. These units are often confused with studios, though key differences frequently make efficiencies the more affordable option.

Due to the small layout, an efficiency for rent is great for individuals looking to save on rent and utilities. This type of apartment often includes additional benefits as well, including short-term lease options. Before moving into an efficiency, applicants must consider their budgets and how much space they need. When they are ready to select a unit, applicants must choose a property that suits their needs and meets Section 8 inspection requirements. 

What is an efficiency apartment?

An efficiency apartment is a housing option that is most known for its small size and low cost. This type of apartment is often referred to as a single-room occupancy apartment, due to its one-room layout. Efficiencies generally fall between 300 and 500 square feet, though some cities may offer units around 250 square feet. 

Within this small space, efficiency units combine the occupant’s bedroom, kitchen and living areas together. The idea is to provide only the most basic living essentials to minimize extra space. In other words, this type of apartment is designed to be the most efficient and affordable housing option. This makes efficiencies a great choice for low-income individuals.  

In some cases, apartment listings refer to efficiency apartments as studios and vice versa. However, there are a generally a few differences between these two housing options. Depending on your needs, you may find one option more suitable than the other. Before you choose, it is important to learn the aspects that distinguish most studios from efficiencies. 

Efficiency vs Studio Apartments 

Efficiency apartments are often considered interchangeable with studio apartments. This is likely because of their similar layout and affordable nature. Both housing options are small and usually do not include a private bedroom area. Instead, these units join the bedroom and other living areas together. Both options also include a private bathroom area, though that is where the similarities tend to stop. 

To begin with, studio apartments are more likely to vary in size but are generally larger than efficiencies. While the size difference might seem insignificant, it becomes very noticeable when furniture is added to the space. However, the reduced size of efficiencies may result in even lower rental prices. 

The most noticeable difference between these single-room apartments are the kitchen and bathroom areas. A studio typically includes a small but complete kitchen and bathroom in the layout. However, efficiencies are often limited to a kitchenette, which consists of a small fridge and no stove. In addition, efficiencies may only provide a half bathroom containing a sink and a toilet. However, some units may offer a standing shower in place of a bathtub.

The Benefits of Renting an Efficiency Apartment

Efficiencies are a great option for Section 8 beneficiaries who do not require a lot of space. These units are often listed at affordable prices, which allows tenants to maximize their voucher benefits. Though on the smaller side, efficiency apartments for rent can offer plenty of perks for renters in addition to low costs. The following list outlines some of the advantages of renting an efficiency:

  • Budget friendly: In addition to lower rent prices, an efficiency may also help you save on utilities. Smaller spaces tend to consume less electricity, especially for air conditioning. 
  • Easy to keep clean: With such a small space, there is less room for unnecessary items and clutter, which makes it easier to keep the space clean and organized. 
  • Opportunities for socializing: Some buildings that offer efficiencies also include communal spaces for the tenants to share and interact with each other. 
  • Great for short-term housing: Efficiency housing is often available on a short lease, including month-to-month options.  
  • Concentrated in metropolitan areas: For individuals who work in the city or just enjoy city life, this type of housing is mostly available in these locations.  

Is an efficiency apartment right for you?

Efficiency housing offers a simple, affordable option for many renters, especially those seeking housing assistance. While the space is limited, tenants can maximize savings and even reap additional benefits. However, efficiencies are not for everyone. In order to determine if an efficiency is right for you, consider your main priorities.  

Due to the small layout, efficiency rentals are typically reserved for individual tenants. Therefore, if you live with your significant other or family, larger housing options may be more suitable. In addition, you may have trouble fitting into an efficiency if you own a lot of furniture and other belongings.

Alternately, efficiency apartments for rent are a great option if you live alone and have a tight budget. This is also a suitable choice if you work long hours or spend a lot of time away from home. You must also consider where you want to live when choosing this option. Efficiencies are usually located in highly populated cities, with few or no units available in smaller cities and suburbs. 

Learn How to Find an Efficiency for Rent

Once you determine that an efficiency apartment is suitable to your lifestyle, the next step is to find an available property. To do this, you can search for terms like “efficiency for rent near me” online or contact your public housing agency (PHA). Your local PHA can help with finding approved properties. As previously stated, this housing option is often available in metropolitan cities and other highly populated areas. Occasionally, they are also located in 55-and-up communities, which are restricted to seniors. 

Some private homeowners turn their garages or basements into efficiencies and rent them out to individual tenants. If you choose a listing like this, you must make sure the homeowner accepts housing vouchers. To rent from a private landlord or unapproved property, your chosen apartment must also pass a Section 8 housing inspection. This inspection allows the PHA to ensure that the rent is reasonable and the property meets program standards.