Studio vs. One-Bedroom Apartments: How Do the Two Stack Up?

One of the most common dilemmas apartment hunters in Chicago face is whether to rent a studio or a one-bedroom. At HotSpot Rentals, we understand what a huge decision this is and that’s where we come in.  

Helping you choose an apartment that fits your lifestyle and budget (and all your stuff too!), is our specialty! 

What’s Different? (and, what isn’t!)

Choosing between a studio and a one-bedroom can be confusing.  Knowing how they differ can make the decision a lot easier. So exactly what is a studio apartment vs. one-bedroom? Here’s a basic look at what sets them apart: 


A studio apartment is essentially one room with no separation between the living and bedroom spaces. We often get asked – do studio apartments have bedrooms? The answer is yes and no. 

Studios are self-contained with everything, except the bathroom, in a single space. Different areas within the one-room are often utilized for specific functions. One corner might serve as the kitchen, another as the bedroom, and the space in between as the living room.  

So, yes, there is space for your bed. But no, there is no separate bedroom. 

Studio unit at Eleven40

A one-bedroom, on the other hand, features a traditional layout with separate spaces for the bedroom, bathroom, and living space. From a legal perspective, bedrooms must also meet requirements for light and ventilation. 

Luxury apartment at 640 N Wells

Square Footage

Studios are square or rectangle spaces and are completely open. Most studios range between 400 – 600 square feet with the exception of “micro-apartments” or “efficiency” studios that are smaller, topping off at around 250 – 450 square feet. 

One bedroom apartments have a wider range of sizes and are typically between 600 – 900 square feet. Yes, you get more living space, but the biggest difference in one-bedroom plans is the way space is divided up.

More square footage doesn’t always equal more liveable space. Sometimes, you’ll enter a studio that feels larger than a small one-bedroom. Why? Maybe its because the square-footage of that one-bedroom takes spaces like the hallway into account. While a hallway is necessary, it’s not exactly a usable living area, and therefore a larger number doesn’t reflect the feel of the unit.  

Large studio unit at Cobbler Square

Remember, a simple measurement doesn’t always tell the whole story and often, you’ll enjoy more livable space in a unit with less square footage. Our best advice is to keep an open mind, focus on the shape of the room and how you’ll live in space. Lastly, feel free to talk to your HotSpot agent about your space needs and goals- it isn’t always about a number. 


Sometimes, our customers assume that studio units have less-than-totally-private bathrooms. Not true! Studios typically have bathrooms comparable to one-bedrooms. Bathroom sizes are usually proportionate to the size of the unit, not due to the fact it’s a studio or one-bedroom.  

Luxury bathroom at Old Town Park

Closet Space

The amount of closet space an apartment has typically depends more on the building itself than on whether you’re renting a one-bedroom or studio. Newer buildings tend to have less closet space than older buildings because developers want to maximize the number of units they can build. 

Generally though, a one-bedroom apartment will likely have more closet space than a studio apartment. 

Ample closet space offered at Axis


Good news: no difference here! Those who opt for a budget-friendly studio will enjoy the same amenities as those who rent a one-bedroom, two-bedroom, or even a three-bedroom. Most luxury properties in Chicago have fitness centers, indoor and outdoor common spaces, pools, and security features available to all residents. 

Monthly Rent

We took a peek at listings in neighborhoods we service – from Lincoln Park to South Loop, Streeterville to West Loop – and if you’re looking at comparable units, you’ll be paying a bit more for your one-bedroom. In the neighborhoods we service, an average studio rents for about $1,600 while an average one-bedroom is around $2,100.  

Which is Right for You? Ask Yourself These 8 Questions…

1. What’s my budget?

This question is the most important of all. Consider what you are willing to compromise in order to stick to your budget. For instance, if not having an in-unit washer/dryer is a deal-breaker, but your budget is too limited for a one-bedroom, you’re probably going to be calling a studio home.

If you can, however, do without in-unit laundry, you may be able to swing a lower-priced one-bedroom and gain kitchen, living area, and bedroom space.  

2. Do I entertain?

Entertaining in a studio is a tight squeeze. It’s obviously easier in a one-bedroom since your bed isn’t in the living space. It might be a bit packed having five friends over if you live in a studio, but keep in mind that almost all of the luxury apartments in downtown Chicago have public spaces for residents to enjoy. If you prefer private entertaining though, you’d better stick to a one-bedroom set-up. 

Luxury 1 Bedroom at 727 W Madison

3. How much stuff do I have?

Neither a studio nor a one-bedroom will offer you a ton of storage space, a one-bedroom often has an extra closet or two and room for more chests, dressers, and other storage-containing furniture.  Ask yourself “am I willing to down-size?” Many people opt to not bring all their possessions – that is why parents have attics, right? Some dig down and discover the Marie-Kondo within themselves, maximizing their small spaces. We have some tips too. 

4. How much time do you spend at home?

If you work 12 hours a day, spend all of your time out socializing, or travel for work, a studio is likely a better option. You really don’t need a lot of space if you are never there!  But, if you are a homebody or work from home, having a separate bedroom might be imperative. 

5. Do I need laundry-in-unit?

Believe it or not, this is usually the tie-breaking question that determines whether you’re a good candidate for a studio…or not. In most downtown neighborhoods, the price for a studio with a washer/dryer is equal to the price of a one-bedroom without it. Are you willing to sacrifice in-unit laundry for more space? 

6. How flexible is my location?

If your primary goal is to be within walking distance of the West Loop, and your budget is $1,500, but you want a true one-bedroom, an apartment in the West Loop might be a stretch. Are you open to explore a nearby neighborhood that will get you the one-bedroom that you want? Great! Together, we’ll check out properties that have the space you want but still fit your budget.    

7. How flexible is your budget?

Budget means something different to everyone. For some, it’s just rent. For others, it’s rent plus utilities. And some consider things like their time – how long it takes to get to work, for instance. We’ve found it most effective to help our customers make a decision based on the “cost of renting”. This means, the total cost of living in your next apartment.

Base rent is a consideration, for sure, but so is the cost of utilities, parking needs, pet fees, and so forth. 

For example, if you’ll be renting within walking distance to work, then you may not need to bring your car. You’d save $200+ per month in parking fees and gas – and insurance! If you can walk to work, then you don’t even need to spend $5 per day on transit. Does the gym in the building replace your need for a gym membership? If so, you’ve really racked up the savings.

We work with you to take everything into consideration when discussing the budget.

8. Do I need to be in the newest, fanciest building?

If you’re looking for ultra-modern features and the utmost in amenities, but you have a limited budget, you may be able to get into those buildings if you choose a studio.

If space is most important, however, a slightly older building with fewer amenities might be a better choice for you. For example – think about living in a luxury building where you have access to a pool. Pretty cool, right? It’s certainly a fun amenity, but how many times a year are you going to take a dip? Be honest. Three? Maybe four? Now, think about how often you do laundry. At least twice a week, right?

Although less glamorous, practical conveniences sometimes win over more glamorous (but oh-so-fun) amenities.   

Outdoor pool at Alta at K Station

Studio vs. One-Bedroom: Let’s Choose!

When it comes to choosing between a studio and a one-bedroom, it’s all about personal choice and we’re here to help you weigh your options. Finding a small apartment in Chicago isn’t a chore when you have one of our agents by your side! 

Think of us as your personal shopper. Even if you don’t know exactly what it is you’re looking for, we’ll help you figure it out. And, we don’t stop there. We’re experts in all the best downtown Chicago neighborhoods, so we’ll get you into a property that best fits you, based upon your preferences. Once you make your final choice, we’ll help you work out all the fine details to seal the deal.

Feel free to reach out to us at HotSpot Rentals today, so we can get moving to get you moving.