Square footage isn’t everything, says Utah apartment spokesman

May 17, 2023, 6:30 PM | Updated: May 18, 2023, 1:00 pm

A Utah apartment spokesman shares his insights on how to make apartment life better and more afford...

An apartment building under construction n Salt Lake City is pictured on Monday, May 16, 2022. (Mengshin Lin/Deseret News)

(Mengshin Lin/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — No doubt, renting in Salt Lake City can be pricey. A Utah apartment spokesman shares insights on life as a renter today and some hacks to make that life easier.

How much apartment space can a renter buy for $1,500 in Salt Lake City? Answer: 742 square feet according to a new report by RentCafe. but that same amount of money will buy you 850 square feet in West Valley City.

The best deal is in Wichita, Kansas, where $1,500 will stretch to as much as 1,463 square feet, the report says. And $1,500 a month will get you a 243-square-foot apartment in Manhattan, which is about a 15 1/2-by 15 1/2-foot room.

How Much Apartment Space Does $1,500 Get You in 200 U.S. Cities?

The average apartment rent in SLC is $1,664 and the average size of that apartment is 829 square feet, according to RentCafe.

Paul Smith of the Utah Apartment Association joins Dave & Dujanovic to share hacks on how to find more space for less or if $1,500 is the reality for most renters. 

‘We have a better economy than Wichita, Kansas’

“$1,500 a month on average for 742 square feet. That sounds just — that’s outrageous. I mean, we’re pricing renters out of the market. We’re pricing lower-income families out of the Salt Lake City area. And I wonder if there’s — do you agree with that?” Debbie asked.

“Well, there’s two pieces of context I think we need to have to kind of collect our thoughts and take a deep breath,” Smith said. “The first is rents are going up at half the rate of home prices. . . Second, we have a better economy than Wichita, Kansas. So we have better jobs. We have better quality of life. So people aren’t going to just go to the place where they can get the most apartment for the dollar because they don’t have a good job. They don’t have a good quality of life there, so Utah’s a desirable place to be.”

Square footage is old-fashioned, says spokesman

“Is square footage, is that a good way to measure things?” Dave asked.

“It’s not because people now live the IKEA style. We think many of us are of the older generation that you need lots of square feet and need a big yard; young people don’t think that way,” Smith said.

He added that young people with lots of “stuff” have a storage unit or keep it at their parents’ house.

“So while it seems a way to measure by using square footage, it’s probably not the best one,” Smith said. “The best one is how close am I to my work? What is my quality of life for living in this area? What are the restaurants and transportation options and amenities that are available for me? I prefer those measurements to just square feet myself.”

Dave said he has a 75-inch television downstairs and his kids watch their movies on a 4.7-inch iPhone.

“Case in point. This is a different generation,” Smith said.

Average rent in Salt Lake City by neighborhood

According to RentCafe:

  1. Sugar House $1,885
  2. Central City $1,801
  3. East Bench $1,786
  4. Downtown Salt Lake City $1,741
  5. Liberty Wells $1,731
  6. Capitol Hill $1,712
  7. The Avenues $1,707
  8. Ballpark $1,649
  9. Holladay $1,646
  10. Cottonwood Heights $1,613

What are some apartment hacks?

Smith said sharing space is one of his favorites for saving money.

“A lot of people are willing to bunk up or consolidate households,” he said. “Many times you can go out and you can get a six-bedroom house and have a few people live there for a lot less than if everybody lived in their separate apartments.” 

Live where you are with friends and family, Smith recommended, because if you move away to save money it will reduce your quality of life and any savings will be reduced by the cost of traveling.

Debbie asked if tenants should negotiate with their landlords over rent prices because she said she has been a landlord and knows it’s a pain to move a new tenant into an apartment.

“It’s very pricey to have to turn over an apartment if somebody moves out. You got to do the background check. You got to do the cleaning. Sometimes you have to change out the carpet. So do landlords — are they showing a willingness to negotiate with tenants?” she asked.

“My dad taught me that it never hurts to ask, as long as you do it nicely, and you don’t get offended if somebody says ‘no,'” Smith said “So I tell tenants: Ask, negotiate, explain your circumstances, say ‘I’d much rather stay here than move’ and ‘This is what I could pay.’ You never know, the landlord might just accept your offer.”

Related reading: Talks on more tiny apartments continue in Salt Lake City


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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Square footage isn’t everything, says Utah apartment spokesman