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What Are Efficiency Apartments and Are They Good for Rent in Airbnb

small room with countertop

Quick Answer

Efficiency apartments are small, affordable units with a combined living/sleeping area and kitchenette. They can be profitable Airbnb rentals in prime locations due to low costs and traveler demand, but the limited space and amenities may not suit all guests. Careful design and marketing are key to success.


Efficiency apartments, also known as studio apartments, have become increasingly popular as a compact and affordable housing option in recent years. These small living spaces typically combine the bedroom, living room, and kitchen into a single room, with a separate bathroom. As the short-term rental market has exploded with the rise of platforms like Airbnb, many property owners and investors are wondering if efficiency apartments could be a profitable and in-demand option to list.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll take a deep dive into what exactly efficiency apartments are, their pros and cons, factors to consider when listing them on Airbnb, and analyze their financial outlook as a real estate investment. Whether you're a first-time host looking to rent out an extra small space or an experienced investor evaluating new opportunities, read on to determine if efficiency apartments might be a good fit for your Airbnb rental portfolio.

What is an Efficiency Apartment?

An efficiency apartment is a small living space that combines the functionality of a bedroom, living room, and kitchen into a single room, with a separate bathroom. The defining characteristic of an efficiency apartment is the open layout, without distinct rooms or walls separating the living areas.

Size and Layout

Efficiency apartments are typically smaller than one-bedroom apartments, ranging from 300 to 500 square feet on average. The compact size is designed for efficiency and functionality, making the most of the available space. The main living area usually includes a bed, a small seating area or couch, and a kitchenette along one wall. Some efficiency apartments may have a partial divider or partition to create a sense of separation between the sleeping and living areas, but it does not fully enclose the space like a separate bedroom.

Kitchenette Vs. Full Kitchen

One key difference between an efficiency apartment and a studio apartment is the kitchen setup. Efficiency apartments typically feature a kitchenette, which is a smaller and more compact version of a kitchen with limited appliances and counter space. A kitchenette usually includes a mini-fridge, a microwave, a small sink, and maybe a two-burner stove. Some kitchenettes may have a small oven or dishwasher, but full-size appliances are rare due to space constraints.

In contrast, studio apartments tend to have a full kitchen, which is larger and more well-equipped than a kitchenette. A full kitchen has standard-size appliances, including a refrigerator, oven, stove, and sink, plus more counter space and cabinets for storage. The kitchen in a studio may be open to the living area or partially separated by a breakfast bar or half-wall.

Common Locations

Efficiency apartments are commonly found in dense urban areas and city centers where real estate is at a premium. They are popular in high-cost housing markets like New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago, where renters are willing to sacrifice space for an affordable apartment in a desirable location. Efficiency apartments may be located in high-rise apartment buildings, converted historic homes or properties, or above commercial spaces in mixed-use buildings.

The compact size and efficient layout make them attractive for single renters, students, and young professionals who prioritize location and affordability over square footage. Efficiency apartments are also popular for short-term rentals and corporate housing, as they provide a convenient and cost-effective option for travelers and temporary residents.

Pros of Efficiency Apartments for Airbnb Rentals

Affordability and Profitability

One of the biggest advantages of investing in efficiency apartments for Airbnb is their affordability compared to larger rental units. The lower purchase price and ongoing costs can make it easier for hosts to get started with short-term rentals and achieve profitability sooner.

In many cities, efficiency apartments located in prime areas can command relatively high nightly rates on Airbnb despite their small size. The potential revenue relative to the monthly carrying costs may result in attractive cash flow and return on investment for hosts.

For example, a study found that studio apartments can generate a rental income up to 1.5% higher than one-bedroom or two-bedroom units, with studio rental yields around 6% on average.

Prime Location

Efficiency apartments are often located in city centers and desirable neighborhoods that are popular with travelers. Being in a prime location with proximity to tourist attractions, business districts, restaurants, and public transit is a major selling point on Airbnb.

Guests are often willing to sacrifice some space for a great location at an affordable price point. Having an efficiency apartment in a walkable, vibrant area can lead to high demand and occupancy rates, especially from budget-conscious solo travelers and couples. Hosts can emphasize the location benefits in their listing descriptions and photos to attract these guests.

Easy to Manage and Maintain

The compact size of efficiency apartments makes them relatively easy for hosts to manage, clean, and maintain. Turnover between guests is faster than for larger units, with less space to prep and stock. Consumable costs for supplies like toilet paper and mini toiletries are also lower.

Any maintenance issues or repairs will likely be simpler and cheaper than a large property with multiple rooms and more complex properties. This can help keep hosts' ongoing operational costs down.

Cons of Efficiency Apartments for Airbnb Rentals

Limited Space and Amenities

The main drawback of efficiency apartments is their small size and limited space for guests. Most units have minimal square footage, with the sleeping, living, and kitchen areas all in one room. This may feel cramped for some guests and may not provide enough privacy or space separation.

Efficiency kitchens typically only have a mini-fridge, microwave, and a few small appliances, rather than a full kitchen. This can be a downside for guests who want to cook full meals. The bathrooms are usually small as well.

Hosts must utilize multi-functional furniture, efficient organization, and thoughtful design to make the space functional and inviting. But, some guests may simply prefer larger accommodations, limiting the potential renter pool.

Fewer Guests and Shorter Stays

Efficiency apartments usually cannot accommodate more than one or two guests comfortably. This rules out larger groups and families who need more space and privacy.

The limited space and amenities may also lead to shorter stays from guests who would feel too cramped over longer periods. While short stays are common for Airbnb in general, hosts of efficiency units are less likely to attract bookings of a week or longer. More frequent turnover can mean more work for hosts.

Regulations and Competition

In some cities, efficiency apartments fall under the same short-term rental regulations as larger homes and apartments. Hosts may need to obtain permits, pay registration fees, and collect lodging taxes just like any other Airbnb rental. Understanding the specific legal requirements for short-term rentals in your area is important.

Competition from other efficiency apartments in desirable areas can be fierce. With a growing supply of small units targeting budget travelers, hosts may face pricing pressure and need to work harder to differentiate their listings. Providing outstanding hospitality, stylish decor, and popular amenities becomes even more critical.

The compact size and central location of efficiency apartments can make them an attractive and profitable option for Airbnb hosts. However, the limited space and amenities also come with challenges in attracting guests and commanding high nightly rates.

As with any Airbnb rental, hosts need to weigh the pros and cons, understand their target market, and create a standout listing that emphasizes the unit's strengths while being transparent about its limitations. Effective design, competitive pricing, and excellent hospitality can help make an efficiency apartment a successful Airbnb investment.

Renting an Efficiency Apartment on Airbnb: A Guide for Hosts

If you're considering listing an efficiency apartment on Airbnb, there are several key factors to keep in mind to create a successful and profitable short-term rental. From understanding local regulations to designing a functional space and providing top-notch hospitality, hosts need to take a strategic approach to attract guests and maximize their return on investment.

Navigating Local Short-Term Rental Regulations

Before listing your efficiency apartment on Airbnb, it's crucial to research and comply with the specific short-term rental laws in your city and state. Regulations can vary widely, from zoning restrictions and permit requirements to taxes and safety standards.

Some cities limit the number of days you can rent out your property per year, require hosts to register with the local government, or restrict short-term rentals to certain areas. Failure to follow these rules can result in fines, legal issues, and the removal of your listing from Airbnb.

To navigate the regulatory landscape, start by checking Airbnb's Help Center for an overview of the laws in your area. Contact your local planning or zoning department for more details on the specific requirements for your property. Consider consulting with a legal professional to ensure full compliance.

Designing a Functional and Inviting Space

Hosts need to thoughtfully design and furnish their efficient apartments to attract guests and provide a comfortable stay. While the limited square footage can be a challenge, there are several strategies to maximize functionality and create a welcoming atmosphere.

First, invest in a high-quality bed with comfortable linens, as this is the centerpiece of the rental. Choose a bed size that fits the space without overwhelming it, such as a full or queen.

Next, incorporate multi-functional furniture to make the most of the layout. A small dining table can double as a workspace, while a sleeper sofa provides extra sleeping capacity. Use vertical space with shelving and wall-mounted storage to keep the floor area open.

Create distinct sleeping, living, and dining zones with area rugs, room dividers, or curtains. This helps the space feel more organized and purposeful.

In the kitchenette, equip guests with the essentials to prepare simple meals and snacks, like a mini-fridge, microwave, coffee maker, and basic cookware. Provide ample counter space for food prep, and consider adding a portable induction cooktop for more cooking options.

Finally, add décor elements, like artwork, plants, throw pillows, and good lighting, to make the space feel stylish and homey. A cohesive color scheme and curated accessories can go a long way in elevating the overall look and feel of the rental.

Setting Competitive Rates and Offering Amenities

To maximize occupancy and revenue, hosts need to price their efficiency apartment competitively for their market. Research the average nightly rates for comparable Airbnb listings in your area, taking into account factors like location, size, amenities, and seasonality.

Consider using dynamic pricing tools to automatically adjust your rates based on demand. Offering discounts for longer stays or last-minute bookings can also help fill gaps in your calendar.

In addition to nightly rates, hosts can differentiate their efficiency apartment by providing value-added amenities. High-speed Wi-Fi, a smart TV with streaming services, and a dedicated workspace are essential for many travelers. Other appreciated extras include:

  • Complimentary coffee, tea, and light breakfast items
  • Toiletries like shampoo, soap, and a hairdryer
  • Extra linens, towels, and pillows
  • A welcome guide with local recommendations
  • Keyless entry for easy check-in

By offering these amenities, hosts can enhance the guest experience, justify a higher nightly rate, and earn positive reviews that drive future bookings.

Providing Excellent Hospitality and Communication

Ultimately, the success of your efficiency apartment on Airbnb depends on your ability to provide outstanding hospitality and communication with guests. Respond promptly to inquiries and booking requests, ideally within a few hours.

Provide clear and detailed check-in instructions, including directions, parking information, and keyless entry codes. Greet guests in person if possible or send a welcome message on their arrival day.

Throughout the stay, be available to answer questions, provide recommendations, and address any issues that arise. Check-in with guests periodically to ensure they have everything they need for a comfortable stay.

After check-out, thank guests for their stay and kindly remind them to leave a review. Promptly address any feedback or concerns they may have had to show your commitment to improvement.

Analyzing the Financial Outlook for Airbnb Efficiency Apartments

Before investing in an efficiency apartment to rent on Airbnb, hosts need to carefully assess the financial potential and risks. By estimating your income and expenses, comparing the short-term rental returns to a traditional long-term lease, and understanding the regulatory landscape, you can decide whether an efficient Airbnb is a smart financial move.

Estimating Airbnb Income Potential

To project your potential earnings from an efficiency apartment on Airbnb, start by researching the average daily rates and occupancy levels for comparable listings in your market. Look at factors like location, size, amenities, and seasonality to find rentals that closely match yours.

Tools like BNBCalc provide detailed Airbnb analytics for specific cities and neighborhoods, including average daily rates, occupancy rates, revenue, and rental comps. This data can help you set a competitive price and forecast your monthly income based on different occupancy scenarios.

For example, if comparable efficiency apartments in your area rent for an average of $100 per night with a 70% occupancy rate, you could expect to earn around $2,100 per month before expenses. However, keep in mind that demand and rates can fluctuate significantly throughout the year, with higher earnings during peak travel seasons and lower revenue during slow periods.

When estimating your Airbnb income, be sure to factor in the costs of furnishing, stocking, and maintaining the rental. You'll need to budget for items like furniture, linens, kitchenware, toiletries, and cleaning supplies. Additionally, it accounts for ongoing expenses like utilities, internet, and regular cleaning and maintenance between guests.

Comparing to Long-Term Rental Income

To determine if an efficient Airbnb is a better financial bet than a traditional long-term rental, compare each option's projected income and expenses. In many markets, you can charge a higher nightly rate on Airbnb than you could for a monthly rental. However, the higher revenue may be offset by the increased costs and vacancy inherent in short-term rentals.

Consider the following example:

Long-term rental: $1,000 per month, 95% occupancy, $500 annual maintenance costs

Airbnb rental: $100 per night, 70% occupancy, $500 monthly expenses

The long-term rental would generate $11,400 in annual revenue after expenses, while the Airbnb would bring in $20,400 before expenses, or $14,400 after expenses. In this scenario, the Airbnb is the more profitable option, but it also requires more ongoing work and management from the host.

Ultimately, the financial comparison depends on your specific property, market conditions, and hosting style. In some cases, a stable long-term tenant may be preferable to the higher revenue potential but greater volatility of Airbnb. To determine the best approach, it's important to run the numbers for your unique situation.

Assessing Risks and Regulations

In addition to the financial projections, hosts need to weigh the potential risks and regulatory hurdles of operating an efficiency apartment on Airbnb. In many cities, short-term rentals are subject to specific zoning laws, permit requirements, and tax obligations that can add costs and complexity.

Research the local regulations thoroughly and factor in any necessary fees, licenses, or insurance into your financial analysis. Non-compliance with these rules could result in fines and legal issues that eat into your profits.

It's also important to consider the risks of property damage, liability issues, and problematic guests that come with renting to short-term visitors. While Airbnb does provide some host protection and insurance, you may need additional coverage or security measures to protect your investment fully.

Finally, assess the competition from other Airbnb listings and traditional hotels in your market. In popular tourist destinations, the supply of short-term rentals may be high, putting downward pressure on rates. Look at the occupancy and revenue trends over time to get a sense of the long-term viability of an efficiency Airbnb in your area.


In summary, efficiency apartments can be a profitable and rewarding investment for Airbnb hosts who approach the opportunity strategically. These compact spaces are often more affordable to acquire and maintain than larger rentals, making them an accessible option for hosts looking to generate rental income.

With the right approach and mindset, an efficiency Airbnb can be a lucrative addition to your rental portfolio. Focus on creating a memorable guest experience and optimizing your listing for profitability, and you can turn even the smallest of spaces into a successful short-term rental venture.


How Can I Optimize My Airbnb Listing to Rank Higher in Search Results?

To improve your listing's visibility in Airbnb search results, focus on factors such as high-quality photos, competitive pricing, detailed and accurate descriptions, and positive reviews. Respond promptly to guest inquiries, maintain a high response rate, and consider enabling Instant Book. Regularly update your calendar availability and keep your listing information current to further boost your search ranking.

What Are Some Effective Ways to Attract More Guests to My Airbnb Listing?

In addition to optimizing your listing for Airbnb's search algorithm, you can attract more guests by offering unique amenities, providing exceptional customer service, and leveraging social media and other marketing channels to promote your listing. Consider offering special discounts or packages during slower periods, and encourage satisfied guests to leave positive reviews and recommend your listing to others.

How Can I Use Airbnb’s Advanced Search Options to Find the Right Guests for My Listing?

Airbnb's advanced search options allow you to filter potential guests based on factors such as their length of stay, number of guests, and purpose of their trip. You can also set preferences for guest characteristics like age range, language, and whether they have positive reviews from other hosts. By using these filters strategically, you can attract guests who are a good fit for your listing and hosting style.

What Should I Do if a Guest Leaves a Negative Review on My Airbnb Listing?

If a guest leaves a negative review, respond promptly and professionally to address their concerns and offer a solution if possible. Apologize for any inconvenience caused and explain how you plan to prevent similar issues in the future. Encourage future guests to leave honest reviews, and focus on providing exceptional service to generate more positive feedback that can outweigh the impact of a single negative review.

Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it on Airbnb.