Life in the city can be expensive. So stumbling upon an affordable option on your hunt for an apartment (one that even seems IG-worthy!) can feel like the ultimate find. Luckily, a convertible apartment is the perfect opportunity to capitalize on the perks of city life without the big city price tag — or at least not as big.

Convertible apartments are often found in large cities like Chicago and New York, where the demand for housing is high — along with the prices. For example, in Manhattan, the average rent is nearly $4,000 a month, and the average apartment size is 700 square feet. Increasingly limited housing options, coupled with a lack of space, often means renters have to get creative.

Convertible apartments allow for flexibility and the option to pay lower rent while still maintaining the feel of a one-bedroom — or larger — in a desirable location. 

What is a convertible apartment? 

A convertible apartment is essentially a studio that has a space specifically allocated for a bed. This type of apartment is larger than your typical studio but doesn’t quite have the square footage of a one-bedroom.

The sleeping area in a convertible apartment isn’t completely separate from the living space, but there is a clear designation that leaves some room for creativity. The sleeping area can be designated with an alcove, partial wall, separate room with a sliding door, or a hallway to create a buffer between the main living and sleeping spaces. 

Is a convertible apartment the same as a flex apartment?

The terms convertible apartment and flex apartment are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are some subtle differences.

In flex apartments, a one-bedroom flex means that the apartment has one existing bedroom with the option of “flexing” to add a second. A two-bedroom flex means that there are two bedrooms with the option to add a third. Whereas, a one-bedroom convertible means that the apartment is a studio with the option to add a sleeping alcove. A two-bedroom convertible means that the apartment has one bedroom with the option to add a second sleeping area.

You might also see the term junior one-bedroom pop up in your search. This type of apartment falls midway between a one-bedroom convertible and a one-bedroom. It’s usually a smaller version of the building’s one-bedroom floor plan but without the bedroom door and sometimes without a window.

How much does it cost to rent a convertible apartment?

The short — and frustratingly vague — answer to this question is: More than a studio, less than a one bedroom.

Because housing and rental markets vary widely depending on the city and current demand, the actual number is dependent on the area, the building, the local market, and more. As a ballpark, convertible apartments typically run about 5 percent less per month than a one-bedroom, but the actual price to rent or buy varies widely.

Ready to look for a convertible apartment? Here are some tips.

Because the terminology can get a little complex, these tips will help make the apartment search easier:

Steph Mickelson


Steph Mickelson is a freelance writer based in Northwest Wisconsin who specializes in real estate, building materials, and design. When she’s not writing, she can be found juggling kids and coffee.