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What is a One-Bedroom Split?

Lilly Milman

By Lilly Milman

May 10, 2024


If you’ve looked for a two-bedroom apartment in a city known for small apartments like Boston or New York City, you may have come across listings advertising a “one-bedroom split” apartment in your search. If you were confused on why you were seeing “split” apartments that seemed to be smaller than what you were searching for, you aren’t alone.

In this article, we explain what that means exactly, go through the differences between one-bedroom splits and other apartment layouts with similar names, and list out pros and cons of this unconventional floor plan.  

What is a one-bedroom split apartment?

A one-bedroom split apartment (which may also be advertised in real estate as a “split-style apartment’) is a unit where the living room can be converted into a second bedroom. So, it is essentially a one-bedroom apartment where the landlord is allowing the tenants to turn it into a two-bedroom apartment by removing the living room. In a unit with an open floor plan, this could look like renters putting up a room divider that you buy online or hanging a curtain to close off the living area, or even the landlord putting up a divider wall on behalf of the tenants. In an apartment with an older-style, closed floor plan, the living room may already have four walls and a door that separates it from the rest of the unit.

Not all landlords are willing to have two tenants who aren’t a couple share a one-bedroom apartment, so that’s what differentiates a one-bedroom split apartment from a true one bedroom apartment. 

What is a two-bedroom split apartment?

Similar to a one-bedroom split apartment, a two-bedroom split is an apartment where there are two true bedrooms a third bedroom made out of a converted living room or dining room. So, a two-bedroom split apartment can be made to have three bedrooms. Though less common, a three-bedroom split apartment could have up to four bedrooms, and so on.

What is a one-bedroom split vs. a one bedroom with flex room? 

The most similar floor plan to a one-bedroom split apartment is a studio or one-bedroom flex apartment — and for that reason, a realtor may use the two terms interchangeably. A flex apartment is a unit where a temporary divider wall (called a flex wall) has been put up either by the tenant or the landlord to help the tenant divide one larger room into two smaller rooms. This could look like a stationary floor-to-ceiling wall, a dividing wall structure on wheels, pocket doors, or a barn-style door that’s hung on hinges on the ceiling. For example, a large studio apartment could be turned into a one-bedroom home with a flex wall.

A one-bedroom with a flex room would look like a true one-bedroom apartment, with a large living room that has been divided into multiple rooms with a flex wall (so, totaling at two bedrooms, with a smaller living room). This would be very similar to a one-bedroom split — though the split would have no living room space. The flex wall could also be used to create a home office area rather than another bedroom.

What is a one-bedroom split apartment vs. a one-bedroom split-level apartment?

A split-level apartment is a unit with multiple floors. In a split-level one-bedroom apartment, the living room and kitchen will likely be on one floor while the bedroom would be on another. The bathroom could be on either level. This layout can be preferred by renters who don’t mind stairs because it gives the illusion of a more spacious apartment. This is very different from a one-bedroom split apartment, which converts a living room space into a bedroom.

What is a one-bedroom split apartment vs. a split-bedroom apartment?

A split-bedroom apartment is a unit where the bedrooms are separated from each other in the floor plan, so they are on the opposite sides of the house. In a split-bedroom floorplan, the master bedroom will be on one side of the apartment and the other bedroom (or bedrooms) will be on the other. The two areas will be separated by the living room and/or kitchen. This is different from a one-bedroom split apartment, which does not technically have any living room space at all — so the bedrooms will have very little separation.

What are the pros and cons of a one-bedroom or two-bedroom split apartment?

If you’re debating whether or not to sign a lease on a one- or two-bedroom split apartment when looking for your new home, consider the following pros and cons. 

Pros

  • It is more cost effective. In general, the median rent price for a one-bedroom apartment is typically less than it is for a two-bedroom apartment. This means that if you share what is essentially a one-bedroom apartment between two people, you will be saving money compared to if you rented a two-bedroom apartment together. This could allow you to move in to a tough rental market like NYC.
  • Split or flex apartments can provide flexibility for growing families. If you are a young couple expecting to start growing a small family, a one-bedroom split apartment can give open up the opportunity to eventually turn a living space into a second bedroom if necessary without requiring you to move into another apartment right away.
  • There will be less common space that you have to keep clean. One benefit of sacrificing common square footage is that you will have less to clean. This could even lead to less roommate conflict if you are worried about keeping common areas clean.

Cons

  • You won’t have space for entertaining. It is difficult to host guests without a living room, so you may miss out on that experience if you live in a one-bedroom split with a roommate. In general, one-bedroom split apartments may not feel very spacious.
  • You may suffer from a lack of privacy. With a one-bedroom split apartment, you and your roommate will have very little room to hang out in besides your respective bedrooms — and if they’re bordering each other, you’ll likely still be able to hear each other. A less spacious apartment will always offer less privacy than a larger space.
  • The roommate living in the split space may have a worse room. Because a living room probably won’t have closet space in it, the roommate living in the former living room may have a worse bedroom. If you are worried about inequality between the split room and the main bedroom, then a one-bedroom split may not be for you.

The Bottom Line

A one-bedroom split apartment isn’t for everyone, and may be more ideal for roommates who don’t mind being in close quarters with each other. Because it affords renters a much cheaper living space, it can be worth it to sacrifice the extra living space.

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