Average Dorm Room Size

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June 18, 2017

The Average Size of Dorm Rooms

Dorm rooms are notoriously small: they’re typically smaller than 130 square feet, and they’re normally even smaller than that. To put that into terms that are easier to understand, dorm rooms are normally one combined kitchen, living room and bedroom, and a tiny separate bathroom. If you’ve only ever seen one on TV, you might think they’re a little bigger than they actually are!

What you might not know is that you have a choice as to how big your dorm room will be, and how many people you share with. To help you get a scale of the tiny room you’ll be spending the next few years in, here’s a little guide to the average size of dorm rooms.

What kinds of room are there?

Things have moved on since the 1970’s, and today, there are actually a variety of dorm rooms available. This is so that if you have the cash to burn, you can afford either a larger dorm room or a dorm room that you don’t have to share.

There are great examples online of the kinds of dorm room you can find today. Boston College, for instance, has all sorts of information online about their residence halls. [1] Not all colleges are the same, but you’ll typically find either just the ‘traditional’ rooms or all of the rooms that Boston College show on their website.

The first kind, like we’ve said, is the ‘traditional’ room. It can be shared by either two, three or four people and is between 8 feet by 12 and 12 feet by 16. But they also offer suites and apartments, which are still cramped by normal standards but offer far more room- and many more rooms- than traditional dorms.

How big is a ‘traditional’ room?

The typical dorm room is either a double or triple room, meaning that it’s shared by you and either one or two others. Depending on how many people you’re sharing with, the room could be bigger. A triple room at Boston College is 23 feet by 16 feet long; a double is 16 feet by 12. [1] Of course, each of these rooms seems around the same size because of the number of people sharing.

If you want a room on your own, don’t expect for it to be the same size as a double or triple. At Boston College, your single room will by 8 feet by 12. [1] An 8 feet by 12 room will give you 96 square feet of floor space- so long as you don’t have any furniture. The actual floor space you’ll be able to use is far less than that after you account for your desk, bed and wardrobe.

Basically, you’ll be lucky if you have room enough to lie down without either your feet or your head touching the wall. It’s not much space!

How big is a ‘suite’?

Some colleges, Boston College among them, offer suites. These are basically dorm rooms with more adjoining rooms, like a separate bathroom, living room or kitchen. The typical suite has two dorm rooms with either two, three or four people in each, and the dorms themselves are slightly bigger at around 140 square feet. [1]

The typical 4 person, 2 bedroom suite at Boston College is as follows:

  • two bedrooms, both with two beds in each
  • a small entry way or reception
  • a small storage closet
  • one bathroom between all four occupants

In each of the rooms, each bed has an adjoining desk. All told, there are five rooms in the suite, but each is very small. The living room, if there is one, may not be big enough for four people to have a lot of room if they’re all in there together. There also wouldn’t be room enough for four chairs- so someone might have to sit on the floor!

How big is an ‘apartment’?

Dorm rooms described as apartments are basically just that- small self-contained compartments, designed to be a little less claustrophobic than the typical dorm room. The apartments that Boston College offers are suitable for two to six people, and this time you actually will have a little more room if there’s only two of you.

In the apartments, there are the usual two dorm rooms- sometimes single occupancy if there are only two of you sharing the space- along with all the other rooms you would expect in a normal apartment. There’s storage, a separate bathroom and shower, a separate kitchen, and a shared living room and dining room. [1]

If you’re sharing your dorm room with just one other person, you’ll have a grand total of 180 square feet in your dorm. That’s practically double what you would have in your single occupancy dorm, and that’s on top of what you have elsewhere in the house.

Of course, all of this comes at an extra cost. Larger dorm rooms are more expensive dorm rooms, and you have to consider whether that trade off is worth it for you. After all, if you live in a tiny dorm room but save your hard earned cash, you’ll be able to have more nights out and takeouts without worrying (too much) about money. In the end, it’s up to you.

So… I’m not gonna have enough room, am I?

Of course, any dorm room/apartment occupied by four or more people is going to feel very cramped; a three bedroom house can feel overcrowded for a family of four! There’s very little that you can do to avoid the fact that your dorm room is going to be small, even if you’re there on your own.

Until college magically becomes far cheaper than it is, and dorm rooms become far bigger than they are, it looks like you don’t have much choice. The only other option is to live off campus, but then you miss out on all the fun, and who wants that?

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