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Despite a mass exodus from large metropolitan areas during COVID-19, many people still dream of renting an apartment in New York. While it may not be the most spacious crib you will have in your lifetime, you can’t beat the amenities.
New York City remains the hub for employment opportunities, culture, entertainment and education. Home to people from across the globe, you won’t find a lack of restaurants or things to do to pass the time.
Of course, if you plan to move to the “city that never sleeps,” you need a well-paying job that covers your living expenses. The cost of an apartment in NYC is through the roof. Does it mean you’ll never have a chance to experience life as a New Yorker? It could just mean you need to think outside the box — or the borough.
Renting an Apartment in Manhattan
Even before the pandemic, Manhattan rent prices were ticking upward. Today, they’ve reached an all-time high. Rent for an apartment in New York City rose 2% from February to March 2023 — now an average of $4,175 — and up 12.8% year-over-year (YoY).
The trend is even more stark for one and two-bedroom apartments, which increased by 9.6% and 18.3%, respectively. You can rent a one-bedroom apartment for around $4,150 or a two-bedroom unit for $5,680. Even most studios are over $3,000.
Of course, prices differ by neighborhood. Look for a place in Battery Park or TriBeCa and you’ll have difficulty finding anything below $6,000 — the Lower East Side and Upper West Side apartments cost over $5,000. Considering the average apartment in New York is 703 square feet, it’s a lot of money for a cramped space.
Many will argue that you pay for the experience of living in NYC, not the apartment itself. The city hosts 9 million people, with only 34% classified as white. The different nationalities make the city unique, and many look forward to joining the diverse community.
How Much Is an Apartment in the Rest of New York City?
All of NYC has seen median rent prices increase over the last couple of years. However, let’s face it — Manhattan is the most pricey place to live if you’re looking to rent an apartment in New York.
Many people find that a shoebox-sized apartment isn’t worth most of their hard-earned money. While you certainly will leave some of the perks behind by looking elsewhere for a place, the other four boroughs also have much to offer with lower rents.
Brooklyn Apartment Rents
Brooklyn residents have always bragged about paying lower rents than their Manhattan counterparts. Although apartments are still less expensive than in the city, the median rent is increasing.
Rent.com says a studio apartment in Brooklyn costs an average of $3,625 — a +2% YoY change. Meanwhile, one-bedroom apartments saw a +66% YoY change, now costing about $4,154.
Inventory is low in Brooklyn — one in five apartments end up in a bidding war — while luxury renters in prominent neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Dumbo, Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights expect prices to continue rising. Nearly 60% of Brooklyn renters sign two-year leases to lock in their rents.
Queens Apartment Rents
You might wonder why you should consider moving out to Queens. For starters, the borough offers hip enclaves, suburbs and green spaces and boasts the most extraordinary ethnic and cultural diversity in NYC. It’s also recognized as one of the safest boroughs to live in.
Neighborhoods in Northwest Queens — such as Jackson Heights, Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City — recently had the lowest YoY rent spike at 13%, with the average apartment costing $3,500.
Commutes from Queens are also not nearly as bad as those from other boroughs. Driving from Queens to Manhattan for work could take 35 minutes by car, depending on how much traffic there is and where your office is located. You also can take the express bus or the subway and reach your destination within an hour.
Staten Island Apartment Rents
Staten Island tends to get a bad rap — many have even dubbed it the “Forgotten Borough.” However, it might be more appealing if you’re looking for an affordable apartment in New York.
One-bedroom apartments in Staten Island may have seen a 14% YoY increase, but they’re still only an average of $1,713 as of May 2023. The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment is about $2,300, while studios cost around $2,242 — the latter having the least inventory available.
Renters sacrifice an easier commute for cheaper rents in Staten Island. Stacker.com ranks Staten Island as No. 4 on its list of worst commutes in NYC, with an average of 43 minutes to get where you need to be. According to its survey, 28.4% of workers traveled over 60 minutes for work, while 7.6% left home between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. to beat rush hour traffic.
Residents have options, though — they can take public transportation, including a free Staten Island Ferry trip to get into the city. Considering subway fares are $2.75 per ride, and the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge Tolls-By-Mail rate is $10.17, a free ride goes a long way.
The Bronx Apartment Rents
The Bronx has some of the cheapest apartments in New York. In April 2023, average rents decreased by 1.6% to $2,346.49, while studio apartments were down 5.6%.
Like anywhere, rent prices in the Bronx differ by neighborhood — the most costly being Mott Haven and the least expensive in Morris-University Heights and Riverdale.
However, renters aren’t exactly thrilled about the apartment situation in the borough. Only 30% of Bronx tenants would recommend their apartment complex to a friend or family member.
About 21% complain about pest and rodent infestations in their units, while 7.5% mention little response from their landlords. Poor management and noise are other common complaints.
An Apartment in New York Is Still the Dream
Despite post-pandemic migrations from big city living to the suburbs, many people still dream of apartment living in NYC. Most of New York is more expensive than ever, so you’ll want to choose your place wisely to afford your monthly rent.
Nevertheless, you can reap the benefits of all NYC offers, regardless of the borough you live in. Thanks to public transportation, you can quickly get to the hustle and bustle of the city in no time.
Of course, if worse comes to worst, there’s always New Jersey.