There are a number of ways to save money when looking for an apartment. First, you're paying a massive premium if you want to live in a doorman/elevator luxury building. Do you really need someone to accept your packages and watch the front door? Do you really need an elevator (or are you willing to walk up a few steps?). Second, much larger apartments tend to be cheaper per bedroom. If you're willing to live with multiple roommates, you can probably save money by dividing the cost of the common area among multiple people. Third, do you really need to be close to the trendy areas of the city? The public transportation system in New York is pretty robust. As long as you live near a subway line, you can pretty much get anyone in the city decently fast. Finally, for those who don't mind walking and exercise, RentHop has found that apartments farther away from subway access and on the higher floors of walkups tend to be significantly cheaper. If you're willing to compromise, there are a number of affordable apartments in New York (and even Manhattan). Of course, very rarely, you might find that "gem" apartment in the city. Save your searches on our site to get updates whenever new apartments pop up.
Every neighborhood has its own distinct flavor. Some neighborhoods are built tall (with skyscrapers and commercial buildings). Other neighborhoods are filled with old walk-ups and greenery. There is no question that prices also differ by neighborhood. The average price of a one-bedroom in NoMad (north of Madison Park) might be over $4,000 whereas a one-bedroom in the Lower East Side is only around $2,700. Even in adjoining neighborhoods, the prices can differ significantly. A few blocks matter!
When looking for the neighborhoods keep an open mind on the surrounding areas (and neighborhoods) to find the best "bang for buck" in terms of quality relative to cheapness. To get you started, though, RentHop has found that Lower East Side apartments, Upper East Side apartments, East Village apartments tend to be cheaper. Many of these areas have fewer luxury high-rise buildings and more inventory of older walkups (which tend to be cheaper). If you're looking to live in a luxury high-rise, your best bet might be Midtown East and the Financial District. Brooklyn Heights and Jersey City offer additional discounts if you're OK with living outside of Manhattan.
How did New York City get so expensive? First off, the pricing in Manhattan shouldn't be too surprising given that it is effectively a small peninsula with a limited amount of space. In addition, zoning laws across the city prevent it from "building up" except in certain neighborhoods. Just as important, though, is the relative wealth of the city. The New York City metropolitan area (which includes part of Jersey) has the second highest median household income (only slightly beaten by the San Francisco area). Finally, condos and co-ops in the city have become somewhat of an "investment asset," reducing the available inventory for renting.