Image of the front stoops of row house buildings in NYC Look around, NYC is full of apartment options!

It’s nice to have a big housing budget (hopefully paid for by your company) but many of us don’t, This article is for the other 99% that need to figure out how they can live in the city of their dreams without going broke in the process. As licensed brokers, we know the NYC real estate market and have some insider tips and tricks to navigating it. Read on below and find out how you can afford to live your dream in NYC.

1. Understand the costs of living in NYC

Image of real estate broker speaking with clients inside a property Let a NY licensed broker explain the ins and outs of apartment hunting in NYC

New York City is one of the top destinations in the world for travelers and apartment renters. Everyone wants to experience living in the Big Apple, which means apartment rentals get snapped up quickly and rent prices can go through the roof! Being realistic with your budget will save a lot of time and frustration, and a broker can help you realistically determine what you could get for your money.

If you have a big budget, we plenty of luxury rentals to suit your needs, but for people with more limited budgets, the first step is realizing you can’t get all the bells and whistles you can in other places on a budget in NYC. Differentiate what is an absolute necessity or a “must” on your list of criteria from what is a “plus” that would be nice to have, but you could also live without. This is NYC, time to give up your “Friends” and “Sex & the City” apartment delusions and get ready to compromise! Being flexible and willing to trade off certain criteria can save you a lot on rent.

2. Amenities can add up, a little effort can pay off in cheaper rent

Image of person standing in laundromat with rows of washers, dryers and laundry carts You never know who you’ll bump into at a NYC Laundromat.(Credit:Ryan McGuire

We’d all like to have all the amenities we could dream of in our apartment, but let’s be real, you’re moving to NYC, one of the most expensive cities in the world, its time to get money savvy. A laundry washer and dryer in your apartment is a nice convenience if you have the budget, but is it really necessary? Plenty of buildings have common laundry rooms where you can do your laundry right in the building. And if the building doesn’t have a laundry room? Fear not, the majority of us just head to the local Laundromat. You can find one on just about every corner and it’s a great chance to meet your neighbors, make some friends and maybe meet that special someone while folding your delicates (you’ve seen the movies, love can be just a laundromat away). This one bedroom furnished apartment in Harlem is right around the corner from a laundromat and this studio apartment on the Upper East Side has the convenience of a laundromat right next door.

Outdoor space like a garden or balcony would be fabulous, but in NYC, that love of the outdoors will cost you. Why not save on rent by just renting close to a park or garden or commuting to the nearest outdoor spot of your choice? Luxury gets monotonous, thrifty renters can change it up and head to a different park, garden or riverside anytime the want. This two bedroom apartment in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn is just 3 blocks from Prospect Park! And don’t forget some of the city’s outdoor spaces with the best views are above your head at one of the many rooftop terraces and bars.

Kitchens in Manhattan are notoriously small, which is what fuels our take-out and delivery economy. So if you’re really not into cooking, save some dough on a basic studio with kitchenette instead of full kitchen like in this studio on the Upper West Side. You’ll have the basics like a mini fridge, microwave and hot plates for your basic kitchen needs, and you have an excuse to sample all of the great take-out options that make NYC like no other place in the world (even Anthony Bourdain decided to open a food market here, need we say more?).

3. Get active: A little effort can equal big savings

Image of a doorman opening a door Forgo the doorman and you can save on rent

Some people may need an elevator due to physical limitations, but if you’re fit and willing, why not save some money on rent. Walk up buildings can be considerably cheaper than elevator buildings plus you can get your workout in daily without even noticing it.

Image of bed in studio NY-7890 on the Lower East Side The Lower East Side has many walk-up building options

Brooklyn has a lot of walk-up options, including this one bedroom in Bushwick, while this studio on the Lower East Side is a good option for bargain hunters that want to remain in Manhattan. Doormen are great for catching up on the latest building gossip but do you really want to pay extra for someone to open the door for you? Don’t forget all that gabbing will cost you when the holidays roll around and its time to tip the building staff. Keep your arms in great shape and save on that holiday budget by opting for a non-doorman building – it could save you a bundle! You can still have the swanky Upper East Side address without the doorman with this furnished studio located right off Park Avenue!

4. Don’t think too narrowly about location

Image of kitchen and living room sofa and dining table of apartment NY-16210 in Ridgewood Queens Consider Queens options like this one bedroom apartment in Ridgewood

Do you really need to limit your apartment search to a two block radius from your office or school? New York is a commuter-friendly city with one of the most comprehensive transit systems in the world. We all commute here, so grab your Metrocard! Strategy is key here, think outside the box, the center of the city is going to cost you a premium so spread out a little, head further East or West, or check out Upper Manhattan. Consider this one bedroom in the Upper Manhattan neighborhood of Inwood or this studio in Hamilton Heights.

Image of 5 people socializing in the kitchen over food Sharing an apartment can be fun and cost-saving!

We New Yorkers know there’s plenty more to NYC than just Manhattan – Queens and Brooklyn are just a subway ride away, can save you money on rent and as an added bonus you don’t have to squeeze into an apartment the size of a shoebox. Just hop on the subway after a night out in Manhattan, or Uber it back to the peace and quiet of your apartment. This one bedroom in Ridgewood, Queens is close to the border with Brooklyn, while this one bedroom in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn puts you close to the water and views of New York Bay.

5. Share an apartment

Can’t stomach footing the whole rent bill? We don’t blame you, to survive rising rents, plenty of New Yorkers share apartments here. New York Habitat has a whole department dedicated to roommate share apartments, where you can rent a room for 30 days or more in a shared apartment. This room for rent in a three bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side and this room in a two bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side, allow you to live in some of the most expensive Manhattan neighborhoods for a fraction of the cost.

Combining budgets with friends to share a full two or three bedroom apartment can also help you save on rent and give you a bigger living space than you might be able to afford on your own. This three bedroom apartment in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn and this three bedroom furnished rental in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn are roomy enough to share with friends. And if you don’t necessarily each need a bedroom you can save by renting a one bedroom apartment with a pull-out sofa.

Image of vacation rental NY-12794 in Bedford Stuyvesant This vacation rental in Bedford Stuyvesant can sleep up to twelve people.

Last but not least, our brokers know the ins and outs of our expansive apartment inventory so they can sometimes work some magic and find you something you might otherwise overlook, like a one bedroom apartment with a second “living room” that’s really more like a second bedroom in disguise. This vacation rental in Bedford Stuyvesant with extra living rooms can sleep up to 12 people!

Now that you’ve got some insider tips to finding an apartment for your budget in NYC, head to our website and start browsing and dreaming about your next apartment rental in NYC! Happy hunting!

Related apartment rental posts from New York Habitat:
  1. Guide to Upper West Side Furnished Apartment Rentals
  2. Guide to Listing Your Apartment with New York Habitat – Part 1
  3. Guide to Listing an Apartment with New York Habitat – Part 2
  4. A Millennial Guide to: The Upper West Side (Part 2)
  5. A Millennial Guide to: Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Part 1)


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