New York is cheap.
I know that sounds insane. New York constantly races San Francisco for the title of Most Expensive City in the U.S.
But it’s not true if you don’t have kids.
The Contrarian View of NYC Costs
Apartment rents are out of control, it’s true. This is no surprise to anyone who lives here. Renting an apartment can mean paying a broker fee totaling 15% of the yearly rent.
But consider all of the expenses a New Yorker simply does not need to have (compared with commuting from, say, New Jersey):
1.) Car payment (let’s be kind and say $300 a month).
2.) Car insurance (about $100 a month).
3.) Gas for the car (about $200 a month).
4.) Daily train commute (about $300 a month).
5.) Parking at the train (about $250 a month).
6.) Car repairs and maintenance (about $100 a month).
We just saved approximately $1250 per month. Now what happens?
Well, if you live in Manhattan in a no-fee studio apartment that costs $2500 a month (feasible even in high-priced neighborhoods), you simply re-allocate that $1250 into your rent. So, you are living the same as someone who pays $1250 a month in rent and commutes to the city. New York is looking better than the suburbs already.
Now let’s say you live in Brooklyn, perhaps in Greenpoint or Boerum Hill or Red Hook, and you pay $1800 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. Now you are living the same as someone who pays $550 a month in rent and commutes to the city.
Keeping the Price Down
Here are 7 major tips for making New York City more affordable:
1.) Rent a no-fee apartment. There are plenty of no-fee apartments, including luxury apartments in Manhattan. Don’t pay a broker fee unless your employer is reimbursing you — it’s 15% of your first year’s rent and is a completely unnecessary expense.
3.) Consider less well-known Brooklyn neighborhoods. Greenpoint and Boerum Hill are much more affordable than Brooklyn Heights. The Upper East Side in Manhattan is also relatively affordable.
4.) Are you okay with roommates? If so, you can save money and probably get a much nicer apartment.
5.) Don’t bring a car. Don’t bring a car. Don’t bring a car.
6.) If at all possible, start your lease in late fall or winter (mid-November through mid-February). You’ll save hundreds of dollars per month on rent for the life of your lease, because rents tend to rise and fall seasonally in NYC. Occasionally there are crazy deals on apartments that become available over the December holidays, because nobody wants to move then.
7.) Conversely, avoid the late spring and summer months (mid-May through mid-September) for a lease start date.
Good luck and enjoy the city!