Armchair Apartment Hunting: What You Get for $1,500 a Month in NYC
It's not easy finding a budget space in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn or the Bronx -- but even at this bottom-of-the-barrel monthly rent, there are still some deals to be had across New York City
While some New Yorkers can spend $2,500 or even $3,500 a month on their habitations each month, there are plenty who live in this city on much more modest budgets. This month Newyork.com shines a light on the few apartments available for $1,500 per month or less across the four boroughs from our extensive listings, and the results are encouraging. Sure, you won’t be swimming in a rooftop pool or parking your car in the underground garage, but you might be able to park your bike and do your laundry in the building. And while you won’t be steps from Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, you will find apartments in leafy family-friendly outer-borough neighborhoods — some even with old-world charm — that are firmly in the budget bucket and won’t shock your out-of-town relatives too much.
Sunset Park, Brooklyn, $1,500/month
In Brooklyn, $1,500 can net you a one-bedroom walk-up in the up-and-coming Sunset Park area. Nestled south of Greenwood Heights, much of the neighborhood looks out on the scenic Greenwood Cemetery. It’s a quick jaunt on the N or R train to the posher South Slope and Park Slope proper, the former known for its array of 99-cent stores and Mexican and Chinese restaurants, the later for just about every kind of restaurant and amenity (from yoga studios to dog grooming spots to baby shops) a Brooklynite could desire. This particular pre-war apartment has gleaming hardwood floors and an amenity rare in units at this price: an eat-in kitchen. As well, both the kitchen and bathroom look clean and well-cared for. One window appears to face a brick wall and the other the street. As a bonus, feline friends are welcome — a boon since cat-friendly apartments in Manhattan, where management is typically less flexible, are less common. See more rentals in Sunset Park.
Harlem, Manhattan, $1,500/month
In Manhattan, apartment options renting at $1,500 a month are considerably more Spartan and rare, but there are options. For instance, this studio apartment at 117th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard is just a quick run through Morningside Park to Columbia University. True, the kitchenette, petite bathroom and, oh, probably 200-square-foot total of living space are going to depress someone who just arrived from Omaha, but you know what they say about New York (“if you can make it here …”). Central Park is a mere seven blocks away. As well, the apartment couldn’t be located better transit-wise as it’s right at the 116th Street B and C train stations and is about three blocks to the 2, 3. Even if you aren’t affiliated with Columbia, this unit is a great deal for a single person working in the city. The only place that’s a real schlep: Brooklyn, so if that’s where you like to hang, you might want to keep looking. See more rentals in Harlem.
East Village, Manhattan, $1,500/month
Finding an apartment in Manhattan below 110th Street — historically the benchmark dividing Harlem from prime Manhattan — for less than $1,500 is a challenge. This room, billed as a “single room occupancy” or SRO apartment is also what is known as a “bachelor,” meaning there is no kitchen. In this case, according to the listing, tenants “may add a small refrigerator and microwave and/or cooking plate if desired.” Hey, at least it has its own bathroom — many SROs involve sharing a bathroom. Laugh as you might, this type of a living arrangement has been undertaken by many an undiscovered artist who comes to New York seeking fame and/or fortune. Both Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman reportedly lived for many years in New York City in the equivalent of an SRO — a boarding house. As late as the 1950s, Suzanne Farrell, who would later become a prima ballerina with the New York City Ballet, lived with two sisters and her mother in an SRO on the Upper West Side with no kitchen or bathroom. If swayed by these perhaps romantic allusions, this unfurnished unit in the East Village can be yours, though the listing warns that “a guarantor or co-signer is required regardless of income… NO EXCEPTIONS.” So struggling dancers, actors and auteurs of various types, should start lining up an affluent aunt as guarantor, ASAP. See more rentals in the East Village.
Astoria, Queens, $1,500/month
In Queens, your $1,500 stretches pretty far — all the way to a new construction building with (gasp!) a balcony. This is an “alcove studio,” meaning there is technically no bedroom, but the bedroom area gets some privacy afforded by the “L”-shape of the space itself. This apartment has a lot of bells and whistles for the price, including an in-unit washer and dryer, walk-in closet and views, according to the listing. The building has a slew of amenities, as well: A gym, bicycle storage, rooftop lounge and parking are all on the list. The apartment is located in Astoria, a quaint but Manhattan-proximate corner of Queens with low crime, fresh markets and affordable dining. The bad news? The rent is net effective, meaning that the listed $1,500 a month rate may take into account the two free promised months. This year, the math works out, but next year the net effective rent could be higher. See more rentals in Astoria.
Riverdale, Bronx, $1,500/month
Meanwhile in the Bronx, the borough’s premiere leafy neighborhood of Riverdale has availability for a mere $1,400. This one bedroom with parquet floors and two double closets (plus a linen closet), seems to make good on its claim as an “ideal starter,” and has the bonus of newly renovated interiors. The listing promises George Washington Bridge views, which sounds romantic, but the accompanying photo makes it clear that this means there’s a highway outside of one window. The elevator complex also has extras not always seen at this price level: secured entry, a super, garage and laundry room. According to the listing, the building is “steps from the 1 train,” making a Manhattan commute pleasant enough. Although the exact address isn’t given, the listing also promises easy access to shopping and restaurants. See more rentals in Riverdale.