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Armchair Apartment Hunting: What You Get for $3,500

See what your money will get you in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx -- the deals may shock you

By the time a prospective New York City renter has $3,500 a month to spend on an apartment, concerns move from basic survival towards the bells and whistles. The good news is that in four out of five New York City neighborhoods that we surveyed, $3,500 nabs you a number of amenities, including coveted outdoor space. Just keep in mind that $3,500 is only a bit over the current average Manhattan apartment’s rent of $3,000 per month, a figure that seems to be inching ever upward despite the sluggish economy. Read on for our lowdown of what you can expect across New York City — in two distinct Manhattan neighborhoods, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx — for around $3,500.

 

Midtown $3,400 a month

What you get in Midtown for $3,400 a month

Manhattan, $3,400 a month

In the popular Union Square area of Manhattan a mere $3,400 will net you this convertible three-bedroom in an elevator building with condominium-style finishes. This apartment features granite counters, stainless steel appliances, a dishwasher, microwave and “tons of closet space,” per the listing. On top of that, the building — which has laundry and concierge services — will pay your utilities, saving you a couple hundred a month. The only drawbacks: 1,000 square feet is not a lot of space for a three bedroom. And the floorplan is arranged in such a way that the apartment’s future inhabitants should probably like one another pretty well, as all the bedrooms share a wall with at least one other bedroom. But for a family or band of friends who get along well, the great location might be enough to make it work. On top of the plush amenities, the unit is rent-stabilized, meaning there are restrictions on hiking up the rent. The area is also full of restaurants, shopping and has a Whole Foods market. Subways are a dream with the L, N, Q, R, 4, 5 and 6 at Union Square. Take away: Act now! See more rentals in Midtown.

 

Williamsburg $3,400 a month

What you get in Williamsburg for $3,400 a month

Brooklyn, $3,400 a month

In nearby hipster haven of Williamsburg, you get a surprisingly different home for your $3,400. Albeit with almost none of the amenities Manhattanites typically seek, this quaint one-bedroom does offer a yard more than twice the size of the Manhattan apartment described above. That yard comes completely furnished and includes a barbecue. For entertaining types, the apartment offers not just the leafy, 2,125-square-foot backyard, but an eat-in kitchen and wood-burning fireplace. Built-in furnishings like cabinets, shelves and a desk compliment the home office. Like many ground floor apartments, the ceilings seem low and the light is not great. The area — near the Bedford L stop — is teeming with boutiques, cafes and restaurants, and as a result gets crowded on the weekends. The L stop in question is also just one away from Manhattan, which is great for nearness, but expect a packed morning commute. Take away: The yard’s great, but this seems high for a one-bedroom with low ceilings and minimal amenities. See more rentals in Williamsburg.

 

Bronx for $3,300 a month

What you get in Riverdale for $3,300 a month

Bronx, $3,300 a month

This spacious three bedroom in a high-rise building sets you back just $3,300 a month and seems like the perfect fit for a family on a budget (by New York standards, of course). The listing doesn’t specify how large “large” is, but photos show a kitchen Manhattanites would salivate over and a decently apportioned living room. The 2.5 bathrooms and a fourth room that can serve as an office, nursery or extra bedroom, also help make this apartment decidedly humane. The building amenities include a 24-hour doorman, concierge, pool, parking, outdoor space and a fitness center — a reminder of how far your dollar stretches in the Bronx. Upper middle class Riverdale is also a fantastic area to settle down and raise kids, with the lowest crime and the highest real estate values in the borough. Of course, getting there is half the problem. While the neighborhood offers spectacular views of Manhattan from the peaks in its many parks, the only transportation to the green, secluded enclave is the 1 train (not an express train) and the Metro-North (a commuter railroad that leaves from Grand Central Station). Take away: If you’re over 35 and don’t party every night in the city, do it! See more rentals in Riverdale.

 

Queens for $3,480 a month

What you get in Long Island City for $3,480 a month

Queens, $3,480 a month

Long Island City has sprouted a number of luxury towers with impressive arsenals of amenities of late. Many of those towers, visible and highly accessible from Manhattan, are aggressively courting residents at the moment. This one appears to be no exception: It is the only apartment with no broker fee in the listings Newyork.com reviewed. For $3,480 per month, a resident gets floor-to-ceiling windows, a roof deck with barbecues and misting showers and a two-story gym with a squash room and a basketball court, with an option to upgrade (likely for a fee) to an apartment with an in-unit washer-dryer and/or a balcony. The two-bed, two bath listing also says it can be converted to a three bedroom, though it isn’t clear if this requires building a wall (which some buildings will allow) or if an office or other space can be appropriated for sleep. The building also has bike storage and parking — flourishes becoming de rigueur in newly constructed outer borough buildings. Until five years ago, Long Island City was largely industrial, with hard to navigate streets and a number of rundown buildings. But in recent years the area has seen a significant boom in residential building and added priceless amenities like M. Wells Dinette, which is in the MoMa PS1 museum. The downside is that the neighborhood is slated to add thousands of residents in the coming years, stretching local resources. But if you are renting, not buying, you should take advantage of all the burgeoning neighborhood has to be offer, not the least of which is lightning-fast transit to the east side of Midtown. Take away: Do it and take up squash. See more rentals in Queens.

 

Harlem for $,3475 a month

What you get in Harlem for $3,475 a month

Harlem, $3,475 a month

Speaking of neighborhoods coming into their own, all eyes have been on Harlem for decades. With beautiful brownstones and proximity to Central Park, it’s only logical for the area to gentrify. But until recently, the neighborhood has crept along in fits and starts, with irradicable pockets of crime and unsightly homes dotting some streets. Things have been changing though, as symbolized by Red Rooster, the latest Marcus Samuelsson restaurant that premiered two years ago, which, in synergy with rising real estate values post-recession, appears to have perked up the neighborhood for good. This $3,475 two-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment may be one of the last opportunities in an area where prices are primed to skyrocket. The building is loaded: central air conditioning, a doorman, bike storage, a gym, an option for a washer-dryer and a playroom are included. Units feature hardwood floors and open layouts with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Transport to and from Harlem is excellent, with three lines within walking distance, as well as a Metro-North stop. And the listing says the tree-lined street is near Central Park — the city’s ultimate amenity. Take away: Write the broker a check today. See more rentals in Harlem.