Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   United States (
-   -   Living in NYC (

morialynn Jan 6th, 2006 09:34 AM

Living in NYC
I am considering relocating to NYC with a friend and was looking at apartments in the Washington Heights area. It is further north than where I would orginally choose, but the prices are a lot cheaper. Is this a nice area to live in? Is it safe? What are some other areas that would be good for a 24 year old on a budget to live in?

Gothampc Jan 6th, 2006 09:54 AM

It sort of depends what you mean by "on a budget". You might want to consider some of the boroughs. Look into Astoria Queens; Park Slope Brooklyn; Hoboken New Jersey. All have a very easy commute into Manhattan.

michelleNYC Jan 6th, 2006 10:48 AM

"Budget"... oh so subjective. What, exactly, is your budget for rent?

bmw732002 Jan 6th, 2006 11:10 AM

Washington Heights is going thru a transistion. That might mean to some that it still may be a bit dicey at night!

Look a bit further up the 'A" train line to Inwood! Also an area in transistion but well on its way to being a great place to find an apartment with a good connection to Manhattan (yea I know it is in Manhattan..but I mean connection to "midtown manhattan"


nytraveler Jan 6th, 2006 11:37 AM

Washington Heights is gentrifying. Some blocks are good, others not so good. A lot of people are buying apartment there - counting on what they'll be worth in 5 years.

How safe you will feel depends in large part on where you're from and what you're used to. I would consider it generally safe - but would not be as comfortable out on the street alone at night at I do where I live now (upper west side).

morialynn Jan 12th, 2006 09:07 AM

What I mean by budget is that the highets i would go is 2000 for a 2 bedroom. i would perfer to stay under that if possible.

marilynl Jan 12th, 2006 09:42 AM

I'm by no means an expert, but did help my 22-year-old daughter move to New York last summer. It was certainly an eye-opening experience.

Some areas might provide more space and a better commute, depending on where you will be working. Your move-in costs may be much higher than you are expecting: usually 3 months rent plus a broker fee of 10% to 15% of the first year's rent. You must be able to show some multiple--I think it was 4 or 5 times!--the annual rent in income, or have a co-signer. For example, my daughter and her roommate have $86,000 in income, but most prospective landlords still wanted financial info from my husband and me. They ended up with a place on a nice block in Park Slope Brooklyn in a family 3-flat--MUCH bigger than you could find in Manhattan for the money and safe and clean but not really rehabbed, ie, linoleum floors, ugly bathroom tile, NO closets, etc.--for $1600 a month. The cost to move in was: 3 x $1600 plus 12% brokers fee, or $2400, or $7200!

They like Park Slop a lot, and both are actually working in Brooklyn, but they still sometimes wish they had been able to find something they could swing in the East Village/Murray Hill/Lower East Side area. But that is the land of miniscule apartments, requiring a wall to be built to yield something 2 people can share, and approval is even harder!

Scarlett Jan 12th, 2006 09:58 AM

A year and a half ago, it was hard to find a studio for $2,000. a month in Manhattan.
My sons friends live in Brooklyn and one lives in Hoboken. The Brooklyn kids have a huge apt that they share, the Hoboken is a one bedroom and costs a bit more but he can take the Ferry to NYC for work, a bit easier than subways some days.
Good luck, personally, I would avoid Washington Heights.

wyatt92 Jan 12th, 2006 10:04 AM

I have friends who live in Washington Heights and they really like it. Commute to midtown area is not bad and, of course, more bang for your buck. They both have fairly large 2 bdrm apts.

Jean_Valjean Jan 12th, 2006 10:09 AM

I'd say that $2,000 a month for a 2 bedroom in Manhattan is not realistic... not even in less desirable areas. Studios are around $1500-2000, one beds from 1800-3000. A 2 bedroom apartment would be an absolute steal at $2,000 (either that or it will not be a 'true' 2 bedroom... more like a partitioned living room in a 1 bedroom).

Now, if you're sharing and YOUR share can go up to $2000, that's a different story.

Sarah Jan 12th, 2006 11:04 AM

I think the big question is do you have some time to come to the city and explore your options without a broker? There are a lot of young buyers in the city that want to rent out the apartment they bought as an investment. When interest rates dipped down as you know long time renters purchased properties.

Upper East side has options (70-90's 2nd to York Avenues further east beta deals). I know a few people who rent studios well under 1400. One friend in particular could not find anyone to rent his studio for 1200. He finally went to a broker because no one was coming to him through the paper. Not a doorman building but exposed brick and refinished (to give you an idea of the space).

I think you are going to run into people wanting to take advantage of you if you are trying to secure this from another state or if you have a parent acting on your behalf.

Brokers will always try to bleed you. Seems as though its easier to go through a broker until you see that you are looking at a mediocre apartment with scads of others. That was my experience when I measured broker and rent by owner options (1998).

nytraveler Jan 12th, 2006 11:55 AM

Other posters are correct. In Manhattan - even Inwood/Washington Heights a 2-bedroom apartment in a safe/pleasant (as opposed to one you really couldn;t live in) for $2000 or less will be a one-bedroom dividied - or one "bedroom" will be the dining area. And it may well be a 5th floor walk-up. (In my middle class building on the upper west side a 2 bedroom recently sublet for $4200 - but it is a pre-war building with large apartments.)

Also - with first, last and security you will need at lesat $6000 to start - if you go with a broker it will be closer to $9000.

Since so many young singles/couples break up/move around frequently - and the landlord doesn't want to be left with one person who can't afford the apartment - they require you to show incomes at least 4 times the rent. And, if you're very young or recently in the job they may well also require cosigners.

Suggest you also search Hoboken, Astoria and possibly Brooklyn (although that's still low for the best, most convenient areas).

mclaurie Jan 12th, 2006 12:17 PM

I hope you're concentrating on jobs first. Any landlord will want proof of income that you can afford the place. Without a job, it doesn't matter where you want to live, you won't get an apartment. Once you have jobs, it will be easier to choose which the best affordable area would be.

Washington Heights would mean being something of a pioneer. Those that came before you have already done that pioneering in the places mentioned (Brooklyn, Astoria, other areas of Queens and parts of New Jersey).

Certain of these areas develop with young professionals based on where they work. For example, the commute from Hoboken is easy to downtown Manhattan so you'll find lots of young Wall st. people there.

Another area to consider that no one's mentioned is West New York/Weehawken, New Jersey. I don't know what if any social scene is there, but there's very easy commutation into midtown Manhattan via bus, there are many high rise apt. buildings (many condos that get rented out by owners), some with amazing Manhattan skyline views.

But bottom line, get jobs first, then decide where to live.

seetheworld Jan 12th, 2006 12:28 PM

Here's a list of questions that my son took under consideration when he was apartment hunting. He lives in Hoboken, overlooking the river and the Empire State Building. While rents may be cheaper than in NYC, you will not find a bargain.

Hope this helps...

Questions For Apartment Lease

1. Need three party 12 month lease. Should have 60 day vacate notice with renewal option.
2. How much are application fees? Are there any other fees associated with lease?
3. Should be no more then one month security, if they want more need to negotiate.
4. Real estate agent fee no more then one month rent, try to negotiate and have landlord pick up half. Make sure that real estate agent does not have a clause that if you renew lease you need to pay fee again.
5. What does apartment include air conditioning, washer & dryer, dishwasher microwave etc. Square footage average size 1300 ft should have two bathrooms. Check size of all bedrooms each should have closet and window.
6. What is approximate cost of heat and electric?
7. Condition of apartment and appliances kitchen, bathroom, carpets cleaned or replaced, painted before move in.
8. Landlord should be responsible for working condition and repair of heat, hot water plumbing and all appliances.
9. Cost of parking.
10. What is move in policy.
11. Security.
12. Insurance requirements

michelleNYC Jan 12th, 2006 12:33 PM

Gee, I was assuming you were coming with jobs... if not, Uh, that MUST be your first step. If you are, well, $2000 is not, even under some of the worst conditions, going to get you a two bdrm. If you can push it up another $750-1k, perhaps.

nytraveler Jan 12th, 2006 01:00 PM

Seetheworld -

Good list of questions. But most do not apply to Manhattan - esp if the rent is $2000. That is definitely basic - and you won;t get W/D or DW, AC will be in the window or wall and you pay (elec bill in the summer will be $200 plus per month unless you like to sweat) and agents don;t negotiate. And you won;t need parking because you can't afford a car (or the insurance or garage cost).

Other areas - many more of these will apply.

seetheworld Jan 12th, 2006 01:13 PM

The bottom line is that there is much more to consider than just the per month rent. I think a lot of first-time apartment hunters (young, fresh out of school, and the real kicker, without secure employment) are very naive in what they can afford to live in.

Nobody budgets like my son. Or at least I haven't met anyone who does (well, other than my husband, LOL).

And yes, he needed to verify his salary and we (parents) did not have to co-sign.

morialynn Jan 16th, 2006 08:02 AM

Both my roommate and I are able to be transfered, so we both do have jobs. Also we have someone we have talked to who would be avaible to cosign if needed. I talked to my friend who lived in the East Village and she explained to me about all the other fees. After looking on websights like craigslist and the village voice there seems to be apartments in my price range. I realize that they will be very small and will not have washer/dryer and a dishwasher, but neither does my apartment right now. I guess what I was wondering is why these webisghts are showing apartments in my price range, but it is unrealistic to find apartments in my price range. Is there something I am not getting? Also neither of use will have a car so we need to live in a place where we will not need one.

Sarah Jan 16th, 2006 09:14 AM


That is not what I said if you scroll back. If you are seeing opportunities on craig's list I think you know what that means about other contrary advice you are seeing.

It's great that you are taking the plunge and adding something new to your life. Come on when you have made the transition and tell us how its going.

Welcome to the most exciting city on the planet!

mclaurie Jan 16th, 2006 09:15 AM

Without knowing what the websites are or what you're seeing it's hard to comment. But keep in mind real estate ads are notorious for making things sound dramatically better than they are. If you have a friend who lived in the east village, he/she should be able to tell you whether the ads sounds realistic or not.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:52 AM.