The 4 NYC Neighborhoods Where You Can Actually Afford a 1-Bedroom
Remember that time you had that adorable little bedroom on the Upper West? And then your landlord jacked up the rent 150%? So you moved to Williamsburg, where you found an equally adorable little spot to call your own. And then your landlord jacked up the rent 250%. So then you moved to Astoria, and now, with the looming end of your current lease and the two new massive apartment buildings in the works, you fear history is bound to repeat itself. So... where are you going to go? HOBOKEN?!?! Fear not. We tracked down four realtors with The Corcoran Group who have a few tips on where you can still find an affordable apartment in NYC so you don’t have to move to New Jersey.
One of New York’s most well-known neighborhoods, Harlem is packed with NYC history and culture. From beautiful brownstones, jazz clubs, banging Caribbean and soul food, and historic landmarks like the Apollo Theater, anyone who wants a slice of REAL NYC will find it in Harlem. “Harlem is definitely its own brand, but I liken it more to what the old Downtown neighborhoods used to be,” says realtor Julia Boland. “It’s very diverse with a lot of creativity, the restaurant scene is booming, and there’s a sense on the street that things are happening. It’s not necessarily super young like Bushwick and Bed-Stuy, but a lot of professionals live there, like established artists and actors.” Also... no tourists.
Average one-bedroom rent: $2,500/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Harlem residents love their hideaway of killer restaurants and bars in their own enclave north of Columbia. For burgers and shakes and LOTS of Harlem paraphernalia visit Harlem Shake. Or you could stop by Streetbird Rotisserie for a crispy bird sandwich. Other places of note include The Grange Bar & Eatery, Londel’s, and Shrine World Music Venue.
Public transportation situation: You pretty much have every train at your disposal, depending on where in Harlem you live. East Harlem residents have the 4,5,6, while Central Harlem dwellers have the 2,3,A,C,B,D and way West Harlemers have the 1. So basically... you can get anywhere.
While every neighborhood in NYC claims to hold the title of “melting pot,” this is actually true the farther north you go in Manhattan, specifically the adjacent neighborhoods of Washington Heights and Inwood -- the veritable “ends of the Earth.” These two northernmost ‘hoods in Manhattan are still up-and-coming, and what they lack in abundant goods/services, they make up for in ample apartment space. And still, the goods and services are slowly making their ways north. It’s only a matter of time before you’ll hear the words “Washington Heights,” “Inwood,” and “trendy” in the same sentence.
“Everyone is getting priced out of lower Manhattan and even Brooklyn so they are happily willing to explore neighborhoods further north, with the hope of staying in Manhattan,” says realtor Kelly Cole. “As a result, prices have gone up. That always happens. But more importantly the goods and services are coming in bigger numbers. Anyone mindful of their budget wanting more space without having to leave the city will be attracted to these neighborhoods. They are quickly changing. This really is the final frontier in Manhattan. Their stories haven’t been written yet.”
Average one-bedroom rent: Washington Heights -- $1,999/mo; Inwood -- $1,650/mo
Bar and restaurant scene: Though not quite as hopping as its neighbors to the south, Washington Heights and Inwood still have plenty of eat-and-drink gems that keep the locals smiling. Buddha Beer Bar is one of these places. Go to here for local craft beers, burgers, and 10 (10!) types of wings. Other great burgers can also be found at Burger Heights and Piper’s Kilt. For something a little classier, try tapas and cocktails at Marcha. Dyckman Bar is also a must, but only if you like dancing, drinking, and Jenga (not necessarily in that order).
Public transportation situation: You will be relying on the A or the 1. That’s... pretty much it.
South of Park Slope is a neighborhood that can still be defined as “real” Brooklyn. Back in the day it was home to many Irish, Polish, Finnish, and Norwegian immigrant families, and eventually Italians and Germans joined in. Today, it’s also home to Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, as well as people from other Latin American and Caribbean countries. It is also home to Brooklyn’s first Chinatown. And, let’s not forget the growing “hipster” scene with the development of Industry City, a massive space of rentable creative, office, and manufacturing space. Artists and musicians now flock to the neighborhood, especially on Sundays for the famous Mister Sunday dance parties.
“Sunset Park was, and continues to be, one of the most eclectic neighborhoods in Brooklyn,” says realtor Peter Bracichowicz. “It is home to people of all nationalities and backgrounds. But lately it is attracting people like artists, professionals, and families. It has a beautiful park, and life buzzes around it.”
Average one-bedroom rent: $1,500-1,800/month
Bar and restaurant scene: Take a tour of the world in Sunset Park with some of the best ethnic eats around. For a bomb bowl of pho head to Thanh Dah, located on the edge of Chinatown. The best Mexican will be at El Tenampa, where you’re getting the enchiladas. And for dim sum brunch head to East Harbor Seafood Palace. Other dim sum notables include New Spring Garden, Bamboo Garden, and Park Asia.
Public transportation situation: Three subway lines run through Sunset Park. The D, N, and R lines have stations at 25th St, 36th St, 45th St, 53rd St, and 59th St. The D also has a station at 9th Ave. The N line has two additional stations at 8th Ave and Fort Hamilton Parkway.
Bay Ridge is still a largely middle-class neighborhood (yes, a middle class DOES exist in New York), home to families that have lived there for generations. Its roots take it back to Ireland, Lebanon, and Norway, and today there are still large Irish, Italian, and Greek populations, as well as Russians, Polish people, and some Chinese. And the neighborhood keeps evolving as more and more young people migrate south. “Once we got our second Starbucks I felt like we were on the map,” says realtor Diane Henning. “There are rare, wonderful, new restaurants opening along 3rd Ave, and there are those that have been there forever, too. The neighborhood has lots of places for parking, parks, a bike run, great shopping. It’s almost like living in the country.”
Average one-bedroom rent: $1,500-1,700. Henning notes that Bay Ridge has a variety of types of rentals. Some are apartment buildings and some are in two-, three- and four-bedroom historic homes like old Victorian buildings, so there’s a range of styles from which to choose.
Bar and restaurant scene: There’s a little bit of the old, like Gino’s or Chadwick’s, which are neighborhood institutions. And then there’s a little bit of the new, like the Brooklyn Beet Company. A glorious burger can be found at The Burger Bistro. The best bars are Three Jolly Pigeons and Lock Yard. Or, if you prefer your beer from a boot, visit Schnitzel Haus. And for something sweet, go to Leske’s for the peanut butter and jelly donuts.
Public transportation situation: The R train is the main subway artery in Bay Ridge, running between Bay Ridge Ave and 95th St.
Sign up here for our daily NYC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun New York has to offer.