NYC Apartments - What Can Renters Afford?

Apartments for Rent in NYC Between $1,500 - $2,500 per Month? See What You Can Get Living Alone vs Sharing with a Roomate

New York City Brooklyn Bridge

In New York City, the saying goes, you either pay for location or you pay for size. It's a rarity to score both.

The median rent in NYC is $2,401 – over $1,000 more than the U.S. median, and this is expected to experience another 4.3% increase this year. Given the ever-changing market, where to find the best bang for your buck?

3 boroughs. Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens – at 3 price points ( $1,500, $2,000 and $2,500 per person ) and see what you can get when living alone in NYC versus sharing an apartment with one of your mates in the city that never sleeps.

Manhattan Rentals

$1,500 / Month

  • Alone ( Manhattan - $1,500 )

    Looking to live a bit outside of the hustle and bustle of the city? Neighborhoods such as Inwood, Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights provide renters with the best bang for their buck.

    Once home to Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, the area offers less pricey studios and one-bedroom apartments with charming terra-cotta details and roman arches. However, at these price points, don’t expect elevators or laundry rooms.

    For those looking for upgraded amenities, seek Washington Heights units for features such as modern appliances, updated fixtures, private bathrooms, full kitchens and on-site storage rooms.

    If you're looking to live in the heart of the city, like the Upper West Side, Chelsea and East Village, renters will receive the bare minimum at this price, sacrificing space for location, it isn’t surprising to see share hallway bathrooms and kitchens.

  • Shared ( Manhattan - $3,000 combined )

    At $3,000, Upper Manhattan offers the most inventory for those looking to share a two-bedroom apartment. In Harlem, prospective tenants can find three and four-bedroom units for under $3,000, featuring desirable amenities, such as large bedrooms, hardwood flooring and utilities included in the rent.

    If you're looking to live closer to the heart of the city, the Garment District, Midtown and Clinton are your best bet. Or, if you're willing to use the living room or den as a second bedroom in a one-bedroom unit, expand your search to the Upper East Side, Midtown West and East and Murray Hill. While units in central Manhattan are slim, hidden gems in the Upper West Side with easy access to Columbia University and Central Park.

Manhattan Brownstone Apartments
$2,000 / Month

  • Alone ( Manhattan - $2,000 )

    While square footage remains tight, an additional $500 provides renters with more flexibility. The Upper East and West Side, East Village, Lower East Side and West Village offer upgraded appliances, full kitchens, built-in storage, additional square footage and private bathrooms.

    At this price point, buildings amenities are also more readily available, with mail rooms, gyms, video intercom and utilities often included in the rent. For those looking to live a little bit outside of the city, renting in Harlem offers residents even more building amenities, like multiple communal outdoor spaces, bike storage and onsite staff for your convenience.

  • Shared ( Manhattan - $4,000 combined )

    With an additional $1,000, prospective tenants can kick pre-war stair climbing and closet-sized kitchens to the curb.

    A $4,000 budget enables renters to expand their search to the Upper East Side, Midtown East and West, Murray Hill, Gramercy Park, East Village and the Lower East Side. Up to $3,600 a month, check out Kips Bay, Hell's Kitchen, Upper East Side, Upper West Side and Midtown East.

    While most buildings offer a 24-hour doorman, gym, outdoor patio and communal lounges, the dollar stretches further when renting in Harlem where large bedrooms, walk-in closets, beautiful hardwood flooring and washer and dryers in unit are the norm.

$2,500 / Month

  • Alone ( Manhattan - $2,500 )

    At $2,500, urban dwellers are sure to find studio or one-bedroom apartments in desirable neighborhoods, such as the Upper West Side, Upper East Side, Midtown West and East, Murray Hill, Gramercy Park, East Village, the Lower East Side and SoHo.

    You will come across a plethora of furnished studio apartments available in Chelsea at this price point. In fact, most of the buildings are modern or remodeled and sport high-end amenities, such as elevators, full-time doormen, private balconies, parking, designer kitchens and ample closet space, to name a few.

    Most rentals are closer to 600 square feet, which is mansion-like, compared to the 150-square-foot units found at the $1,500 price point.

  • Share ( Manhattan - $5,000 )

    At $5,000, renters can search in all the neighborhoods listed above, with the addition of Greenwich Village. Below are Manhattan neighborhoods with the most expensive two-bedroom rentals, within a $5,000 price range.
    New York Skyline Aerial View
    • Garment District: $4,995
    • Theater District/Times Square: $4,898
    • Tudor City: $4,475
    • West Village: $4,500
    • Stuyvesant Town: $4,328

    It should be noted that two-bedroom units in Battery Park City, Flatiron District and NoHo all have a median rental value over $6,000.

Apartments in Brooklyn

$1,500 / Month

  • Alone ( Brooklyn - $1,500 )

    At one time, renters escape to Brooklyn to avoid the soaring Manhattan real estate prices. While the real estate landscape has changed over the past couple of years, Brooklyn still provides renters with more square footage at similar price points.

    With utilities included for most rental units, as well as shared laundry rooms, private bathroom and fully-equipped kitchen, residents looking to spend $1,000 to $1,500 have a plethora of studio and one-bedroom units to choose from.

    Fort Hamilton, Greenpoint, Park Slope and Williamsburg are all trending neighborhoods in Brooklyn where tenants can score units for under $1,500. One advantage of living in Brooklyn is access to private outdoor spaces.

  • Brooklyn Apartments

  • Shared ( Brooklyn - $3,000 combined )

    Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, Ocean Hill and Clinton Hill are four neighborhoods with a high concentration of two- and three-bedroom units. To get the most bang for your buck, look to southern Brooklyn.

    In Manhattan Beach and Coney Island, tenants can find two-bedroom, two-bathroom units with over 1,000 square feet for under $2,000. In contrast, tenants with more flexible budgets should look to northern and northwestern Brooklyn, in neighborhoods like Fort Greene, Greenpoint, Bushwick, Park Slope and Williamsburg.

$2,000 / Month

  • Alone ( Brooklyn - $2,000 )

    An extra $500 a month on rent goes a long way in Brooklyn. Renters can expand their search to Crown Heights, Park Slope and Clinton Hill. If you're looking to live in either Park Slope or Williamsburg, residents are likely to pay on the higher end of the spectrum, but the amenities and ample square footage makes up for the steeper price point.

  • Share ( Brooklyn - $4,000 combined )

    In comparison to the 47 percent of Manhattan residents who pay $4,000 or more on a two-bedroom unit, only 11 percent of Brooklyn tenants pay this much or more for rent.

    With a combined budget of 4 grand, it's easy to find a two-bed, two-bath rental with unique accommodations - such as private rooftop decks, plenty of closet space and kitchen islands.

    Popular neighborhoods include Williamsburg, Park Slope, Green Point, Cobble Hill, Bushwick, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus and Boerum Hill.

$2,500 / Month

  • Alone ( Brooklyn - $2,500 )

    For $2,500 a month, single tenant residents have a comprehensive variety of rentals to choose from. In northwestern Brooklyn, Park Slope and Carroll Gardens are two popular neighborhoods due to their close proximity to main subways, quality nightlife and restaurants. If you want more modern services in high-rise communities, the majority of units in these neighborhoods start at $2,500 and continue rising in price.

  • Brooklyn Neighborhoods Dumbo and Williamsburg

  • Share ( Brooklyn - $5,000 combined )

    The majority of apartments at this price point are located in northern and northwestern Brooklyn, as well as parts of central Brooklyn. Desirable neighborhoods include Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn, where the average rent goes for $4,402 and $4,500 per month.

    These neighborhoods are popular among tenants looking for either luxury brownstones or modern apartment buildings, neighborhood amenities and waterfront parks accompanied by sweeping panoramic views.

    While a budget of $5,000 enables renters to indulge in quality living, those looking to rent in DUMBO should expect to pay the big bucks, as this is the most expensive neighborhood for Brooklyn renters in search of studio, one- and two-bedroom units.

Apartments for Rent in Queens

Queens New York Waterfront
In comparison to Manhattan and Brooklyn, Queens has a lower median rent of $2,246. Queens is also the largest of New York City's five boroughs, and further from the heart of the city, offering generous square footage at a less expensive price point.

$1,500 / Month

  • Alone ( Queens - $1,500 )

    In Long Island City you can find one-bedrooms for $900 or less, and in the newly-renovated buildings, one-bedroom units typically start at $1,200.

    Neighboring Long Island City, rentals in Astoria typically starts out at $1,400 due to the neighborhood’s rising popularity and fast commute to Manhattan. Other neighborhoods in Queens where renters can find a studio or one-bedroom unit within this price point include Kew Gardens, Middle Village, Briarwood, Forest Hills, Flushing and Jackson Park.

  • Shared ( Queens - $3,000 )

    In Queens, two-bedroom units within a $3,000 price range are easy to come by. While Astoria offers the most inventory, living in this northwestern neighborhood comes at a price, as Astoria holds the highest median rental value in Queens. Oddly enough, this neighborhood’s two-bedroom median rent value of $2,376 is a low compared to Astoria's one-bedroom median value of $1,900. When looking to rent in Astoria, having a roommate pays off, literally. Beyond Astoria, central neighborhoods like Ridgewood and Glendale also offer a large volume of two- and three-bedroom units with ample square footage and modern conveniences.

$2,000 / Month

  • Alone ( Queens - $2,000 )

    At a $2,000 price point, you'll find a wide array of amenities, such as parking, laundry rooms, elevators, doormen, gym and storage rooms in neighborhoods like Rego Park, Jamaica, Kew Gardens, Jackson Heights and Forest Hills. Outside of these neighborhoods, Long Island City and Astoria rank among the most expensive neighborhoods to reside, but you're sure to find in-unit laundry, state-of-the-art appliances and private terraces. Both of these neighborhoods are located near public transportation, making these neighborhoods desirable for tenants.

  • Shared ( Queens - $4,000 combined )

    With a $4000 budget, tenants can expect units to come standard with stainless steel appliances, luxurious backsplashes and roomy closets.
    Manhattan View from Long Island City
    Northwest Queens is a trending area to rent two- and three-bedroom units, and Long Island City, located in the western most region of Queens, is a hot spot thanks to its proximity to Manhattan, modern rentals and vibrant art scene. If you're looking for rental units in Jamaica, it should be noted that the closer you get to JFK and LaGuardia Airports, the cheaper you pay in rent.

$2,500 / Month

  • Alone ( Queens - $2,500 )

    For $2,500, multiple studio and one-bedroom apartments are available in northwestern Queens.

    In Long Island City, the majority of buildings offer state-of-the-art fitness centers, dry-cleaning, private workout rooms, dog grooming and walking services, theater rooms and underground parking garages.

    For those looking to live in a trendy, up-and-coming neighborhood, look for rental properties in Hunters Point. This boutique neighborhood features a plethora of buildings with shared rooftops, private terraces with enough room for furniture, stainless steel kitchens and in-unit laundry machines.

  • Shared ( Queens - $5,000 combined)

    Long Island City, Queens’ most popular and expensive neighborhood, typically touts the highest rents. With a budget of $5,000, tenants reap luxurious benefits when renting in Long Island City, Ridgewood and Astoria.

    At this price point renters can consider renting homes. Individuals looking to avoid high-rise communities or the hustle and bustle of the city should consider Forest Hills, where you'll find detached houses and sprawling Tudor and Victorian-style mansions. Flushing and Rego Park are two other neighborhoods where it's not uncommon to find a four- to five-bedroom homes with more than four bathrooms and 1,800 square feet for under $5,000 a month.

According to Zillow's most recent data, New York is ranked as the fourth least affordable metro in the United States. Therefore, when searching for rentals in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, you'll get the most bang for your buck by living with roommates.

If you crave a buzzing city atmosphere, consider moving to Manhattan, or, if you're in the market for extra square footage, private outdoor space or trendy restaurants, Brooklyn is likely your best bet.

For those comfortable living further from the city, Queens offers a less expensive rental market and plethora of cultural attractions. Whether you have an interest in real estate or are looking to rent in New York City, finding the path to your perfect rental is easier with the right resources. Check out Zillow's rent guide to supplement your search.