- Renters Guide
- For Owners
Cheap apartments in NYC exist, of course, though even the most affordable no fee apartments might seem expensive for people moving here from other parts of the country, or the world. That said, there certainly are budget apartments to be had, if you know where to look.
If you are looking for public housing, or apartments that accept programs, check out our Guide to Section 8 and Low Income Housing.
Here are a few places to start your search for inexpensive apartments:
Cheap Apartments the Rent Stabilized Way
More than one million NYC apartments are considered to be Rent Stabilized, which means that the landlord may only raise the rent by a certain percentage with each one- or two-year lease renewal, dictated each year by the city government after negotiations between tenants groups and the Rent Stabilization Board.
Tenants in Rent Stabilized apartments also enjoy an automatic lease renewal option, and must be allowed to continue to live in their home unless the landlord can show cause that the tenant has violated the terms of the lease. Rent Stabilized apartments often become available for considerably less than the current market price, and because they'll stay that way, needless to say, they move fast. Read our guide on Rental Agreements and Application Information to be sure you have everything you need to rent that apartment before someone else does!
Budget Apartments In "Up-and-Coming" Neighborhoods
One of the best ways to find inexpensive apartments in the NYC area is to look in neighborhoods that are in transition from an extended period of neglect to an era of revitalization and renewal. There are thousands of stories of New Yorkers who timed it just right, and moved into once decrepit/now-desirable neighborhoods such as Soho, the Lower East Side, Morningside Heights, Williamsburg, Long Island City (the list goes on and on), right BEFORE the community became hot, and rental prices doubled or tripled or more.
Predicting the next IT neighborhood is a favorite New York City pastime--Sunset Park, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Washington Heights, and Mott Haven, for example, have all made recent lists--and the Urban Edge Neighborhood Guide is a good place to get an overview of all of New York City's communities in all five boroughs.
Lowering Expenses via the Roommate Route
Many New Yorkers look for a roommate because they enjoy living with someone. Many, many, many more New Yorkers get a roommate because it's the only the way they can afford to live in that perfect apartment, in the that perfect neighborhood.
Cut the rent in half on that pretty one bedroom in Chelsea, for example, and suddenly it seems a little more doable. Take the living room as your sleeping area in the same one bedroom, charge your roommate 65% of the monthly rent for the privilege of having a door that closes, and you're saving even more. For more thoughts and tips on finding and living with roommates in New York City, see the Urban Edge Roommate Guide.
Rooms for Rent in NYC: A Cheap Apartment Alternative
Different than splitting an apartment with a roommate, finding a room for rent in someone else's home can be an excellent way to get a cheap living space in New York City. Rooms for rent in privately-owned houses and brownstones is fairly common in parts of Brooklyn and Queens and in certain neighborhoods in Manhattan.
For example, the owners of a brownstone, looking to get a little help on their mortgage payments, might rent out the front room of their ground floor, treating it like a small studio, with a bathroom and some sort of kitchen. You may share the front entrance with your landlord, and sometimes be granted access to any outdoor space in the back, but your room is treated as a separate unit within the larger home.
Another fairly common scenario is the owners of a spacious "traditional" apartment, such as three-bedroom, or a Classic 6, renting out one of their bedrooms, again usually to bring in a little cash. In these cases you are often given access to the kitchen, and have exclusive use one of the apartment's bathrooms, but the rest of the apartment is furnished and maintained and lived in by the owner.
And although they are pretty few and far between these days, there are certain buildings in New York City that still function like the old Single Room Occupancy hotels, in which you literally rent a single room off a common hallway—sometimes with a private bath, sometimes with a shared bath down the hall; sometimes with a sort of half-kitchen, sometimes without any sort of cooking appliances (BYO microwave, mini-fridge, coffee-maker, etc.).