Everyone hears about the high rent you have to pay to live in NYC. While some people enjoy having a roommate, others (especially the older one gets) want to live alone. But with sky high prices being charged for rent, are roommates a necessity in NYC?
Every week there seems to be a new set of statistics about the strength of the NYC rental market–rents are on their way up, vacancies are at record lows, landlords are offering fewer concessions than ever. One side effect of this resurgence in the NYC (-area) rental apartment market? Fewer and fewer people here are living alone. Of course, there are many factors that have led to the increase in roommates–or, as the Daily News puts it, “rental relationships”–in this part of the country, even among traditionally-solo-living Manhattan-ites.
But the same factors that have led many to think about renting an apartment instead of buying condos or co-ops–tight credit, lower consumer confidence, less job security–are also contributing to the rise in roommates, especially among professional adults. In fact, the percentage of Manhattan residents living alone, while still the highest in the country, and more than 20 percentage points higher than the national average, is at the lowest point in more than a decade, at 46.3 percent.
Surprised by that number? One thing that factors into more local residents living alone than the national average: apartments in Manhattan are skewed towards smaller floor plans (no surprise). 80% are studios and one bedrooms, 15% are two bedrooms and 5% are 3 bedrooms and larger. Of course, that doesn’t stop a lot of people from sharing 1 bedrooms (the infamous “flex 2″ or “convertible 2″), and even studios. Another factor: trust funds, and parents who help pay the rent. A lot of young people in Manhattan who would otherwise need a roommate, are able to live alone with some help from the family.
And now the the stronger rental market has jumped the Hudson River.
The New York Times reported recently that New Jersey rental apartments are, in their words, “flying off the shelves” in neighborhoods such as Jersey City and Hoboken, and even as far away as Princeton. In fact, says the Times, “bidding wars” for New Jersey rental apartments and, especially, it seems, for NJ rental houses in suburbs like Summit and Short Hills, are now commonplace, with prospective tenants offering to pay a whole year’s rent upfront, or to voluntarily increase their rent. Crazy.
So, back to the question: are roommates a necessity in NYC? Young professionals and those with lower paying jobs are obviously much more likely to have a roommate. It really comes down to budget, and tradeoffs. Maybe you choose to live alone in the outerboroughs or suburbs, rather than have a roommate in a trendy Manhattan neighborhood. Or perhaps you choose to live alone in a walk-up, rather than a luxury doorman building. But if your budget is $1300 or less, and you insist on living in an apartment anywhere in Manhattan below 96th Street, then yes, you almost certainly must have a roommate.
If you are going the roommate route, check out the Roommate Search Guide on the Urban Edge website–lots of tips and suggestions to avoid the “roommate from hell.”
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