As an under 20 something, you move to New York for one of three reasons….

1. To become rich and famous
2. To go to university
3. To work for some company you probably don’t like, but it brings you to New York so you are sucking it up.

All of the above mean that you, like most of the people who flock to the city each year, are not rolling in cash and need to find somewhere decent to live for a humane price.

In pretty much 99.9% of the world, this would be a relatively easy task. New York on the other hand has continued to lower living standards and raise living costs to a point of no return and the process of finding a roof to sleep under is not as easy as you think.

Yes, you can get a super cheap room if you live in a ghetto neighborhood and have the always eminent possibility of being shot.
Yes, you can get a super cheap room if you are prepared to not have a kitchen, share your bathroom with 15 randoms and sleep on the floor.
Yes, you can get a super cheap room if you live an hour away from any form of public transportation and don’t want to have a social life and get Pneumonia the winter.

But for those of us, who value any small morsel of life and would like to live as close to a normal existence as New York allows, then there are a few things that will be handy to know.

Moving to New York myself, the only direction I was given was “live off the L train and no further than the Morgan stop.” After  a few years now though, there are a hell of a lot more local rules that I wish someone had explained to me when first naively rocked up to the city gates:

Live here if you are artistically inclined, a hipster, into music or consider yourself a pretty hip ‘under 30 year old.’ After being gentrified to the max, Williamsburg (considered the are from the L train Bedford Stop to the L Montrose Stop) is now the home to a cluster of ‘suffering artists.’ The area itself is super safe and there is a plethora of cute coffee shops, vintage clothing/book/record stores and hip restaurants. Once a cheap haven for those wanting to live close to the city and only one stop out of Manhattan, Williamsburg is slowly becoming pricey as ‘Yuppy wannabe kids’ spend their parents money to build modern condos and ruin the original spirit of the area. Deals can be found off Bedford Ave, the further you get from the train – Greenpoint is now emerging as the new area to live if you can’t afford the central buzz.

Williamsburg’s ugly sister, Bushwick is a cheaper option again. Located off the L train and JMZ lines, this once industrial area, is now home to thousands of young artists. At first glance, Bushwick is the scariest place on Earth, but every cultural group co-existing here is too busy trying to survive the city that they don’t want to hurt you. Having said that, the further in you go, the less this principle applies and for those young solo ladies, I wouldn’t recommend this as your first port of call. Try and live off the L train if possible and don’t live further than the L Jefferson train stop.


East Village:
Hey big spenders. If you expect to find something liveable in the East Village – lets hope you befriend some old dude with a rent control apartment or happen to get really lucky. An average studio here is around $2000 (including the smallest kitchen alive, a toilet and a window if you are lucky.) Studios tend to be small and a single room. For a one bedroom, look to spend at least $2500+ and considering NY is currently in a rental drought, with less than 1% of all apartments available for rent, these are hard pressed to find. The area is a major selling point however, within walking distance to Soho, Union Square and the Lower East Side and so much do it will make you sick.

Lower East Side:
Same principle as the East Village, growing in price for tiny spaces. Has the novelty factor associated with the name and the area is overflowing with restaurants and boutiques. The only issue with being in a place surrounded by so much activity, is that you tend to spend more in the places around you as you give into temptation. This must be considered in the price you pay for your apartment.

This is a weird area? Stuck in around the garment/fashion district, I don’t get a great “comfy” vibe from the area. As the old ‘hip and happening” home to the kids in the 90’s – many 50 somethings and mature gay men, call this area home. Kind of pricey in relation to the perks of the area, and as  a young person moving to this city, this ain’t the place to meet new people.

Upper East/West Side:
There is a growing trend in New York, for young people to give a one up to the lower end of the island and migrate north. I don’t get it personally, but I hear it’s not all that bad. You can definitely get more space/quality apartments for your buck – it just comes down to a matter of willingness to trek 25 minutes on the train to get anywhere. The areas are definitely safe, but it still retains that ‘stuffy’ feel from all the 60+ residents. A good place for a couple or someone who isn’t looking to be particularly social.


West Village/Tribeca/Soho:
Don’t even think about it.


Beware of Craigslist scams and if you want to find a decent apartment in Manhattan and have some extra money to blow – hire a broker and save yourself the trouble. It will set you back a month or two rent for the service, but it can save you a lot of stress.

Good luck, and may your future in New York be as crowded and over-priced as the rest of us. 🙂


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