The complete guide to finding affordable housing in the Big Apple

It’s no secret that New York City, lovingly called the “Big Apple,” is known for its sky-high living costs. However, we at Best Movers NYC believe that the city’s charm, opportunities, and one-of-a-kind life make the hunt worthwhile. Luckily, with the right knowledge and strategies, finding a comfortable, reasonably-priced home here is not an impossible challenge. After all, armed with this comprehensive guide for finding affordable housing in the Big Apple, you’ll be well on your way to settling into your dream home.

Understanding the NYC housing market

The city’s housing market is dynamic and complex, with prices varying significantly based on neighborhood, amenities, and the type of housing. According to Niche, the median monthly gross rent in NYC was $1,579. However, the figure fluctuates widely from borough to borough: from $1,306 in the Bronx to $1,869 in Manhattan. For someone unfamiliar with the city’s real estate market, these numbers may seem confusing. Yet, understanding this market’s intricacies can be a game-changer in your quest for affordable housing.

Picture of a key
Finding affordable housing in the Big Apple requires an understanding of the real estate market.

Discovering NYC’s affordable neighborhoods

Each of New York City’s five boroughs — Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Staten Island — has its unique personality and traits. For example, Manhattan is famous for its skyscrapers and bustling streets, while Brooklyn has a more relaxed, artistic vibe. Meanwhile, Queens is incredibly diverse, with residents from all over the globe. The Bronx is often recommended for its affordability, whereas Staten Island, the least populated borough, offers a suburban feel within the city.

Although prices tend to be higher in certain neighborhoods, each borough contains pockets of affordability. For instance, while the average monthly rent in Manhattan is over $1,800, neighborhoods like Inwood offer significantly lower prices. Here, the median rent hovers around $1,450, proving that affordable living is achievable, even within the priciest city areas.

A high-quality lifestyle doesn’t have to be expensive

Transitioning to an affordable neighborhood might be your key to enjoying a high-quality, low-cost life in New York City. With a little research and the right resources, anyone can find a neighborhood that fits their budget and lifestyle. Armed with this information, the process of finding affordable housing in the Big Apple becomes less stressful and more exciting. It’s the first step in making your dream of city living a reality.

Let’s delve a bit deeper into the specifics of these boroughs to understand their appeal. In Manhattan, Washington Heights is often celebrated for its rich cultural history and beautiful parks, along with its comparatively affordable rent. On the other hand, if you prefer Brooklyn’s artsy vibe but are concerned about affordability, consider neighborhoods like Sunset Park or Bay Ridge. These areas offer a median rent of around $1,650 per Niche, a stark contrast to the much steeper prices in Brooklyn Heights or Park Slope.

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the diversity of Queens without breaking the bank, neighborhoods like Jackson Heights or Elmhurst could be your answer. These areas boast a lower average rent, from $1,650 to $1,800, and a mix of cultures. Similarly, the Bronx, recommended by various entities, including many moving companies Bronx has to offer, provides affordable options in areas like Kingsbridge, with a median rent of approximately $1,409. Staten Island, often overlooked, offers gems like St. George, where ferry access and views of Manhattan’s skyline come with an average rent of just $1,512.

Navigating rental websites and apps

Numerous rental websites and apps have become invaluable tools in streamlining the process of finding affordable housing in the Big Apple. Websites like Zillow, StreetEasy, and, along with rental apps like Trulia and, provide extensive listings throughout the city. These platforms are updated frequently, ensuring a regular influx of new opportunities.

They allow you to filter searches by price, location, and amenities, depending on your preferences. For instance, you can specify the minimum number of bedrooms or bathrooms, whether pets are allowed, or if the apartment has a dishwasher. The filters on these platforms are so detailed you can even search based on the type of property, be it a condo, co-op, or townhouse. It’s this flexibility that helped an estimated 5 million New Yorkers find their homes via online platforms in 2022 alone.

For those looking at Queens, you can narrow your search to areas like Sunnyside or Kew Gardens, both known for their charm and picturesque streets. Notably, Sunnyside boasts an impressive diversity of architectural styles, while Kew Gardens is renowned for its leafy, park-like atmosphere despite being in the heart of Queens.

Once you’ve zeroed in on a potential new home, professional service providers like Kew Gardens movers can help ensure a smooth transition. The importance of reliable moving services cannot be overstated. In fact, one survey reported that 96% of people found moving with professional help significantly reduced their stress levels.

Picture of a person who is using a laptop
Technology can also help you with this.

Even with technology by your side, don’t rush

Despite the convenience of these platforms, it’s crucial not to rush the process. Statistics show that prospective renters view an average of 11 properties online before deciding on the one they want to visit in person. This highlights the importance of a methodical, patient approach when hunting for an apartment.

Verifying any suspicious offers is equally important. In 2022, the Federal Trade Commission reported a 20% increase in rental scams. Therefore, due diligence in confirming the legitimacy of the listing, checking the owner’s credentials, and never transferring money without a signed lease agreement is of the essence. Also, be sure to understand every clause in the fine print before committing to anything. Moving to Sunnyside with the help of our movers in Sunnyside NY, shouldn’t be the least of your worries, but you need to focus on not getting scammed first!

Finally, stay updated about the fluctuations in the market. According to RentHop’s data, NYC’s rental market sees the highest number of listings during the summer months. Still, renters are likely to find better deals in the winter, as landlords are more willing to negotiate to avoid vacancies.

Leverage government programs when finding affordable housing in the Big Apple

Government programs are instrumental in assisting residents in obtaining a reasonably priced home. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) runs the housing lottery, which provides below-market-rate apartments to qualifying individuals. In fact, in 2022, 8,000 households won lotteries, illustrating its significant impact.

Subsequently, there is Section 8, a federal assistance program, which covers a portion of rent for eligible low-income families. New Yorkers also have access to public housing run by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), offering low and moderate-income families secure, affordable homes.

Explore alternative housing options

Traditional renting isn’t the only solution. Nowadays, co-living and roommate arrangements are trending as practical ways to share costs and secure affordable housing. Co-living spaces offer fully furnished shared suites. By sharing common areas like kitchens and living rooms, renters can enjoy lower costs and community living. In 2022, co-living spaces saw a 15% increase in uptake, showing their growing acceptance. This type of alternate housing is available all over the city, Riverdale being no exception. For that reason, reliable movers Riverdale NY boasts can help you relocate to any type of home, including the one you’ll share.

Simultaneously, having a roommate can cut rental costs in half. Websites like Roomi and SpareRoom make it easier to find potential roommates with matching lifestyles and preferences. With this option, not only do you share rent, but utilities and household chores, making life in the city easier.

Picture of people who try finding affordable housing in the Big Apple
Finding a roommate is an easy way to cut monthly expenses

Factors to consider when choosing the right neighborhood

When finding affordable housing in the Big Apple, it’s essential to consider factors beyond rental costs. Proximity to work or school is one. After all, living closer can reduce commuting expenses and time. Therefore, it’s worth considering areas within a reasonable commute to your daily destinations. If life happens to bring you Astoria’s way, know that there are a number of trustworthy Astoria NY moving companies that can transport your livelihood to this neighborhood.

Public transportation access is also vital in NYC, where only 69.63% of households own a car. Notably, neighborhoods like Kensington shine here, with multiple subway lines providing easy access to Manhattan. Next, safety is paramount. NYPD’s online crime map allows you to check crime statistics for specific neighborhoods. However, keep in mind that safer neighborhoods may have higher rents, which may partially be offset by the peace of mind they bring. Lastly, local amenities contribute significantly to your quality of life. Supermarkets, parks, restaurants, and recreational facilities enhance your living experience. It’s a bonus if they’re within walking distance, like in Astoria or Washington Heights.

The art of negotiating rent is crucial for finding affordable housing in the Big Apple

The process of finding affordable housing in the city often involves more than meets the eye. Notably, one underrated aspect is negotiating the rent. Believe it or not, around 30% of renters in NYC successfully negotiate their rent or lease terms, as per a 2022 survey. Should you want to take a page out of their playbook, start by researching the average rent prices in your preferred area. That way, you’ll have a strong foundation to start with. In addition, consider timing your move for winter when landlords are more likely to negotiate due to fewer renters in the market. For instance, if you’re eyeing a move to Harlem, this strategy can be particularly effective. Many movers Harlem NYC has to offer confirm an uptick in winter relocations, owing to more flexible rent discussions.

Navigating NYC’s unique rent-stabilized apartments

New York City has an intriguing housing feature: rent-stabilized apartments. Rent stabilization limits how much landlords can increase rent each year, thereby creating a more affordable living scenario. A Rent Guidelines Board report states that as of 2022, there are around one million such units in the city. However, these apartments can be challenging to find, as they don’t often appear in mainstream listings. Nevertheless, persistence can pay off. Websites like StreetEasy occasionally list them, so keeping an eye out for them can be beneficial.

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Rent-stabilized apartments are a new feature in NYC

Exploring the possibility of homeownership in the City that Never Sleeps

The possibility of homeownership in NYC does exist, especially for those who can afford it. Buying a home can offer long-term financial benefits like:

  • Building equity
  • Potential tax advantages and
  • Possible appreciation

For example, the Furman Center’s 2022 data showed that median home prices in NYC increased by 4% annually over the last decade. However, homeownership also brings challenges: high upfront costs, maintenance responsibilities, and potential fluctuations in property value. The homeownership rate in the city is around 33%, much lower than the national average of approximately 65% in 2022, indicating the high barriers to owning a property in this bustling area.

The role of real estate brokers in your housing search

When searching for affordable housing, you may wonder whether to enlist the help of a real estate broker. You may be leaning towards doing so, especially after hearing that as many as 75% of rental transactions last year involved brokers, according to 2022 StreetEasy data. Yes, they have in-depth knowledge of the city’s housing market, which can save time and prevent costly mistakes. However, their fees, usually around 12-15% of the annual rent, may discourage some renters.

Remember, while these personas can ease the housing search, they’re not a necessity. Numerous no-fee apartments are listed directly by landlords or management companies. This makes the decision of whether to hire them or not a rather personal one.

Picture of a woman finding affordable housing in the Big Apple with the help of a real estate broker
Real estate brokers will be an additional cost, but their help is valuable.

Finding affordable housing in the Big Apple is certainly possible

As you can see, finding affordable housing in the Big Apple will pose challenges. But for those who are persistent and willing to dedicate time to it, it is a possibility within reach. Keep in mind that buying is a much bigger dedication than renting, but being a tenant also comes with a set of its own challenges. Eviction is the nightmare fuel for many renters, especially nowadays, with the unstable real estate market. Nevertheless, if you happen to be a tenant who obliges to all their responsibilities, there should be no problems.



Tilford, A. (2023b, May 8). Car Ownership Statistics 2023. Forbes Advisor.

Living in New York City. (n.d.-b). Niche.

Living in The Bronx. (n.d.). Niche.

Living in Manhattan. (n.d.-b). Niche.

Living in Washington Heights. (n.d.). Niche.

Living in Bay Ridge. (n.d.-b). Niche.

Living in Elmhurst. (n.d.). Niche.

Living in Kingsbridge. (n.d.). Niche.

Living in St. George. (n.d.). Niche.

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