54° Good Afternoon
54° Good Afternoon
NewsNew York

5 Manhattan nabes you can actually afford

Affordable neighborhoods

Affordable neighborhoods Photo Credit: Nicholas Grant

Many New Yorkers looking for a real-estate deal may reflexively scratch Manhattan off their list, writing it off as a borough where only beneficiaries of hedge funds and trust funds can afford to put down stakes.

Well, think again. Maybe you can take Manhattan.

“There’s this initial sticker shock with Manhattan,” said Gary Malin, president of realty firm Citi Habitats. “But the Park Avenue and Madison Avenue price points are not the same as other places [in the borough]. Sometimes there’s perception, and then there’s reality.”

Though the limelight is often on luxury lofts with panoramic views of the skyline, many Manhattan neighborhoods pack serious bang for your buck. You just have to scout them out.

“You have to sometimes have a pioneering attitude,” Malin said. “Just because you always hear about a certain neighborhood doesn’t mean there aren’t other good neighborhoods.”

So, aspirants to a 212 phone number, here’s where you should be looking, thanks to a little help from Citi Habitats brokers:

East Village

Much of the neighborhood, especially Alphabet City, is relatively far from the subway grid, dragging down apartment prices, said broker Ryan Edgette.

“The convenience factor ends up translating to less expensive,” Edgette said. “It also hasn’t been as gentrified as other neighborhoods. There’s still an old New York charm to it.”

Broker’s tips:

-- Price for one bedrooms on First Avenue

$2,500-$3,500 (or less)
-- Going rate for a decent one bedroom rental

The upside:

• Get a uniquely local vibe. “There’s not a Starbucks on every corner,” Edgette said.

• There’s a sense of community. “There’s a home feeling,” Edgette said. “Everyone’s really proud to be here.”

• The bounty of Tompkins Square Park. “There aren’t a lot of parks downtown with big open spaces and free concerts,” Edgette said.

The downside:

• Wear earplugs at night. The East Village is filled with bars that are open late every night.

• Hope you’re not claustrophobic. You’re not paying for space in this neighborhood

Meet Gregory

Gregory Langton wanted a jolt of entertainment and a home that was in the thick of things after living on a sleepy street on the Upper East Side.

He moved to an apartment on Sixth Street in April, seeking a younger crowd and a livelier atmosphere.

“There’s a lot to do every night of the week,” Langton, 28, said of the East Village. “I wanted to be downtown, where a lot more is going on.”


Chinatown is centrally located, “but the prices are lower than in SoHo, the Financial District and the Lower East Side,” said broker Joe Lui.

Broker’s tips:

-- average rent for a studio

-- average rent for one bedroom

-- average rent for two bedroom

The upside:

• You’ll never go hungry again. “There are lots of grocery stores for people who cook every day,” Lui said. And if you’d rather dine out, you could eat at a different restaurant every night.

• Need a little retail therapy? Clothing stores and other shops are all over the place — and it doesn’t have to break the bank.

The downside:

• Don’t bring a car. It could take up to an hour to find a parking space, Lui said.

Congestion, congestion, congestion. “It’s too busy, especially on the weekends,” he said. There’s a lot of foot and car traffic, so the noise may prove irritating.

Hold your nose. The fish shops and other grocers can produce a rather pungent odor that’s difficult to escape.
Meet Erin

“There are a million restaurants,” said Erin Cramer, 24, who moved to a studio on Bayard Street in Chinatown a year ago. Her favorite Chinese restaurant is just a couple blocks away. “They have the most amazing steamed buns,” she said.

With shops, restaurants and bars on every corner, Cramer came to the neighborhood because “it’s just so accessible to everything. It’s very crowded, but I don’t mind that,” she said.

Morningside Heights 

Tucked between the Upper West Side and Harlem, this neighborhood is a particularly good deal for tenants in the market to buy, said broker Lee-Ann Pinder.

Broker’s tips:

Under $500,000
-- price of two bedroom apartments in Morningside Gardens complex

Under $1,800
-- Low end for a decent one bedroom

The upside:

• Business is booming. With new eateries clamoring for space on Amsterdam Avenue, “it’s starting to be called ‘restaurant row,’” Pinder said. “And one of the most recognizable restaurants in America calls the neighborhood home: Tom’s Restaurant, whose exterior was featured in “Seinfeld.”

• Living there is a walk in the park. The neighborhood is wedged between Morningside Park and Riverside Park, and not far from Central Park.

• It’s a “college town.” Morningside Heights is home to Columbia University, the Manhattan School of Music and a host of other well-known institutions.

The downside:

• Keep it down. There are a lot of businesses with outdoor seating as well, so “if you’re on a lower floor on a busy avenue, it might be loud,” Pinder said.

• Call it an early night. Nightlife isn’t exactly bustling in the area.


This gem on the Upper East Side is often overlooked because it’s inconvenient to transportation.

But “there’s definitely those tree-lined streets that give you a sense of privacy,” said broker Morgan Turkewitz. 

Broker’s tips:

Under $1,800
-- What a “ton” of one bedrooms go for

-- going prices for two-bedrooms


The deals may have an expiration date. The first phase of the Second Avenue Subway line — which will bring service to the heart of Yorkville — is expected to be completed by 2016. The new, more convenient access to transportation is sure to inflate housing prices, Turkewitz said.

The upside:

• Peace and quiet. Without subway noise, “it’s quieter than other neighborhoods,” Turkewitz said.

• It doesn’t suck to have a car. If you’re a driver, there are plenty of places to park.

• Businesses are flocking to the area, with a Shake Shack recently opening on East 86th Street, joining a Fairway grocery.

The downside:

• Disruption from the construction of the Second Avenue Subway line has given residents fits.

• Wear comfortable shoes. “You have an average 15-minute walk to transportation,” Turkewitz said. “In Manhattan, you always have to give something up.”

Meet Nick

When he lived in the Financial District, Nick Rio felt he was “missing out on the New York City experience.” The streets were empty after work hours, and he was getting bored with no hotspots around.

But all that changed when he and his girlfriend snapped up a 1-bedroom rental at 84th Street and Second Avenue in June.
“You have the restaurants and the bars on Second Avenue — you just have things to do,” said Rio, 24. “And this place is really affordable.”

So far, the lack of transportation in the neighborhood hasn’t bothered him too much.
“Granted, I haven’t gone through a winter here, so maybe I’m speaking a little too soon,” Rio said.

Washington Heights

In what he calls “the Brooklyn of Manhattan,” broker Sandy Edry recently sold a 1,400-square-foot apartment for $575,000 in the neighborhood.

“It would have been at least double that on the Upper West Side,” Edry said. “It’s really just one of the last undiscovered parts of the city that’s still affordable.”

Broker’s tips:

-- average price for a one bedroom

-- going rate for two bedrooms

The upside:

• Want to commune with nature? This is one of the last places to do it in the city of concrete, with areas like Inwood Hill Park — Manhattan’s last natural forest.

• You might actually get to know your neighbors. “You get the more residential feel of suburbia while still getting an urban atmosphere,” Edry said.

• It’s family-friendly with a top-notch school district, Edry said. “It’s becoming more and more stroller central.”

The downside:

• Grab some reading material. Only the No. 1 and A trains service the area, so if you commute to downtown often, you’re in for a long ride.

• Face it: It’s no SoHo. “You don’t get the same commercial amenities as downtown,” Edry said

• So you’re dying to live in a place with that “Manhattan feel,” but you’re on a budget. Tough cookies. “This is the closest you’re going to feel to it,” Edry said.

Meet Romy

“I never thought there was a world outside of the Village,” said actress Romy Nordlinger.

That was until she and her husband decided they wanted to buy a place. “It’s too expensive to buy there,” she said.

Nordlinger, 35, never thought that she would end up living in a completely different world — in Washington Heights, where she bought a one-bedroom apartment on Riverside Drive near 158th Street three years ago with her husband.

“I’ve been looking to live by trees forever,” she said of the neighborhood’s well-known vast parkland.

She does wish, however, that there were more venues for social gatherings.

“[In the Village], it would be one big party in front of my door,” she said. “We don’t really have many places where people hang out [in Washington Heights]. … It’s the difference of just walking out your door versus walking a few blocks.”


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

More news