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Minimum Income to Rent a 1-Bedroom Apartment in New York City Neighborhoods

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Rent in New York City is famously expensive. We’ve all heard that those rent-controlled apartments on “Friends” and “Sex and the City” were not remotely realistic in terms of what the average 20- or 30-something could reasonably afford. According to Bustle, Monica’s two-bedroom apartment would easily rent for $5,000 – no small feat on a chef’s salary.

In order to get a better idea of what it truly costs to live in various areas of the city, it’s helpful to look at the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment by neighborhood. And it’s a rude awakening, to be sure.

Expenses to Consider

The 30% Rule

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it is recommended that Americans not spend more than 30% of their salary on housing costs. In expensive housing markets like New York City, that’s a tall order. And actually, many New York City landlords require potential renters to demonstrate evidence of annual income totaling 50 times their monthly rent in order to qualify. That means you would be spending less than 25% of your gross income on housing – in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world.

There is debate over whether the 30% rule applies to gross income (before taxes and deductions) or net income (take-home pay, after taxes and deductions). Using your net income is a good idea if you can get away with it, since that’s a more realistic picture of the amount of cash you actually have on-hand. However, it’s simply not realistic in many real estate markets for people with limited incomes.

For that reason, we’re looking at rental prices related to gross income. Since the following factors are often deducted from your gross income, be sure to take them into account when considering your actual cash available for rent:

  • Health Insurance Premiums. According to the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, the average individual in New York pays $428 per month for health insurance premiums.
  • FICA. FICA is the Federal Insurance Contributions Act and it’s a mandatory payroll deduction that helps cover Social Security and Medicare. The FICA rate is 7.65% of income.
  • Taxes. Your income tax bracket varies widely depending on your income and filing status. It could be as little as 10% or as much as 39.6%. Other deductions – such as childcare expenses and charitable contributions – can reduce your effective tax rate.
  • Retirement Contributions. IRAs, 401ks, and other retirement accounts are phenomenal investments, but they can take a bite out of your take-home pay and limit your rental budget.
  • Other Deductions. You may have life insurance, long-term disability, a philanthropic contribution, or other deductions taken out of your paycheck.

New York City SkylineAdditional Housing Expenses

The rental price is just the beginning. Many rental prices in New York include utilities, which is why utilities haven’t been taken into account in this list. However, that’s not always the case. Always ask a potential landlord about the actual cost of utilities and what specifically you’re responsible for.

According to Miron Properties, a New York City real estate firm, this commonly includes the following:

  • Heating. If not included in the rent price, it could run approximately $50 per month.
  • Electric. Averages $75 per month, but varies significantly depending on the square footage of your apartment and your conservation practices, such as how diligent you are about turning off lights and electronics when not in use.
  • Internet and Cable. Time Warner Cable is by far the most prevalent provider of Internet and cable in New York City. Bills average $45 per month for Internet access with speeds of up to 15 Mbps, and $115 per month for basic cable plus DVR services. You pay more for higher Internet speeds and premium cable packages.

In some buildings, you may also be responsible for these items:

  • Trash. Paying separately for trash is much more common in a townhome than in an apartment, but shouldn’t cost more than $25 per month.
  • Water and Sewer. These are often combined and should not cost more than $50 per month.
  • Parking Fees. Parking is at a premium in New York City, and prices vary wildly depending on location. Even the availability of paid parking is a luxury in many New York City apartments (that’s why the subway is so popular). It’s not uncommon to pay $300 or more per month for a parking spot. According to The New York Times, a parking spot at a newly built New York City condo famously held a price tag of $1 million – just for the parking spot.
  • Laundry. Your building might have a coin-operated washer and dryer, which could charge anywhere from $0.25 to $5.00 per load. Many New York City apartment dwellers opt to send out their laundry to a wash-and-fold service for a fee per-bag or per-pound. Expect to pay at least $1 per pound.
  • Fitness CenterGyms and fitness centers average $134.50 per month in New York City. If your building has a fitness center and you aren’t charged per visit ($5 to $20 for a drop-in) or per month, you can bet that you’re paying for it anyway via a higher monthly rental payment.

You’re likely to want renters insurance as well, especially if you own any valuable personal property that wouldn’t be easy to replace with cash on-hand. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, you should be able to secure rental insurance for between $15 and $30 per month, unless you need to cover items of exceptionally high value, such as expensive jewelry or unusually high-end electronic equipment.

Average One-Bedroom Cost by Neighborhood

If you have a limited budget, you can kiss New York City’s hot spots goodbye. You won’t be gazing out over Central Park, and you won’t be walking to Times Square – unless you have really good walking shoes and really good calf muscles.

New York City is divided into five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. Most of the examples below represent individual neighborhoods within the boroughs, particularly within Manhattan and Brooklyn – that’s primarily because of the dramatic price ranges within these two boroughs. In the case of Staten Island and The Bronx, average one-bedroom rental for the borough as a whole is used.

Rental information below was compiled primarily from Zumper.com, as well as MNS.com and StreetEasy.com.

Tribeca (Manhattan)

Tribeca Tavern ManhattanTribeca, short for “Triangle Below Canal Street,” is located in the south-central portion of Manhattan. Residential development in Tribeca dates back to the late 18th century, though lately it’s known for ultra-hip condos and high rises which meet the increased demand for high-end housing. Tribeca is known for hosting the annual Tribeca Film Festival and attracts ample tourism year-round, along with a slew of celebrity residents.

  • Average Monthly Rental Cost for a One-Bedroom in Tribeca: $4,150
  • Annual Gross Income Required to Meet the 30% Rule: $166,000

Chelsea (Manhattan)

Chelsea High Rises ManhattanLocated in the western portion of Manhattan, Chelsea is primarily a residential district that is known for historically housing a relatively large LGBTQ population and for having a robust arts scene. In the mid-18th century, Chelsea was the property of a British military official named Thomas Clarke, who named his estate after the neighborhood of Kensington and Chelsea in London.

  • Average Monthly Rental Cost for a One-Bedroom in Chelsea: $3,850
  • Annual Gross Income Required to Meet the 30% Rule: $154,000

Upper West Side (Manhattan)

Upper West Side TowhousesNestled between Central Park and the Hudson River, the Upper West Side has long been associated with New York City affluence (along with its sister neighborhood on the east side of Central Park, the Upper East Side). While other neighborhoods ebb and wane in fashion, the Upper East Side and Upper West Side are consistently “en vogue,” and have the price tags to prove it. While primarily residential, the Upper West Side boasts high-end restaurants and shopping along Central Park.

  • Average Monthly Rental Cost for a One-Bedroom in the Upper West Side: $3,280
  • Annual Gross Income Required to Meet the 30% Rule: $131,200

Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Williamsburg Village BrooklynLocated in the borough of Brooklyn, Williamsburg was incorporated as the “Village of Williamsburgh” in 1827 and became part of New York City when Brooklyn was made one of the boroughs in 1898. In recent years, Williamsburg has emerged as a hub of the hipster community, with a substantial independent music scene and arts community.

  • Average Monthly Rental Cost for a One-Bedroom in Williamsburg: $3,100
  • Annual Gross Income Required to Meet the 30% Rule: $124,000

East Village (Manhattan)

Ornate East Village ApartmentsLocated on the eastern edge of south-central Manhattan, the East Village used to be grouped in with the larger “Lower East Side” area. However, since the 1960s, the East Village has developed a strong identity independent of its surrounding areas, warranting its own neighborhood designation.

The East Village has historically been the center of countercultural movements, such as punk rock. It used to attract lots of young, diverse residents due to affordable rent and a lively entertainment scene. However, like many neighborhoods in Manhattan, increasing gentrification has driven up rental prices.

  • Average Monthly Rental Cost for a One-Bedroom in the East Village: $2,840
  • Annual Gross Income Required to Meet the 30% Rule: $113,600

Park Slope (Brooklyn)

Park Slope BrooklynLocated in the western portion of Brooklyn, Park Slope has thrived in the wake of an exodus of families from Manhattan in search of more space, lower rental prices, and more family-friendly amenities. In 2010, Park Slope topped “New York Magazine’s” list of New York’s “Most Desirable Neighborhoods.” It has highly rated schools along with green spaces and a robust selection of restaurants and shopping.

  • Average Monthly Rental Cost for a One-Bedroom in Park Slope: $2,450
  • Annual Gross Income Required to Meet the 30% Rule: $98,000

Astoria (Queens)

Triboro Bridge AstoriaLocated along the East River in Queens, Astoria was named in the late 1830s for John Jacob Astor, who was the wealthiest man in the world at the time. The name was given in hopes of luring an investment from Astor, though he ended up only investing $500 in the area. Historically, Astoria was significant in American movie-making, and is enjoying some renewal as investors and real estate developers buy up abandoned industrial buildings.

  • Average Monthly Rental Cost for a One-Bedroom in Astoria: $2,151
  • Annual Gross Income Required to Meet the 30% Rule: $86,040

East Harlem (Manhattan)

East Harlem FlowersLocated north of the Upper East Side in Manhattan, East Harlem is typically not considered to be part of the Harlem community. It used to be known colloquially as “Spanish Harlem” and is currently home to a predominantly Latino population.

East Harlem struggles with a number of social issues and has a significant amount of public housing. It has long been known as a “food desert” with a lack of access to fresh produce, though in recent years, there has been a push to invest in East Harlem and make fresh, healthy food accessible and affordable.

  • Average Monthly Rental Cost for a One-Bedroom in East Harlem: $1,850
  • Annual Gross Income Required to Meet the 30% Rule: $74,000

The Bronx

Bronx Yankee StadiumThe Bronx is the northernmost borough of New York City. It is home to the Bronx Zoo, the New York Botanical Garden, and the New York Yankees baseball team. Named for Jonas Bronck, who was responsible for the area’s first settlement in 1639, the Bronx has a storied history that continues today – it has been associated with the development of the hip-hop music genre. Unfortunately, income inequality is a significant issue in the Bronx.

  • Average Monthly Rental Cost for a One-Bedroom in the Bronx: $1,450
  • Annual Gross Income Required to Meet the 30% Rule: $58,400

Staten Island

Staten Island FerryStaten Island is located in the southernmost portion of New York City. According to a report from city comptroller Scott Stringer, covered by Staten Island Live, Staten Island boasts the most affordable rental prices of any of New York City’s five boroughs. Evidence of Native American civilizations on the island has dated back to 14,000 years ago, with the first European settlements recorded in 1520.

Staten Island is not part of the New York City subway system. Instead, it is famously accessed via the Staten Island Ferry.

  • Average Monthly Rental Cost for a One-Bedroom in Staten Island: $1,125
  • Annual Gross Income Required to Meet the 30% Rule: $45,000

Final Word

If this list gives you sticker shock, you’re not alone. There’s a reason New York City is known simultaneously as the place for dreamers and the place for crushed dreams. According to the U.S. Census, the median household income in the United States is $53,046 – that means that even if everyone in a typical U.S. home pooled their income together, they could still only afford one of the locations on our list. The median per capita income is much lower, at $28,155.

For most people, affording a one-bedroom apartment on a single salary just isn’t practical. That’s why so many New York City residents have roommates, even in one-bedroom apartments. Or they consider a studio apartment…or a closet in someone else’s apartment.

Have you ever lived in New York City? Did you think it was worth the cost of living?

Ellen Gans
Ellen Hunter Gans is a full-time writer who loves highbrow books, lowbrow TV, late afternoon sunshine, Oxford commas, adding to her "countries visited" list, and the three Cs: cabernet, coffee, and carbohydrates. She's also a fifteen-time marathon finisher and Ironman triathlete. Ellen lives with her awesome husband and adorable son.

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