6 Min to Read

The Best Neighborhoods to Rent in Manhattan 2019

Rachel McCray

Rachel McCray

manhattan-earth.jpg

Apartment searching in New York City can be a headache and a half. Just when you think you know what you want, your priorities change. It is difficult at times to keep your cool in the competitive NYC real estate market.

There is a lot to consider. Time is not something you will have a lot of. However, finding the right apartment may not be as complicated as you thought, if you keep some of these tips in mind.

Before You Start

Do you know what to expect from the application process? One of the most valuable ways to take a significant amount of stress off of your search is to be prepared.

Although not every application process will be the same, the general information required from applicants remains similar.

In order to qualify for most apartments in Manhattan, applicant(s) need to earn at least 40 times the monthly rent on a yearly basis.

Your credit score also plays a big part into whether or not you will and your ideal apartment.

You may be wondering, what credit score do you need to rent an apartment in Manhattan? The applicant’s credit score must be in “good” standing or close to it. If you’re unsure, be sure to always check your report before you begin. Keep in mind, the average credit score range that many landlords abide by in New York is around 680-690.

If you are having issues generating enough income to rent, here are some great tips to consider, especially if you haven't secured a job yet.

Tip: Try PropertyNest's Rent Affordability Calculator to see what you need to earn to afford rent.

Deposit

Most agencies require a security deposit at the time of application to show that you are seriously interested in the apartment. This is a standard ‘good faith’ procedure.

The security deposit amount generally ranges anywhere from a few hundred to a full month of rent.

Read more: What is a security deposit?

Be sure to read and check the money deposit contract for any refund policy. You also want to be sure to make the payment out to the agency’s LLC or official company name.

Tip: Never make out a payment directly in an agent or broker’s name. This usually means it is the agent’s illegal side deal or a rental scam.

Application and Credit Check

Once your application is complete, a credit check will be conducted and considered by the landlord.

The fee for this can range from $15-$175.

You can request a copy of the credit report by asking your agent.

Preparing Income Documentation

Income requirements and documentation will depend on the brokerage/management company. However, generally speaking, you will need these five important things:

  1. A government issued photo ID (state ID, Driver’s License, or Passport)
  2. Recent bank statements
  3. Recent pay stubs
  4. Recent tax returns
  5. Some kind of employment verification

For anyone receiving direct deposit, proof of pay can be obtained in a couple of easy ways including:

a.) highlighting the deposit in bank account OR

b.) asking payroll to print some statements for you.

If you did not file taxes yet, put together tax documentation like W-2’s or 1099’s that show your full annual income.

If you're concerned that you your limited funds won't cover all necessary fees, check out our latest article on how to get an apartment in NYC with low income.

Employment verification is as simple as requesting that your employer write a simple letter containing your position, salary and start date.

Providing a recent letter/email stating a recent promotion may also provide confirmation.

Be sure to store all of your documentation in an easily accessible folder on your desktop.

It also might be a good idea to email the folder to yourself so they are ready to be printed at any location.

Prioritize

This is where you have to think about what is most important for you to be comfortable in your living situation.

This goes deeper than simply the neighborhood or your budget.

It’s about figuring out what are the most important aspects of your daily routine.

This will also give you a chance to think about what features would be enjoyable but are not essential.

Some questions you may want to ask yourself before considering are:

  • Are there school zones you’d like to live in?
  • Do you spend a lot of time at local bars and restaurants?
  • Are you primarily looking for a short commute?
  • Do you work from home?
  • Do you like to spend a lot of times in an outdoor space?
  • Are you on a tight budget?

These may seem like insignificant considerations but they will be crucial to what kind of place ends up being right for you.

Affordable RentsThe average price for a 1-bedroom is roughly $3,495. 2-bedrooms at $5,146. It will be a challenge to find anything below these prices in most of Manhattan. Expect to find more deals in uptown neighborhoods like Inwood and Harlem.
ParksIs there a park in the neighborhood? Is it a park where you can carry out recreational activities or exercise? Does the park have a playground for your child or a dog park for your pup?
RestarauntsAre there proper sit-down restaurants in the area? How about restaurants to order delivery? Do you need a good variety of cuisines to choose from? Is a close grocery store important?
Top Public SchoolsIf you have school-aged children, you probably want to make sure that you are in a good school district or zoned for a good school. If not public, check out the private schools also.
Movie TheatersManhattan has many big and small theaters to enjoy mainstream and indie films. Some of the top ones include: Regal Union Square Stadium 14 (convenient), AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 (IMAX and IMAX 3D), AMC Loews 84th Street 6 (most comfortable) and Regal Battery Park Stadium 11 (thin crowds)
WalkabilityAlmost every Manhattan neighborhood is walkable neighborhood at the right time. Make sure to also explore the neighborhood after dark to make sure that you feel safe at all times. Also consider is your chosen apartment in walking distance to the shops, stores and restaurants you will frequent.
Public Transportation/CommuteMost New Yorkers prioritize commute as a big factor when looking for housing. Although close proximity to public transit and a short commute time is significant to most, these factors may have to be sacrificed depending on your budget and desired apartment size. Remember that not everyone can be a hop, skip and a jump away from the train (a 10-minute walk is the average).
ParkingStreet parking has always been a challenge in Manhattan. For as long as NYC maintains its status as a highly desirable place to live, street parking will continue to be difficult. Luckily, most Manhattan-ites forgo owning a car and rely on strictly on foot transportation. If, however, your budget is not tight and you are a car-owner, you might want to consider snatching a luxury apartment. These usually offer garages. This way you know you will always have a spot when you come home after a long day.
Music VenuesThere is no shortage of musical talent in NYC. No matter what kind of establishment you find yourself in, the entertainment will be above-average. In Manhattan, even your local karaoke bar is a treat. During the warmer months there are many live outdoor concerts in places like Tompkins Square Park and Central Park. Other large venues include Bowery Ballroom, Beacon Theatre, Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden. For now, NYC remains hard to beat when it comes to live music.
Access to Farmer’s MarketsFresh foods are quite popular in NYC and could be an added bonus to any neighborhood. Although fruit stands can be found throughout the city, greenmarkets are becoming increasingly popular in each neighborhood. Your desired neighborhood will most likely have some sort of weekly fresh fruit and vegetable market in walking distance. A map of current greenmarkets can be found at www.grownyc.org.
Coffee shopsMove over Starbucks. Thanks to city-wide gentrification, many small coffee shops are popping up in most neighborhoods. Local coffee shops are a great place for residents to work, meet and create a community ambiance. After all, coffee options are a good thing.
CrimeManhattan is home to over 8 million people so crime is going to occur more frequently. Violent crimes have decreased at a relatively significant rate, but all urban areas are going to have their shortcomings. Be sure to take note of how safe you feel walking the neighborhood during the day and at night. This could be a determining factor, depending on how important it is for you to feel a sense of security.
New York PizzaDon’t forget about the days you will be glad to know that you can order quality New York pizza. There are many late-night classic New York pizzerias all around the city. If it’s important to you, be sure to check if your neighborhood joint has gluten-free or real brick-oven options.

Budget Appropriately

There is a general formula that most landlords use to judge your ability to pay rent.

Keep in mind that individual requirements will vary from landlord to landlord.

However, your annual income should equal 40 times the rent. I.e.; If monthly rent is $2,000 then your annual household income should be at least $80,000.

It is extremely important to keep your budget as your number one priority.

It’s All About Personality

Are you someone who needs a historic pre-war charm to your apartment or would you rather choose a modern, luxury or traditional apartment?

Does it matter if you’re on the first floor or the tenth floor?

Do you prefer to have an elevator or is a walk-up more your style?

When your budget is limited, you can’t be too picky in Manhattan so decide what personality factors are most important to you.

Manhattan Neighborhoods

Manhattan has something to offer for every single individual no matter your race, religion or background.

It is quintessentially the melting pot city of America.

Depending on your taste, each neighborhood specializes in something to offer you.

Best for Families:Best for Millennials:Best for Nightlife:Waterfront Views:Parks/Nature:Transportation Hub:
Upper East SideLower East SideHell’s KitchenTribecaUpper West SideMidtown
Upper West SideMurray HillMidtownBattery Park CityUpper East SideFinancial District
Battery Park CityChelseaChelseaHell's KitchenGramercy ParkSoho
Gramercy ParkKip's BayLower East SideChelseaGreenwich VillageChelsea
TribecaGreenwich VillageEast VillageUpper West SideChelseaGreenwich Village

Uptown

Located away from the hustle and bustle of midtown, uptown offers residents a refreshing arts culture with many museums and art galleries, as well as the city’s most famous playground - Central Park.

Uptown Manhattan is the area above 59th Street and below 96th Street. The Upper West Side and Upper East Side are two of the most notable neighborhoods in Uptown.

Some other neighborhoods include: Harlem, Washington Heights, Lenox Hill and Yorkville, which are prized for their historic beauty as well as affordable prices.

As a matter of fact, although prices have risen in recent times, these neighborhoods are among the most affordable in the borough.

The Upper East Side includes some of the world’s most expensive properties nestled between high-end boutiques and pre-war historic gems.

The area can be affordable but continues to be one of the more expensive neighborhoods in Manhattan.

The Upper West Side is quaint and more affordable than it’s eastern counterpart (UES).

Though much of it is residential, it also contains many gems including the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, The American Museum of Natural History, and The Beacon Theatre.

This peaceful neighborhood is full of lush gardens (and Central Park), historic churches and activities involving the arts.

Midtown

Midtown Manhattan is the area between 34th Street and 59th Street.

If you’re looking to be in the heart of the lively city, then this is your place.

Some of the neighborhoods in Midtown include: Union Square, Meatpacking District, Chelsea and Gramercy Park.

Neighborhoods along the East River, like Kip’s Bay and Stuy Town, may surprise you with affordable places.

If you plan to have roommates then your options increase.

Downtown

Downtown Manhattan, sometimes referred to as Lower Manhattan, includes any neighborhood below 14th Street.

Some of the neighborhoods include: West Village, Soho, Tribeca, and the Financial District.

Business, culture and government define this southernmost area of Manhattan.

Some of the better-known locations include: Greenwich Village, Canal Street, Wall Street, One World Trade Center, 9/11 Memorial & Museum and the American International Building.

Although Downtown NYC has a picturesque charm about it, the cost of living is pricier and spaces are generally smaller.

Most walk-ups are found in the Village, the Lower East Side and Chinatown - and these usually rent for a little less than those on lower floors.

Deciding on the Best Apartment for You

Be sure to take the time to reflect on what is important to you before choosing a neighborhood in Manhattan to live in.

No matter what neighborhood you choose, there will be important things to consider.

To make things easier, be sure to prioritize your check list down to the top three that fit the description of what you are looking for.

If your list of potential apartments exceeds five, then you may need to reevaluate your priorities.

Remember, the apartment that wins you over may not have every item on your checklist so don’t discount your inner feelings and intuition on the search.