Survey: More than 20% of New Yorkers Crave Private Outdoor Space, Followed by Cheaper Rent or Mortgage

What do New Yorkers want to change the most about their apartments after locking down for months? Find out what's most important, and what might influence how agents and landlords market listings?

Lockdown for New Yorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic has not been easy. Many have found escape through daily jogs, walks, or weekend drives.

Still many have spent the time completely cooped up in their apartments, only leaving for occasional supply runs.

Now that restrictions have slowly eased and New York City has gone at least into the fourth phase of reopening, many are looking at the opportunity to move from their current homes, whether that means within the city or to the countryside or suburbs.

PropertyNest conducted a survey to look at which features might appeal to New Yorkers the most after spending a significant amount of time in their apartments.

Survey Highlights

PropertyNest asked:

"If you live in NYC, which of the following would you want to change the most about your apartment after sheltering in place?"

  • 20.8% of respondents most desired private outdoor space. 18.7 % didn't want to change anything and 17.7% wanted cheaper rent or mortgage following as second and third place, respectively.
  • 81.3% of respondents selected a feature that they would like to alter from their apartments compared to 18.7% who would change nothing.
  • Women overwhelmingly desired private outdoor space over men. Women made up 61.6% of respondents who chose private outdoor space over men who made up only 38.4%. Private outdoor space ranked only third over all choices among men, while it ranked first among all age groups among female respondents.
  • More men were totally satisfied with their apartments. "I would change nothing" was the number one option among male respondents of most age groups.
  • Male respondents ages 18-24 prioritized very different things from other age groups. While 26.1% would change nothing, consistent with most male age groups, the second and third most popular responses were more natural light and desiring a different location. Women ages 18-24 also highly prioritized more natural light.
  • Men and women equally wanted cheaper rent or mortgage payments. It was the most popular choice for respondents ages 35-44.
  • Having a larger apartment was also far more important to female respondents than male. Women made up 60.9% of respondents who wanted a bigger apartment or more rooms.
Survey: What New Yorkers Want From Their Apartment

The survey aims to study possible real estate behavior and apartment trends that may ensue following the recent lockdown.

PropertyNest current market analysis shows a clear decline in rental prices across the city, particularly in Manhattan from February of 2020.

This is not a surprise considering how many respondents prioritized cheaper rent or mortgage as their selected feature.

An earlier study conducted in June by PropertyNest showed a significant increase in the number of people not able to make their rent during the NY Pause, compared to earlier studies done in April and May.

Income loss and the economic downturn are likely a contributing factor to this trend.

Properties with Outdoor Space Could Be the Big Next Trend

Private outdoor space being the top selection may also not come as a surprise considering that very few apartments in New York offer outdoor space let alone private outdoor space.

That fact compounded with being stuck indoors for most of the day or for weeks would only exacerbate the desire to step outdoors, but safely and without wearing a mask or any protective gear.

This may have already started a trend with apartment hunters looking for a place that has either a private yard, deck, or balcony. With this as the top choice feature, apartments that provide private outdoor space may not only in high demand but may fetch higher prices than previously.

Nest seekers who want private outdoor space may also start looking farther out in the outer boroughs where outdoor space is not only more prevalent but rents are cheaper.

Living near train stations has become less of a priority as mass commuting is down, and most people are working from home or using ride-hailing services or driving in order to practice social distancing, opening up more options for residents who want a private yard.

This might be a correlation with the number of people who wanted to move out of the city according to an earlier survey conducted by PropertyNest, which showed almost 11% of respondents wanted to move out of the city.

As coronavirus cases increase in most of the country and as New York eases its restrictions, cases may start rising again in the city and prompt a return to lockdown making these apartment wishlist items still very relevant.

Survey Methodology

PropertyNest conducted an online survey among New York residents on what they would want to change the most about their apartment after sheltering in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. 1,001 respondents ages 18 and older participated with a margin of error of +/- 2.1%.

Ruth Shin
About the author

Ruth Shin is the Founder and CEO of PropertyNest. She shares in-depth insights on real estate, personal finance, and home improvement drawing from her experience as a licensed real estate agent, editing personal finance publications, and managing many home renovation projects. Ruth graduated with a BA from Hunter College in Writing, History, and Special Honors.