NYC’s Rent Nightmare


A Special Report

By Michael Derek Roberts

Today, it’s nearly impossible to rent an apartment in New York City. A study by StreetEasy ( found that on the average a majority of landlords require potential tenants to earn as much as 40 times the monthly rent before they consider renting an apartment to them. The study concluded that today, in 2018, most New Yorkers now struggle to make rent payments.  Moreover, when the 40-times-the-rent rule (not law) was taken into account, the vast majority of potential renters couldn’t afford the median asking rent of an apartment in their neighborhood on their borough’s median household income, the study noted.

Indeed, the informal landlord-tenant renting rule basically means that those looking for many apartments in the city without a guarantor must locate a place where the rent’s no more than 30 percent of their income. As the income-rent gap continues to widen, more New Yorkers find themselves putting a greater share of their weekly/monthly earnings towards rent. That has become an albatross around the necks of particularly working families in New York City.

It therefore comes as no surprise that Manhattan is the most expensive. That’s because as a destination for the rich and wealthy, many who want to live in Manhattan can afford it. Of course, most New Yorkers don’t have the money to live in the borough’s most exclusive neighborhoods. In Manhattan’s most expensive neighborhood, Central Park South, the median asking rent is a whopping $6,850. With a recommended income of $274,000, Central Park South residents must make 253.3 percent more than the typical Manhattan household ($77,559) to afford to live there, the study concluded. (The median income for all of New York City is $58,856.)

Neighborhoods vary less drastically when it comes to affordability in Brooklyn and Queens. However, the disparity between their asking rents and the typical income is stark, noted the study. That’s because while asking rents may be lower there, the recommended income for apartments still towers over the median household income. For example, the median income for Brooklynites is $55,150, but the recommended income for the borough’s most “affordable” neighborhood, Bensonhurst, is $68,000.

The fact is that the greatest city in the world is also the most expensive city in the world. New York City comes in at second place on the list of U.S. cities with the highest average rent. The average monthly rent for a single person in NYC is $1,994, and the only city that topped that is San Francisco at $2,077.  So in order to afford your own apartment in NYC, the annual income for a single person would have to be above $82,000.

Compounding this very dire situation is that fact that nearly half of the millennials in the city cannot afford their rent. Drawing info from the U.S. Census Bureau the numbers are not petty. Millennials, defined as people ages 18 to 34, are earning and saving less as real estate prices continue to rise. Even though it’s the generation with the most renters (65.5 percent rent versus own a home), it’s still a struggle to afford even that. And for millennials nationwide who are renting, 46.5 percent consider housing costs a burden.

And when you get to New York City, the second most expensive U.S. City, 48.8 percent of millennials spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. Gen Xers and Baby Boomers spend nearly the same amount (48.4 percent and 51.0 percent, respectively).

The top 10 most expensive cities below, with average rental prices for a single person:

  1. San Francisco, $2,077
  2. New York City, $1,994
  3. Boston, $1,721
  4. Washington, D.C., $1,397
  5. Seattle, $1,288
  6. Los Angeles, $1,200
  7. Miami, $1,192
  8. Chicago, $1,045
  9. Houston, $625
  10. Detroit, $457



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