In New York, a Housing Market That’s More Like a Battlefield

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Williamsburg. The Lower East Side. Alphabet City.

These are just some of the trendy neighborhoods in New York City where young hip 20-somethings have traditionally chosen to make their homes. At least, it’s been a tradition for the past 15 years or so. There’s also Greenwich Village, a classic spot for newly minted adults chasing their artistic or creative dreams going back to the burgeoning folk scene of the 1960s. And there are still untapped sections of Brooklyn worth exploring — if you have the time, the patience and the money.

But what about if you’re one-half of a steady couple? A married pair? A new set of parents? Surely you can’t subject your kids to the grungy, free-spirited energy of those youngblood neighborhoods. You probably want a quieter place to settle into in order to raise a family. In fact, studies show that 35% of new parents right now are either planning to move to a new home or have already done so.

In NYC, more and more people in their 20s and 30s are sticking to uptown apartments because of the pleasant accommodations they entail.
In NYC, more and more people in their 20s and 30s are sticking to uptown apartments because of the pleasant accommodations they entail.

In New York, your answer might just be the Upper East Side. That’s if you don’t mind sharing a building with a few 20-somethings, of course. Despite the downtown hallmarks of the trendy youth culture in NYC, more and more people in their 20s and 30s are sticking to uptown apartments because of the pleasant accommodations they entail. As The New York Times reports, it’s not uncommon for flats on 74th Street to have ample kitchen space complete with marble sinks. Contrast that with the messier, spottier aesthetic of places near the Ludlow Street downtown (where the rent’s comparable but you might have to climb over the sink to reach the toilet).

Contending with recent college grads isn’t the biggest issue for new families in New York, though. Last fall, Salon ran a harrowing piece by Cari Luna which described the shared plight of middle-class families trapped in the city’s vast savings account-sucking real estate market. Luna’s facts were tight: “According to a 2013 study by the Economic Policy Institute, the average family of four needs $93K to survive modestly in New York…It’s the most expensive place to live in the United States.”

You might have realized that already. But seeing it so definitively in print might be enough to make you think twice about your future plans within the big city blinking. Or it could be an invitation to challenge those notions. After all, reports and trends are only half the story, and the rest you don’t find out until you’re actually there back living in the thick of it.

For starters, you could always try the Bronx. Not typically talked about in most discussions about the New York real estate market, Bedford Park in the city’s northernmost borough is becoming a “stable” option when it comes to finances. That’s what another Times piece suggests anyway, but there’s some truth to it. Real estate agent Oscar Cabrera referred to Bedford Park and other Bronx neighborhoods like it as “the last bastions of affordability in New York City.”

The best answer for you? Do your homework and be prepared to look outside of your comfort zone. At least, that’s what the city’s apartment brokers will tell you.

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