West Village for under 2 k?
December 22, 2010 5:58 PM   Subscribe

My BFF is moving to NYC. I'm thrilled for him and want to help him find the best place possible...

He wants to be in the West Village, 2k or under. Any suggestions? Any advice? Should he use a broker? We want to find him the best place possible, because of course, I'm gonna be visiting lots!! Thanks for any help or tips!!! All suggestions welcome!!!
posted by pearlybob to Society & Culture (36 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The West Village for under 2,000 is not going to happen.

Look at listings on Craigslist, Streeteasy, etc.

Unless your friend is in the market for luxury housing, and it doesn't sound like he is, I would forgo a broker.

Define "best place possible."

New York is extremely expensive; the vast majority of apartments are going to be very small.

Landlords like will want to see:

1) Evidence of employment
2) Pay stubs
3) Credit check/history
4) Tax returns (well, at least some will want to see this info)
posted by dfriedman at 6:04 PM on December 22, 2010

A place by himself is highly unlikely for under $2000 in the West Village, but he might find a share for around that.

There are lots of past threads about moving to NYC that would be good to look at.

My advice: it is much easier to find a place when you are here. Find a short term sublet for a couple of months, then start your search in earnest. Agreeing that you can probably skip the broker, and use apartment listing (don't forget paper listings like the Voice).
posted by kimdog at 6:13 PM on December 22, 2010

Use CraigsList to find apartments.

Read some of the many AskMe questions about this.

We don't really have many details here even though you specified West Village for under $2000. Is he open to having roommates? How much is he willing to compromise on the neighborhood? How soon does he need the place?
posted by John Cohen at 6:13 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I live in the West Village for under 2k. I have a roommate. My room is so small that I purchased my bed in the children's section of Ikea. The water pressure comes in and out. Two of the steps in the stair are broken. The front door to the building breaks periodically. The building I live in started out as a brothel/"hotel for sailors" so there are hallway bathrooms that once flooded one of the apartments. When I moved in I tried to clean one of the windows and it fell out of the frame and nearly killed me.

Anyway, it's totes possible to live here under 2k! I'm moving this summer and would be happy to sign over my lease to your dude. Let me know.
posted by prefpara at 6:18 PM on December 22, 2010 [11 favorites]

Response by poster: HE has a great job, big company, all the job stuff will be no issue. Just wondering where to start, maybe another neighborhood would be more to his needs? Gay, high end job, wants a Home but wants access to fun stuff too. Close to W Village.
posted by pearlybob at 6:22 PM on December 22, 2010

Response by poster: No roomates. movining Feb 12.
posted by pearlybob at 6:24 PM on December 22, 2010

Just wondering where to start, maybe another neighborhood would be more to his needs?

It's not that another neighborhood would be better suited to his personality. After all, we don't know him. The thing is: if he won't live with roommates, and he won't pay more than $2000, he probably won't have much luck by limiting his search to the West Village. Somewhere in Brooklyn would be more realistic. He's probably not going to get everything he wants; there are tradeoffs to be made.
posted by John Cohen at 6:30 PM on December 22, 2010

http://ny.curbed.com - follow the link to marketplace, then rentals.

also google maps has a real estate overlay that'll give you lots of data

also brickunderground.com for ny apartment hunting tips
posted by devbrain at 6:31 PM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

If he's moving February 12th then he's still going to need to plan on signing the lease on February 1st and paying for the whole month, which means hunting vigorously through most of January. If he doesn't live there already, I don't see how he can afford to NOT use a broker, because on his apartment hunting trips he will not have time to mess around answering a bunch of ads.
posted by hermitosis at 7:00 PM on December 22, 2010

If you could tell us why he wants to move to the West Village, it could be easier for us to suggest more affordable neighborhoods. Is it just the location, or is there a particular vibe he's looking for? All we know about him is that he's gay and has a good job. He could easily find a very nice 1BR in a happening Brooklyn neighborhood (Park Slope maybe) for under $2k.

Pretty much anywhere else in America, $2k would get you an amazing apartment, but unfortunately in any neighborhood in Manhattan that is south of Harlem and near the subway, that is not the case. I don't know what rents are like on much of the Lower East Side, but maybe check that out too? It gets cheaper as you go further east in that neighborhood, but it also gets further from the subway. Same with Hell's Kitchen.

If he wants a place bigger than a 1BR that's still in a nice neighborhood, he could definitely find something nice in Astoria, which is where I live. I love it here. But it is not convenient to the West Village, if that's a problem for him. It is very convenient to midtown.

As for brokers, he might as well look for brokers in those neighborhoods just to see if they even have any places in his range. You don't have to pay a broker unless they find you a place, so that would probably be worth it. I do find them helpful even when not looking for luxury housing. If he can find a good broker who really does the legwork for him (they are out there), it's worth the money if he has it, so he doesn't have to go sifting through bogus Craigslist listings. I still don't think he's going to find what he's looking for in a trendy Manhattan neighborhood, though.
posted by wondermouse at 7:08 PM on December 22, 2010

Response by poster: He's moving because of a job transfer. Good job, credit and money not an option, he just feels like West Village is the place. I'm trying to help him do his research since he's just sold his house down South and the apartment search is real now. He works in NYC a lot!!! But we are open to better, places to live. All suggestions welcome.
posted by pearlybob at 7:28 PM on December 22, 2010

Wondermouse, my brother has a 3br share on the LES for close to 4k. His bedroom is the size of my UWS closet.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:31 PM on December 22, 2010

roomthreeseventeen, I knew someone who had a nice alcove studio in a nice apartment building on the LES for under $2000 just last year. It really depends, and depends on how many bedrooms pearlybob's friend is looking for. pearlybob, it would help to know specifics of what your friend is looking for in an apartment and neighborhood, including how long he is willing to commute (by subway presumably). Knowing one neighborhood he likes is unfortunately not much to go on when it is over his price point.
posted by wondermouse at 7:41 PM on December 22, 2010

This is a great tool to see the range of prices in different parts of the city.

And I agree with the others that he should cross the West Village off his list at that price range, unless he's willing to have a roommate. In fact, I'd cross most of Manhattan below 95th street off his list.
posted by Sara C. at 7:45 PM on December 22, 2010

Also, if he likes the West Village, similar neighborhoods in his price range would include most of "brownstone Brooklyn", i.e. Carroll Gardens, Boerum/Cobble Hill(s), Park Slope, Fort Greene, Clinto Hill, and maybe even the nicer parts of Bed Stuy. Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, and Vinegar Hill are probably out of his price range, but would be worth a look. Astoria and Sunnyside, in Queens, would also possibly be worth a look.

Depending on where he's commuting to, I'd also look at Morningside Heights, western Harlem, Washington and Hudson Heights, and Inwood. These are all neighborhoods along the west side of Manhattan, on the main West Side subway lines (A/C/E and 1/2/3) that, in addition to being bougie in a similar way to the West Village, are also conveniently located to that area if he prefers to hang out there.

It would be really key for him to understand that the neighborhood you live in often doesn't correspond directly to the neighborhood you hang out in.
posted by Sara C. at 7:56 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Clinton Hill, sorry.
posted by Sara C. at 7:57 PM on December 22, 2010

Have you explained to him that starting out, even with a transfer from a good job, it is not unusual to start out expecting to spend one whole paycheck (of two a month) on rent? I'm sure some nyc mefites will disagree with me, but when I first moved to NYC a friend basically told me to go in expecting to spend a paycheck on rent, and I think it was for the best. Eventually my pay outpaced my rent increases and it no longer cost one paycheck, but I don't regret spending that money my first few years out here to live in the neighborhood I wanted to live in and not worrying about it.

Craigslist, streeteasy are fine places to look for apartments, but it is likely he will have to pay a broker. That doesn't mean you have to work with one and only one.

And finally, brownstone Brookyln is NOTHING LIKE the west village. I live in the west village because I like to be near shit that is happening. Brownstone Brooklyn is charming in its own way, but it is in no way shape or form the west village. But I might suggest looking in Chelsea, which has slightly less of the convenience and charm (although arguably more charm in less convenient places), and can have somewhat more affordable options (I think finding a decent 1bed for less than 3K a month is definitely doable there).
posted by ch1x0r at 8:44 PM on December 22, 2010

I live in the west village because I like to be near shit that is happening

A lot of people would beg to differ.

The great thing about New York is that there are a lot of spheres of activity. I'd never live in Manhattan again, because it's boring and would be a schlep to do things I like to do and see friends.

Also, in terms of architecture, scale, neighborhood layout, and what things physically looks like, brownstone Brooklyn = West Village. They were developed around the same era and the landscape is very, very similar. Especially if you're from a different part of the country where the mere ability to walk to a coffee shop is something special.
posted by Sara C. at 8:53 PM on December 22, 2010 [4 favorites]

Brooklyn has lots of things for you to do because you do Brooklyn things and have Brooklyn friends. Which is GREAT and I am not trying to take that away from you. But don't front like being in brownstone brooklyn is the same as being in the west village. It is not. The crowds are smaller and more sedate. The restaurant choices are great, but still, not as amazing. If your friends are predominately in Manhattan, your job is in Manhattan, the places you want to eat and drink and shop are in Manhattan, you may not be happy being in Brooklyn. I would absolutely not be happy living in Brooklyn because I don't want to be a train ride away from things, I want to be living in them here and now.
Anyway, if the friend in question wants to live in the w.vill because he thinks it is charming in appearance then definitely, live in Brooklyn, it is quite a bit more bang for your buck charming-wise. But I would not call any neighborhood in Brooklyn similar to the west village in any way other than the most superficial.
posted by ch1x0r at 9:21 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would absolutely not be happy living in Brooklyn because I don't want to be a train ride away from things, I want to be living in them here and now.

(We totally have "things" in Brooklyn. I promise. And, to reiterate for the topic of the thread, $2000 will not get you a place in the West Village. Period. OP's friend needs to find a neighborhood he can actually afford to live in. A lot of very affordable neighborhoods share qualities with the West Village, up to and including there being "things to do" there. The only people who are going to be disappointed with the level of stuff to do in places that are not the West Village are people who grew up in the West Village. Which OP's friend did not. That is all I'm going to say.)
posted by Sara C. at 9:31 PM on December 22, 2010

Enough with the Brooklyn vs Manhattan BS.

Posted to MeTa.
posted by dfriedman at 9:38 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

padmapper is the best site ever for finding NYC apartments. no more hours spent wandering aimlessly through CL.
posted by soma lkzx at 9:58 PM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

pearlybob, could you clarify what your friend's resources are?

high end job and Good job, credit and money not an option, Did you mean money is not a impediment, maybe?

Echoing others, I know of 400 square foot studios in Murray Hill that rent for $1850 a month, but Murray Hill is nothing like the West Village.
posted by mlis at 10:41 PM on December 22, 2010

If money is no problem, why the arbitrary $2k limit?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:09 AM on December 23, 2010 [4 favorites]

If he raises his budget just a little bit, he should be fine finding a place in the West Village, especially if he is searching in the winter months, or can start renting in the middle of the month when landlords may be a little more flexible about price. At the moment, I'm typing this in a very nice, quite big by NY standards, one bedroom corner apartment with a pass-thru kitchen, hardwood floors, and 5 huge windows, on arguably the most desirable corner in the neighborhood. $2300 a month, lease signed last April. Found on Craigslist. If he has a good job and good credit, he can snag a great place like this. For the record, Brooklyn can be just as expensive in my opinion. However, Brooklyn is also a lot more vibrant and full of community and culture and energy and filled with better bars, cozier spaces, more interesting venues, and great+cheap restaurants and unique spots to constantly discover (while the West Village is a dried husk of the memories of when it was like that itself, rather than composed of NYU students, transient professionals, touristy restaurants and bars for visitors who come via tunnel and LIRR), but the buildings here are pretty to look at and it's convenient to get to work. Craigslist should be his first stop, at any rate. Good luck to him..
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 4:42 AM on December 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Okay: let me address the definition of "close" to the West Village.

The subway, despite the grumbling we do about it, is not bad. I live in a Brooklyn neighborhood which is actually pretty damn inconvenient to subways - the one subway that is closest to me only runs between Brooklyn and Queens, and in order to get to another line that would get me to Manhattan, I would have to change trains.

And even so -- it would take me only about a half hour, at MOST, to get to any destination in the West Village, door-to-door. There are a couple other spots even just IN my neighborhood where, if I lived there, it could cut that down to about 15-20 minutes.

Since the West Village is very well served by about three different subway lines, and since most of those lines run 24 hours, that really does expand the definition of the word "close". Most of the places in Brooklyn people have recommended would easily put you in the West Village that fast; you'd only get into an hour-long commute if you were trying to get there from Bay Ridge, say, or the Bronx.

If you're looking for proximity to a particular neighborhood, I'd also consider trying to see how long it would take you to get from a potential apartment to a given address in the West Village. There are a couple different subway sites, like Hopstop, where you can research that -- plug in two addresses and it'll tell you how to get from point A to point B, and how long it would take. That'd be a great way to check how long the subway commute from "potential apartment" to "West Village" may be, and that can tell you a lot.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:18 AM on December 23, 2010

NYC native here. If he's never lived in NYC before maybe he should just sublet a place for a few months while he gets a feel for different neighborhoods.
posted by mareli at 6:19 AM on December 23, 2010 [5 favorites]

I think your friend should find an inexpensive month-to-month situation somewhere within a 30 minute commute of his job. That can be his headquarters for exploring the city and getting a grip, not just on what he can afford, but on the actual meaning of physical distances in this milieu.

New Yorkers talk like the outer boroughs are other galaxies, but by the standards of many other cities in the world, the whole thing is really not that big (in terms of geographic area), and if you live and work near the subway (very likely), then the commute need not take very long.

Things are not "near" the West Village, in the same way that, say, someone might live "near" Westport in Kansas City. There is no suburban sprawl inside Manhattan; you are either living one place, or another.
posted by bingo at 6:26 AM on December 23, 2010

NYC native here. If he's never lived in NYC before maybe he should just sublet a place for a few months while he gets a feel for different neighborhoods.
posted by mareli at 9:19 AM on December 23 [+] [!]

I too am a long-time NYC resident, and have lived in most neighborhoods and in Brooklyn. Landing and testing things out is definitely the way to go, at these prices. Sublet for at least 6 months to understand the terrain. The thing is, New York neighborhoods can grind you down or make life here completely wonderful. Fall in love first, then marry. Plus, the West Village isn't like it is in the movies. (Just sayin' 'cause I have a friend who was hellbent on living there after her SATC-obsessed adolescence. She moved there, went through a pile of money, hated the close, narrow crowded streets and now lives on the UES and loves it!)
posted by thinkpiece at 7:54 AM on December 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Sublet, since your friend has decided on the West Village solely because he "feels like it's the place." When I moved here, I had a sublet for 3 months in Harlem. It was the best decision I could've made. It gave me time to get to know the city better, understand what my commute would be like from different neighborhoods, time to hunt for the perfect apartment, etc. It's really difficult to pick out a place if you don't know the area and are just basing your decisions on some vague idea of what you think a neighborhood is like. I'd also say that if he is dead set on the west village, he's going to need to readjust his budget. 2K is not going to get him anything more than a closet if he doesn't want roommates, and even then, it's not going to be very large.
posted by coupdefoudre at 8:18 AM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just completed a NY apartment search, moving from Philly. (2-bedroom loft apartment in DUMBO; used a broker; were really happy we did, because we saved a lot of time and found a GREAT apartment; didn't have to pay a fee.)

Just want to recommend Hotpads. It's a really fantastic resource if you don't already have a broker or agent helping you.

If you want a recommendation for a great Brooklyn-based agent (the experience level below broker), memail me.
posted by nosila at 3:27 PM on December 23, 2010

I'm going to post something that most people will not believe but I know of a couple who got a 1 bdrm apartment in Greenwich Village for $800 about a year ago or less. They went through a broker. Basically someone who'd had a rent control apartment for a gazillion years had died, there was fire damage and the landlord said that if they were willing to do the cosmetic repairs themselves he'd charge them $800/month. Not sure what the rent would have been if he had to fix it up. Was it a one in a million lucky break? Most likely. Will your friend be so lucky? Probably not. But I would have never considered using a broker before I heard this, so it might pay to seek one out. I also know someone who got an apartment within the last year in Murray Hill for $2000/year. Her boyfriend, who's a life long New Yorker and owns an optician shop in Greenwich Village basically asked everyone he knew and canvassed doormen at decent looking non-luxury buildings if they knew of anything. It seems like he'd need a lot of luck and/or a great deal of persistence, but it may not be impossible.
posted by kaybdc at 4:03 PM on December 23, 2010

but it may not be impossible

I've lived in New York for a decade and never heard of anyone getting deals like that. I'm sure it's happened, and I'm not questioning kaybdc's account. But, OP, I really would not get your friend's hopes up with stories like this. Because they are almost nonexistent (and typically reserved for people who grew up in the city and are renting from family members).
posted by Sara C. at 9:00 PM on December 23, 2010

Here is a list of West Village buildings, their addresses and the owners' contact info: walk ups.

West Village No Fee Rental Apartments in your price range.

Having been a super of 2 Hell's Kitchen buildings and lived here for 24 years, I'd like to say something about the owner of the building where one rents. The owner or building management company makes all the difference in how a building is maintained, that the boiler/hot water system works, that the building security door and intercom are appropriately maintained, that the roof's not leaky, that plumbing problems that happen in apartment buildings are taken care of immediately. That the building manager doesn't have a brothel or illegal (usually bedbug ridden) hotel going in any of the apartments to pad his/her salary. That the neighbors are not awful (like having disco sized speakers that rattle the walls or are crack dealers etc).

AJ Clarke Management has about 200 buildings around the city, or more. I highly recommend living in one of their buildings. Here is their website where one can look for prices and places. To the best of my knowledge there is no broker's fee if one calls them or contacts them directly. I suggest calling them and speaking sweetly to the receptionist.

There are other building owners in NYC who each own hundreds of buildings. These guys do not service their buildings nicely but their prices may well be better and I've heard of a tenant negotiating the price down if the apartment is on the 5th floor of a 5 storey walk up: going from $2000 a month down to $1650: Vampire Empire Management, their listings today. Other property management companies with no fee listings.
posted by nickyskye at 5:06 AM on December 24, 2010 [5 favorites]

Move to the East Village or LES. The vibe is younger and hipper but still basically of a piece with that in the WV, and he should be able to find something under $2k just fine as long as he's not looking for luxury.
posted by decoherence at 2:25 PM on December 24, 2010

I was just reminded of nybits and came to post the link that nickyskye posted (or more generally, a link to a search for apts under 2K. There are actually a few sub 2K listings in the West Village, so it might suck, but it can be done.
posted by ch1x0r at 10:17 AM on December 26, 2010

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