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Manhattan
  • $1500   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $2963   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $4679   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3
  • (traditional vs. non-traditional roommates)
  • (the rest of the  northeast US)

99% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
unrealistic expectations, dashed Broadway dreams, couchsurfers
public transit, pedestrian friendly, museums, restaurants, local professional sports 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Manhattan roommate rundown:

After hearing from many thousands of wishful Manhattan roommates, we're offering our Proceed with Caution Preamble (extremely similar to the Brooklyn preamble above): If your Manhattan lifestyle is entirely imagined thus far . . .

. . . if you've yet to nail down any serious details . . .
. . . it's likely less realistic than you think.

No, not saying you're stupid, saying this is true of almost everyone not in Manhattan (or Brooklyn or San Francisco). So many roommates imagined they could get along pretty easily here for at least a year, working only part time, freelance, or in the gig economy . . . to explore local life via roommates before making any longer-term geographic commitments, and/or just for the excitement of Manhattan for a spell before moving on.

And in most of the cities on this list, that actually works! Many succeed.

You could too, provided you can support yourself locally some way you won't hate that's still lucrative enough to pay your roommate share.

There's obviously a range, but you could gig your way into a lot of realistic roommate scenarios and experience huge urbanity for non-huge money . . . again, in most of the cities on this list.

Less so this one.

Overall, definitely including cost, Manhattan is a LOT.

Manhattan is the most densely populated area on the East Coast. This long thin island with concrete canyons is the most expensive place to live in the entire country. Even after rent, it's still the most expensive place to live. Even with roommates, the overall cost of living remains very high.

We're not trying to be down on Manhattan. Many Manhattanites love their borough! It has so much to recommend it!

But everything Manhattan is competitive, everything is crowded, and everything is more expensive than you're probably imagining if you don't already truly know.

And you might not ultimately enjoy yourself as much as you're currently imagining if you'd have to struggle too much to pay for everything.

At the overcrowded corner of Wealth & Prosperity, your rent will cost more than almost everywhere else in the country, even with roommates. This to live in real estate that will NOT be nicer. Definitely not more spacious.

In addition, be warned that even after paying the "I live in Manhattan" surcharge . . . no one in their right mind ever moves to Manhattan just to stay home in a tiny room.

So you have to pay not just your own inflated rent, but all the other unreasonably high charges for everything else all over the rest of your overpriced neighborhood, so you can be out and about too in all that's exciting in Manhattan that includes . . .

Wall Street. Broadway. Times Square. Central Park. Chinatown. Lower East Side. The Empire State Building. TriBeCa. Carnegie Hall. Harlem. St. Patrick's Day Parade. The Museum of Modern Art. Madison Avenue. Battery Park. Greenwich Village. East Village. Staten Island Ferry. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. New York Comic Con. Fashion Week. Birdland. The New York Stock Exchange. The Apollo. High Line Park. The American Museum of Natural History. The New York Public Library.

In fact, other than admission (a lot free) to much of the above, street food carts are about all that's NOT overpriced in Manhattan. Not just hot dogs and pizza, but delis with bagels and varnishkes, coffee and croissant carts, bodega food, wraps, exotic tacos . . . an entirely worldwide ethnic variety of faster food options. As decent but still cheap street treats are about the only bargains around, don't miss out!

Manhattan is extremely well-served by a lot of public transport, including subways, buses, a ferry network, and commuter rail, all the way to the suburbs. Walkable bridges to everywhere are everywhere. Also tunnels, but you wouldn't want to walk some of those.

Since there's so little space left for anything, Manhattan's entire infrastructure discourages car ownership. If you're not wealthy (apartments that come with their own secure parking spaces are usually extremely expensive), you probably don't own a car at all . . . or if you do, you pay less to park it somewhere other than Manhattan that you'll have to commute to whenever you need the car again.

Day to day, most Manhattanites walk or take the subway or bus most of the time. The most obvious form of transportation is walking, and it's the best way to see Manhattan, always.

(Or you can also take helicopters and seaplanes. But those cost more. (Also horse-drawn carriages . . . but you can't take them all the places either.))

Cycling can be faster, but cycling this borough is not for the faint of heart. Or calves. Many car drivers are aggressive, not seeming to take any caution whatsoever when sharing the road with cyclists. Potholes, garbage, car doors, and pedestrians will suddenly appear right in front of you, all too often with no warning and no great place to swerve.

Honestly, we're not even sure we'd recommend it, except many actually love cycling NYC and it can save a lot of time and money. Of course, that's only super helpful if you actually survive, right? If you do want to cycle this concrete jungle, wear at least a helmet (if not full body armor) and try to take bike paths whenever possible? Then pray, if you're into that.

Meanwhile, if you don't have a serious reason to be in Manhattan most of the week that's probably your full-time job or in-person full-time-ish education (and/or you're not independently wealthy and/or in possession of the family-owned and/or rent-controlled place, etc.) . . . you would probably find it more affordable and thus less stressful to live most anywhere else on this list also along the East Coast . . .

. . . then VISIT.

Possibly a lot. Which you'll easily afford, since all your bills will be less. Since Manhattan is connected to everything else via all that public transport, visiting should be relatively easy and fast!

You can still be special too! Even if you don't live in Manhattan or Brooklyn!

You can be just as special living life on less expensive real estate . . . maybe even more special, if special can ultimately involve actually feeling less stressed out?

(Everyone Else (already in Manhattan with ongoing full-time reasons): Carry on, and apologies for the interruption! This preamble is the best thing for you too! Even if you didn't need to read it! ;) )

The rest of the Manhattan roommate lowdown:

  • at the mouth of the Hudson River, the southernmost tip of New York state
  • high temperatures in summer with frequent freezes in winter
  • most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City, but the smallest in land area
  • Manhattan is not just the most densely populated in NYC, but in the world, with about 1.7 million people living within about 23 square miles. That's about 72,000 residents per square mile, with the most expensive real estate in the United States.
  • highest per capita income of anywhere in the United States
  • highest cost of living of anywhere in the United States
  • largest number of students and workers commuting in, home to the most corporate headquarters
  • Walking is the primary means of travel, followed by subway (so actually both). Manhattan's subway system is one of the largest in the world.
  • home to the United Nations Headquarters
  • home to Columbia University, Barnard College, Fordham College at Lincoln Center, Cooper Union, Marymount Manhattan College, New York Institute of Technology, New York University, The Juilliard School, Pace University, Berkeley College, The New School, Bank Street College of Education, Boricua College, Manhattan School of Music, and the Metropolitan College of New York, School of Visual Arts
  • Hotels are extremely expensive in Manhattan, year round, but even more so around any holiday. If you're visiting and want to stay in one, book as far in advance as possible.
  • Some of Manhattan previously sported a dangerous reputation, but that's almost entirely in the past. Most of Manhattan is really safe now, almost completely gentrified and hardly ever depopulated. You should still always be aware who is around you on the street, and beware of pickpockets or purse snatchers, particularly if your purse looks expensive. Keep any purse closed and in front of you at all times. Keep an eye on your electronics, and store your valuables in interior or securely closed pockets.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Manhattan's:

  • The New York Public Library: Largest collection of any public library system in the country
  • Wall Street: Hosts both the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ in lower Manhattan
  • Keith Haring's 'Once Upon a Time' Bathroom Mural: The most valuable restroom in the country, featuring Haring's last major mural before his death. The mural is now restored and you can visit it for free at "The Center" on 13th Street.
  • Second Avenue subway art: NYC's newest subway line features mosaic portraits, larger than life scale.
  • Central Park: It's impossible to imagine just how much is going on here at any given moment.
  • New York Academy of Medicine Rare Book Library: Rare ephemera and medical writing from as far back as the 1700s.
  • Riot Grrrl Collection at the Fales Library at NYC: Documenting the evolution of the Riot Grrrl movement, particularly between 1989 and 1996. Audio and video recordings of shows, fanzines, correspondence, artwork, photos, newspaper clippings, flyers, and stickers. "This research collection provides primary resources for scholars and others who are interested in feminism, punk activism, queer theory, gender theory, DIY culture, print history, and music history." You might need an appointment to visit, better check before going.
  • La Plaza Cultural: Once an empty corner lot collecting crime and garbage, now reclaimed as a community center and garden. Currently hosts a variety of vegetables, flowers, fruit trees, and community events.


Here's the news page for the Manhattan borough, much of which is housing or transportation relevant.





Notes

1.   The non-traditional roommate rent average for this city we've experienced over the last 3 years. We can't predict future rental availability, because we're neither in control of any rental market nor psychic, sorry!

But in most cities most of the time, the recent and relatively recent past are the best predictors.


2.   This idea came from smartasset.com's ranking of what a roommate saves you in 50 cities. They ranked where roommates will save you the most money, based on the average cost of a 1BR as opposed to a 2BR ÷ 2. Unsurprisingly, the more expensive the city, the more you can save, but the savings are significant in all larger metros. So we got the data for the rest of our cities from Zumper too.

This is really the minimum you could save, as you could live with more than one roommate, split more services, share food or other supplies, etc. More sharing tends to lead to more savings too, as per our roommate roadmap.

As per the rest of the description at the top of this page, we're calling this "traditional" roommate rent.


3.   From zumper.com.


4.   Directly quoted from the Trust for Public Land's parkland rating system.

"The ParkScore index awards each city up to 100 points for acreage based on the average of two equally weighted measures: median park size and parkland as a percentage of city area. Factoring park acreage into each city’s ParkScore rating helps account for the importance of larger “destination parks” that serve many users who live farther than ten minutes’ walking distance."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual ParkScore, nature lovers might like to see all roommate cities ranked for parkland.


5.   Directly quoted from Walk Score's Cities and Neighborhoods Ranking. They've ranked "more than 2,800 cities and over 10,000 neighborhoods so you can find a walkable home or apartment."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual Walk Score, dedicated pedestrians might like to see all roommate cities ranked for walkability.


6.   From various lists here on our own best roommate cities.