What's it Cost? Living in a 2-Bedroom in NYC

Before I moved to New York, I found it really difficult to get clear facts on how much I should be spending on an apartment. It's especially complex to estimate the cost of multiple bedrooms, too, when you take fake-walls and whatnot into consideration. If you look on most rental websites, you'll find dramatically high rent quotes per neighborhood, most of which don't represent the average.  And if you look on Craigslist, you can find dramatically low rates, most of which are unfortunately fake. All in all, it takes some time to get a feel for what is a reasonable rental cost in NYC and a lot of that depends on the neighborhood, the building and its amenities, and the landlord and some luck.

Prices will vary. That's why I've started up the "What's It Cost?" series which provides readers with a glimpse inside the raw financial details of various 20-somethings' living situations and apartment costs. We've covered studios and 1-bedrooms, and today we dive into 2-bedrooms! 

2 BR in Gramercy  - $4,000

Monthly Rent: In 2013 = $3550 |Now= $4000 | Broken Down: $2000 pp

Roommate Situation: I have one roommate

Age/ Occupation or Industry:

23/ Logistics

23/ Executive Assistant at El Media Group

Utilities (Total Only): Average of $350 split by two people 

Apartment Description:

High rise elevator and doorman building with live in super and laundry room on the mezzanine level. True two-bedroom apartment and one full bathroom. Very spacious living room and open kitchen with new appliances. Must provide own AC unit and temperature controlled heat. 

How I do it: 

Before this October, my parents paid for all of my rent and I paid for utilities. Since the rent has gone up I also pay the difference of rent from last year to this year ($225). Because of this I am able to save up x amount of dollars a month for the future.  

Money Saving tips: 

Avoid going out to eat as much as possible. I limit myself to two meals out a week (typically one lunch and one dinner). This saves a TON of money and keeps you healthier too, which is always a plus. 


2BR Upper East Side - $2,400

Monthly Rent: $2,400: Broken out, $1250/$1150 (my share)

Roommate Situation: I have 1 roommate

Age/Occupation or Industry:

25/Staff Attorney at an Entertainment Law Firm

25/Sales Representative at a Startup Company

Utilities: Average of $250, split evenly

Apartment Description: 

3rd floor walkup on the Upper East Side that features one large bedroom (his) and one small bedroom (mine). The living room is on the smaller size, but still is enough room to fit a dartboard, large TV and sectional couch while not sacrificing kitchen space. Although my room is small, I still am able to fit my oversized dresser and queen size bed.

How I Do It/Money Saving Tips: 

Identify your vices, and stick to them exclusively. For me, my two main indulgences are craft beer and food, so I try to make sure if I am spending money, it is only on that. For the time being, my parents help me out a small amount, but mainly to combat my large amount of student loans that must be paid back.


2 Bedroom Upper West Side - $2400

Monthly Rent: 2014 $2400  | Broken out: $1200 pp

Roommate Situation: I have 1 roommate

Age/Occupation or Industry:

25/ Fashion Sales

25/Media Advertising

Utilities (Total Only): Average of $250 split 2 ways  $125/$125

Apartment Description:

Our apt. is a True 2 bedroom located on W 83rd btw Columbus and Amsterdam. Both bedrooms can easily fit a queen-sized bed and we also boast a decently sized living room/kitchen area. The building however is a walk up and we live on the ground level. The building is dated, but thankfully our unit has updated appliances and hardwood throughout. The biggest draw for us to our apartment was its location. What it lacks in amenities it surely makes up for with perfect location. We are 1 block from Central Park and a stone’s throw away from tons of great bars and restaurants. It also helps with commuting to work (midtown) due to the express 2,3 trains being so close. All in all we love our place and think we found a great deal. 

How I Do It/Money Saving Tips:

Being two socially active 25 year-old males, this has not been easy. We love to party but have learned to try and tone it down and solely become "weekend warriors." The easiest way to do this is by going to the gym (to pass time and stay healthy) and by cooking meals at home (to save dinero) during the week. We have also found out smoking weed and playing video games is sometimes just as fun as going out. The couch can be magical spot Mon-Thurs. 


2 BR in Chelsea - $2825

Monthly Rent: 2012 $2650, Now = $2825 

Roommate Situation: 1 roommate

Age/Occupation or Industry:


Utilities (Total Only): Gas/Electric ~$135 

Apartment Description: 

Fifth floor walkup. 2 bedroom/1 bath apartment. One bedroom is significantly bigger than other. No laundry on premise. 

How I Do It/Money Saving Tips:

On occasion, I AirBnB the second bedroom, but I caution others to do their due diligence when it comes to the legality of their individual situation with respect to the current NY laws. Also, I'm very frugal in general; I don't drink, so money isn't wasted on alcohol. I buy generic household or pantry-type products at Harmon or on Amazon (price/unit is way cheaper). More so, there are tons of free events in NYC on LivingFreeNYC.com, GuestofaGuest, and ClubFreeTime. Additionally, I've considered canceling cable and just using Hulu+ or Netflix but have yet to make the leap. 


1 BR converted to 2 in Midtown - $2660

Monthly Rent: 2014 $2660

Roommate Situation: 1 roommate 

Age/Occupation or Industry:

25 - accountant

28- account exec advertising

Utilities (Total Only): $0, Built into rent 

Apartment Description: 

High-rise, luxury building with an elevator and doormen/concierge services. It’s a 1-bedroom corner unit converted into a 2-bedroom/1-bath (with bedrooms on opposite sides of the apartment). This was made possible with one “fill wall” that’s very sturdy and goes all the way up the ceiling. Most buildings no longer allow full walls to be put up; they generally have to be 12 inches from the ceiling. However, as this wall was already up when I moved in, they allowed it to stay.  The living room and kitchen are pretty small but there’s a fair amount of closet space and large balcony. Large rooftop and gym in building, gym costs extra.

How I Do It/Money Saving Tips:

This pricing situation is not typical for midtown Manhattan and especially for a luxury building – we’re also the only apartment in the building that has a balcony, as the apartment sits on top of one of the New York public library buildings. So, we got lucky in terms of rent. I also save money by using Groupons, Jacks 99 cent store, and avoiding ridiculously priced places like Starbucks and cafe chains.