What's it Cost? Living in a Studio Apt in NYC

In most other places in America, asking someone how much they pay in rent would be considered a cringe-worthy social faux-pas, to say the least. 

In New York, though, it's about as common as asking someone how their day went. With millions of strangers living quite literally atop one another, we tend to both commiserate and celebrate over some otherwise-intimate details regarding one another's lives.

For outsiders and newcomers, however, it can be awfully difficult to pin down all the numbers. That's why I'll be kicking off the new series "What's it Cost?" and delving into apartment living by the numbers. We'll start with studios and eventually move into 1 BRs, 2BRs, etc., giving readers the low down on everything from monthly rent, building and apartment descriptions and real-life money-saving tips.*

*NOTE: Each of the examples below have been provided by current New Yorkers. Do you live in a studio and want to add your information to the list? If so, please contact me and I'd be happy to add in your details anonymously!

The Upper East Side Studio

Age/Location/Occupation or Industry: 25/Upper East 70s/Medical Field

Monthly Rent: $1774 (year 1), $2000 (by year 3, due to price increase)

Utilities: $60-$100 per month for electricity/internet, $15 a month for unlimited laundry in the building

Apartment Description: First floor walk-up in a building of all studios, fully & newly renovated on a tree-lined street. Wooden floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, etc. The kitchen is separated from the rest of the apartment and has all new appliances. Bathroom is a really decent size for New York with glass doors and plenty of space for shelving. My studio faces the back courtyard of patios which is great as there's never much traffic noise - though residents street-side have to deal with the nearby hospitals, etc.

Roommate Situation: No roommates

How I Do It/Money Saving Tips: My only real tip on on how to save money in NYC is to make more of it. On top of my actual job, I also babysit weekly and freelance in fashion so I always make sure there's enough to spend when I want to go out and still save. 

The East Village Studio

Age/Location/Occupation or Industry: 24/East Village 12th St./Jewelry Design

Monthly Rent: $1500

Utilities: $160

Apartment Description: A large studio renovated and converted to 1 bedroom before we moved in, in a walk up brownstone. 1st floor, street side. Door that separates bedroom to small living space and 2 closets. 15 ft ceilings- good for storage and makes it seem bigger. 

Roommate Situation: I live with my boyfriend who works in insurance

How I Do It/Money Saving Tips: Well we got lucky, being friends with the owner of our building and we spilt the rent of course which is the BIGGEST help imaginable. We grocery shop at Trader Joes and cook more nights then going out to eat. Splitting everything makes it way more managable. 

The Murray Hill Studio

Age/Location/Occupation or Industry: 25/Murray hill 39th St./fashion

Monthly Rent $2350

Utilities: $150- $250

Apartment Description: A studio in a luxury high-rise building. It's a nice building with a 24/7 doorman, concierge and elevator, plus other great amenities like a full gym, huge pool and hot tub. The actual apartment is an L-shaped studio which makes the "bedroom" area feel separate from the living space - also, the kitchen is closed off from the rest of the apartment.

Roommate Situation: 1 Roommate ( boyfriend)

How I Do It/Money Saving Tips: My utilities are cable & internet & Electric. My bill tends to be very high during the summertime because I have the air blasting at all times (which is probably not necessary come to think of it, especially when I am not home). Electricity can be up to $250 a month. Our cable is also very high and Time Warner is probably the worst cable provider I have ever experienced. Unfortunately this is the only company my apartment allows! So, go with Verizon if you can & keep your air off when you're not home!

The Upper West Side Studio

Age/Location/Occupation or Industry: 25/Upper West 70s/Finance

Monthly Rent: $1550

Utilities: $110

Apartment Description: A studio in an old brownstone from the 1800s. It’s a walk-up on the second floor with no doorbell/intercom. While it’s only a miniscule 175 square feet, which probably sounds insane, the extra-high ceilings and bay window makes the place feel much more spacious. The bay window alone is 24 square feet which makes it feel like its own little nook. I have a fully functioning kitchen and bathroom - all older appliances, but they work. Getting creative with how you set your space up is so key. 

Roommate Situation: No roommates!

How I Do It/Money Saving Tips: My only utilities are cable & internet. Most NYC buildings cover water, sewage and heating. Luckily, mine covers electricity as well, as long as I don’t have an A.C. unit - which I don’t. Luckily, we’ve had a mild summer. Additionally, I always keep beer, wine and some sort of cocktail ingredients on hand. Having a friend or two over for weeknight drinks is a LOT more reasonable than going out for drinks 3-4 times a week.

 

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How I moved in Manhattan for $250

(Scroll to bottom for move details/pricing)

Let’s get one thing straight, here. If you have friends and you want to keep them, you will absolutely not ask them to help you move within the city. It is a completely irrational request and reserved strictly for those moving into the city for the very first time.

No one wants to spend one of their precious weekend days lugging someone else’s stupid 50-pound coffee table halfway across Manhattan.

No, not even if it’s from Crate & Barrel – I promise you.

And so, enter the delightfully vague world of movers. I could pretend as if I did a whole bunch of research that led me to a making an educated decision on which mover to choose, but truth be told, I just went with some sketchy Chinatown moving company run by a guy and his cell-phone that a coworker recommended. 

This is what showed up.

Every now and then, I take a walk on the wild side.

But the risk turned out to be not so much of a risk at all. After a quick Google search, I learned that the company, Sanho, even had Yelp page.

Ipso Facto, they’re legit.

And, they turned out to be legit. Well, for the most part. They were 2 hours late and while the movers were very sweet and swift (the entire process took 2.5 hours once it actually started), the driver was kind of a d-bag.

All-in-all, it was a tad bit G-hetto.

I also think it was illegal that they transported me across Manhattan in the front seat between them, sans a seatbelt, but let’s not get our feathers ruffled over spilt milk. Or whatever.

BUT FIRST...

BUT FIRST...

Point is: New York is a massive place with more resources and options than you could ever compare. Sometimes going for the lesser-known name or off of a recommendation from a trusted friend is the best option out there.

But in case you were reading this in hopes of more beneficial information (and, honestly, whose fault is that?), I’ve listed some more insightful resources below:

How to choose your company:

http://www.timeout.com/newyork/style-design/best-nyc-moving-companies

To Review the company you choose:

 http://www.mymovingreviews.com/move/new-york-city-moving-guide

How to negotiate pricing: http://brickunderground.com/blog/2012/10/negotiating_your_way_to_a_better_price_for_moving

Full Disclosure: I ended up paying $250 all-inclusive (even tip!) to move from Murray Hill to the Upper West Side (30 blocks up & a miserable 9 avenues over). The move was from a door man building with an elevator to a walk-up in a brownstone and included a bed & frame, 6 boxes, an ottoman, 2 small dressers, a bedside table, a light lamp and a suitcase.