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:

25/Model/Actress

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.

Date Night Spotlight: City Winery

Best For: Bringing Your Parents Out OR Double-Date

INSIDER'S TIP: All seats are pretty good, but request ones that are centered so you have a good view of the stage. Also, this is a great spot to get a bottle of wine for the table - an affordable and satisfying selection.

Will Set You Back: $60-80 PP taking into account the ticket/seat (depending on where you sit) + 2 drinks/shared bottle and an appetizer.

Atmosphere: Intimate and casual. Guests are requested not to speak loudly while the musician is on stage and there is some "shushing" that goes on in between songs and during quieter ones. The decor is extremely pleasing to the eyes, however, and waitstaff is very friendly.

Twas’ an early Monday evening as I climbed tirelessly on the stepper at the New York Health and Racquet Club. While the daytime had held clear blue skies and a relatively easy start to the week, I was still feeling remnants of the Monday blues wearing me down.

That is, until I received a text from my boyfriend stating the following: “Me and my parents are about to head over to City Winery for Kenny Loggins. Extra seat. Want to join us?” The opportunity could not have come at a better time.

In accordance with their website, "City Winery strives to deliver the highest-end combined culinary and cultural experience to our customers who are passionate in sharing wine, music, and culinary arts." It is a full winery, an intimate concert venue, and a gorgeous space complete with fine dining.

I raced home, threw on my go-to LBD and caught the 1 train downtown to Houston St. Since I had never been to City Winery before, it felt particularly special upon entrance. The exterior provides a welcoming feel on an otherwise empty block. Al fresco dining, sprawling greens and bright pops of burgundy line the large wooden doors that invite you in. The staff continues the theme of cozy service inside, greeting patrons at the door and seamlessly placing delectable cheese dishes on the table while quietly filling glasses of champagne throughout sets.

Of course, the atmosphere, service and surrounding company were not the only wonderful aspects of the evening. Kenny Loggins brought down the house with reverberations of classic tunes and little gifts in the form of new music alongside Blue Sky Riders partners Georgia Middleman and Gary Burr. In between songs, the audience was treated to personal anecdotes and background into when and how various songs were conceived. The whole evening truly was a treat.

After enjoying a show at City Winery, I am thrilled to have a new regular spot for enjoying live music. I mean, how often do you have the chance to see such raw, classic talent in such an intimate and friendly setting? While I love getting up and jamming out as much as the next rocker, I also loved having a designated seat, perfect view, and tableside service to go along with the music. What can I say? I’m spoiled.

The atmosphere at City Winery is simply unparalleled and the lineups are more-than-reliable. With tickets starting as low at $25 for barstool seating at certain shows and often coming in as low as $45 for table seating, City winery is a win-win situation. Not to mention, the food is on-point to an artisanal level and actually affordable. While I was lucky to be treated on this fine occasion, I still scoped out the menu to get the inside scoop on pricing.

The Verdict?

In exchange for that $22 plastic cup of house cabernet you’ll receive in the Delta Sky Lounge at an MSG concert, you can get two glasses of high-quality, sommelier-selected wine at CW. Not to mention, a selection of appetizers and flatbreads are available for under $15. Oh, and in case you needed one more reason to get down to City Winery, Tuesday nights have been declared “free music night” for the rest of summer. I mean, seriously: food, wine, friends and music. Does it get any better?

All in all, City Winery was more-than-well-worth-it for experience…. even if I did take an elbow to the head during the encore rendition of “Footloose.”

I mean, girl's gotta dance.

Perfect For: Bring-Your-Parents-To-Town-Night, Date Night, Friends Night

Price Level: A seat, two drinks and some food will cost you about 5 days worth of groceries. But it's okay - this is what ramen was made for. (No, not the momofuku variety.)

Is NYC Restaurant Week Worth it? Top 10 Picks for 20-somethings

As a 20-something living in Manhattan, I must admit: Restaurant Week is a little confusing. On the one hand, NYC is a foodie’s paradise and Restaurant Week – or, month, rather – is wonderful in that it takes some of the city’s finest culinary jewels and places them within reach of our own, otherwise-poor palates. On the other hand, though, it’s still an expense. For instance, I’ve only been out to lunch a handful of times during my 3 years in the city and not once have I spent $25 on it (Note: Restaurant Week’s 3-course Lunch is set at $25 while the 3-course dinner seating is $38).

Of course, my own experience isn’t reason to invalidate another’s. However, I think it’s safe to say that most New Yorkers between the ages of 20 and 30 would prefer to shell out $38 for a nice dinner with friends, rather than pay $25 for a lunch they never would have gone out for to begin with. Going out for dinner is simply more of a full  experience and – let’s also not forget – most of us have jobs Monday through Friday that act as a sort of obstacle in the way of enjoying that fine-dining luncheon, anyway.

So, while both Zagat and CBS have crafted their own recommendations, I wanted to create a separate list with recommendations catered specifically to the 20-something looking for that little bit extra bang-for-your-buck during restaurant week.

The Top-10 Restaurant Week Picks for 20-somethings is based off of the following criteria:

1)     The Restaurant Must Serve Dinner (3 courses - $38)

This knocked out a slew of favorites from other lists. It’s wonderful that Nobu is participating in restaurant week, but with only the lunch option available, it gets a swift kick off the list by little bro Nobu Next Door that does serve dinner.

2)     The Cuisine Must Be “Worth it”*

 French, Steak/Seafood, Upscale American New/Classic, Japanese

*Allow me to explain the exclusivity. I grew up in a part-Chinese household and spent a summer in China eating the most delectable, hand-crafted dim sum and $1 noodles you’ve ever tasted. So, while I am sure Midtown’s Hakkasan is delicious, it’s difficult for me to justify spending too much money on basic, over-priced ingredients for a cuisine that is meant to be enjoyed family-style on the cheap. Same goes for Mexican fare and soul food. Don’t get me wrong, here. I understand that fusion restaurants are all the rage and that the quality and innovative nature of these cuisines is absolutely growing. However, to me, the beauty of these foods lies in their historic comfort, simplicity and casual enjoyment while the beauty of restaurant week is to enjoy something a little more special.

For this reason, other restaurants, we had to chop you.

3)     The Ratings & Atmosphere Must Be Just Right

All 10 restaurants on the list have something unique about them. Whether the perfect setting for a corporate celebration or a romantic speakeasy from the 1920s, each restaurant encapsulates a uniquely New York atmosphere and has been tried and tested by the pros. While anything over a 20 on Zagat is a solid score, I aimed strictly for 23+ food ratings and then personally took pulse on the ambiance.

 Top 10 Restaurant Week Recommendations for 20-somethings

Bar Boulud – French – 24 Zagat – Upper West Side – Sophisticated Casual

Lure Fishbar – Seafood – 23 Zagat – SoHo – Classic/Nautical

Le Cirque – French – 25 Zagat – Midtown - Posh

21 Club – Classic American – 23 Zagat – Midtown – Historic Speakeasy

Nobu Next Door – Japanese Peruvian – 27 Zagat – Tribeca - Iconic

Perry Street,– New American – 26 Zagat – West Village – Chic/Modern

Po –New American 25 Zagat – West Village – Charming/Cozy Romantic

The Sea Grill – Seafood -23 Zagat– Rock Center – Special Occasion

Perilla – New American – 26 Zagat – West Village – Polished/Intimate

The Capital Grille – Steakhouse – 24 Zagat – Multiple Locations – Corporate/Celebratory

Bonus Recs:

Butter – Seafood/Steak American – Not Yet Rated – Midtown – Stylish/Romantic

Fig & Olive – Mediterranean – 21 Zagat – Multiple Locations – Chic/Trendy