Apartments for Cheap

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Your Questions About Cheap Apartments For Rent In New York

June 14, 2013

Sandy asks…

How expensive is it to really live in New York? How hard is it to make a living there?

I have I crazy dream to live in New York city one day. It seems so exciting compared to my boring small city. I’m a total optimizer… and the best of everything is in New York.

How expensive is it to really live there? Is it hard to find a job that pays enough to live there? Is it an okay place to live when you’re in your 20′s?

Administrator answers:

It is pretty expensive to live here compared to most of the country–particularly apartment rental. I live in Queens and pay more than $1300 in rent for a junior 4 (meaning one big bedroom and one small one) with a parking spot, and that is a steal. I have friends who pay way more than that for a studio apartment in Manhattan. (Everything tends to be more expensive in the city than in the outer boroughs.) That’s why so many people opt to have roommates to share the expenses.

There are deals to be had–cheap places to eat, free or cheap entertainment, inexpensive clothing–if you just know where to look. As for the job, it kind of depends what industry you’re going into. Entry-level pay in most places will have you living paycheck to paycheck at first (unless you’re a lawyer or something). So those first years will probably be pretty lean and you’ll have to watch your budget. And a lot of my friends and I do something on the side to bring in a little extra money. (I do some freelance proofreading, for example.) The economic turn has affected NY just as much as the rest of the country, but the job outlook has improved recently. Best thing to do is do your homework and see if your skills and degrees match up with well-paying jobs that are available here. It’s best to land a job before you move here so you don’t find yourself frantically searching for work in time to pay your bills. While there are more job opportunities, there is also more competition for those jobs.

Also, save as much as you possibly can. You’ll need money for first and last month’s rent, possibly a broker’s fee, furniture, etc., and it’s good to have a cushion in case unexpected expenses arise.

Yes, you’d love living here in your 20′s. There’s so much to do here–bars, restaurants, Broadway shows, comedy clubs, museums, concerts, the list is endless. Many of my friends who moved here from other states love it for a few years, but end up moving back to their home state once they tire of the hectic pace, expense, and overcrowding. But some come to feel like they can’t live anywhere else but NYC, that they were meant to be here. Even if you don’t end up staying, I don’t think you’d ever regret having done it at least once in your life.

Ruth asks…

Where is a safe cheap place for a single guy to live near Washington DC?

I am looking for a place to stay in the DC area that will be cheap and also safe. I am preferably looking to live by myself and not have a roommate. I will need to be in the CNN building at around 6 am every day so the shorter the commute from there the better, but as I said price is a concern. The CNN building is located about half a mile NW of Union Station. I do have a car but don’t want to drive in everyday if I don’t have to.

Administrator answers:

Union Station is not a half-mile from CNN. It’s only about four blocks.

There is no such thing as “cheap” near DC. I work at the Pentagon. I rent a bedroom and bath in a private home, also occupied by the owner and his son. It’s about two miles from my job in Arlington County, and the rent is $850 per month. I love it, but it’s only my work home, as my actual home is out of state.

Most apartment complexes near here will run $1000-1500 minimum for a studio. If you find a studio or 1BR *below* $1000 per month, it’s either way out or a dump. If it’s anywhere near town, on either side of the city, and it’s not a share, it’s probably a rat hole.

You can get cheaper, especially if it’s a share, the further out you go, but there there’s the issue of the commute. And I can tell you this: I grew up in New York, near the Long Island Expressway, which has terrible rush hour traffic. The traffic in DC is worse, probably the worst I’ve ever seen anywhere. I-395, which cuts through the Northern Virginia region and goes directly into the city, is a parking lot in each direction during rush hour, and the Beltway and other roads aren’t any better. You really, REALLY don’t want to drive in and out of DC.

You can do it if you live way out and don’t mind an early commute (like leaving at 4:30-5:00 AM). I know people who live in the far-flung towns and counties and leave at the crack of dawn every day. But here at the Pentagon, you can get a parking permit for no charge. You can’t park anywhere in the city without paying for it.

The other option is the Metro. I take the bus daily (I brought my truck home at Christmas and left it there, I simply don’t need it). There are trains that service the suburbs to a certain distance. The city buses cover more area, and there are regional commuter buses and some rails (VRE in Virginia, MARC in Maryland) that bring you right into Union Station. Any nice neighborhood near the Metro are going to be more expensive to rent, as you might expect.

You do have some options. I would look at Craigslist for rentals. Also Google “northern virginia apartments” for some complexes. I would check any you look at out on apartmentratings.com to see what tenants have to say. Just to give you an example, there are two really nice complexes near me, the Halstead and the Penrose Square. Near shopping, buses lines to the Metro trains or into the city, lost of restaurants, lots of amenities, etc. A studio in either one probably goes for $1500-1600 per month.

You can also look on the Maryland side of the city (College Park, near the University of Maryland, also Bethesda, Rockville, Silver Springs, Chevy Chase, all along a train line). I’m not that familiar with that area.

Make sure you look at these sites for commuting:

http://www.wmata.com (The DC Metro system)
http://mta.maryland.gov/ (Maryland MTA)

There are links at these sites to other commuting options.

I’m not trying to discourage your choice in any way. I just want to be honest with you about the situation here. This is my place of work, and there is nothing I look forward to more than getting on a plane on Friday and flying my butt to Florida and my home. ;-)

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