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Real Estate Comparison: What Can You Buy in New York City?

I’ve lived in New York City for ten years- that’s right, it’s official. Having earned my true New Yorker “badge” my mantra to everyone, from skeptics to new transplants, has become, “New York is as expensive as you want it to be.” The caveat… you have to be willing to make certain lifestyle trade offs.

One of those trade offs is home ownership. That’s right, if your “American Dream” consists of that seemingly most basic, independent right of passage, (and you’re not a high earner), do yourself a favor and look to fulfill the dream of home ownership elsewhere. Unless you’re operating with big bucks or savvy investing skills, Manhattan in 2014 is one place where renting often makes more sense. (I know you non-Manhattanites are shaking your heads at me, but consider this; I pay significantly less in rent each month than home apartment owners do on maintenance charges alone.)

What Can You Buy In New York City vs. …..

I’ve teamed up with some fellow bloggers to share exactly how much house you can expect to get at varying price points in each of our cities. While I look forward to seeing the numbers revealed in their research, I have a point of comparison of my own I’d like to share.

Last month I visited San Antonio, Texas with my boyfriend for a family reunion of sorts. Amid the festivities and catching up, the possibility of purchasing the former home of his great grandparents became a topic of discussion. This two-bedroom, stand-alone home, 15 minutes outside of downtown San Antonio, was available for purchase for just $60,000.

Now with that in mind, here are the New York City numbers.

*For the sake of this post (and to avoid falling down the rabbit hole of real estate research all weekend) I limited my search to Manhattan specifically. Though the outer boroughs (ehem, Brooklyn), absolutely provide some equally outrageous sticker shock. 

What Can You Buy in New York City Between $0-$250,000?

I can honestly say I didn’t expect to find any listings in this price range. I know $250,000 can buy you a substantial amount of house elsewhere, but in Manhattan, you’re lucky if it buys you more than a closet.

Suffice it to say, I was shocked when Street Easy gave me 54 listings within this price range filter. Just as I thought there might be a glimmer of possibility for my own NYC home ownership dreams, reality came crashing down…“Income restricted housing”. It kept showing up on listing after listing. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, income restricted apartments are for people who make below a certain threshold of income. In the case of one apartment it was $59,550 for a household size of one and $68,050 for a household size of two.  (While these are great options for those who fit in those income ranges, the balance between making little enough to qualify and enough to pay the mortgage is quite delicate).

I went back into my search and filtered out the income restricted listings. This time I only got 28 results.

The Cheapest: $150,000.00 @ 431 West 121st Street, #GF

Monthly maintenance: $253

Total estimated monthly payment: $957

Location is pretty sweet on this one. While the apartment is a bit further uptown than I’d like, it’s quite close to Columbia University and Central Park West. But wait for it… Basement apartment, 390 square foot studio, cash deal only. Ouch!

As if that weren’t bad enough, take a read through this listing… 

This basement apartment on Amsterdam and 121st Street is a diamond in the VERY rough. THIS IS RAW SPACE. Although currently a studio apartment, it can be made into a small one-bedroom apartment (with board approval). Currently, there are only hookups for the kitchen; no kitchen exists at this time. With nearly nine-foot ceilings, this little space can be made into an amazing home for a student, a first-time homebuyer, or for a pied-a-terre buyer. Maintenance is only $253.01 plus an ongoing assessment of $125/month.

In addition to all of that awfulness, they don’t even show pictures on the website. So basically, all $150,000 is gonna buy you in Manhattan is a whole lot of shadiness in some basement somewhere. No thank you.

$250,000 @ 457 West 57th St, #508

            Monthly maintenance: $721

Estimated monthly payment: $1,764

Again, location is looking pretty sweet here, right in the Hell’s Kitchen/ Upper West Side area, a short walk from Columbus Circle and Central Park. But what’s that outside the window? A brick wall. And up against the wall? A Murphy bed. Yep, it’s a studio sized 16×10 (not including the kitchen and closet, total square footage is noticeably absent from the listing).

What Can You Buy In New York City for $250,000?

I need to get out of this price range…

What Can You Buy in New York City for $500,000? 

620 listings. Okay, not bad, let’s take a closer look…

$500,000 @ 124 Thompson Street, #19

            Monthly maintenance: $1,070

Estimated monthly payment: $3,157. 

Great location in the heart of SoHo, but as we’ve seen with these prime locales, the apartments generally leave a little something to be desired- in this case we’re talking 1bed, 1 bath, and 522 square feet.

While there are, once again, no pictures to accompany this listing, this 62-word description is worth a thousand.

Opportunity knocks. Back on the market. New price, no offers below asking will be considered. SOLD AS IS. There is no working bathroom or kitchen and the apartment is in WRECK condition, located in the 5th floor of a non-elevator building. Sublet Policy: not in 1st 3 yrs of ownership; then for only 2 yrs out of 5 if approved after application. 

What Can You Buy in New York City for $750,000?

$750,000 @ 245 East 72nd Street #2B

            Monthly maintenance: $1,412

Estimated monthly payment: $4,52 

Good news! For just three quarters of a million dollars you can actually purchase some place remotely livable in NYC! Sure it might only be a one bedroom, but at least you’ll have an updated kitchen and a building with a doorman, elevator, and laundry (that’s A LOT of amenities by New York City standards- hence the major monthly maintenance fees).

What Can You Buy in New York City for $750,000?

Totally doable living space.  Price point?  Not so much.

What Can You Buy in New York City for $1 Million?

Even going up to the million-dollar mark, you can’t seem to get more than a one bedroom in Manhattan (mega millionaires only I guess).

$1,000,000 @ 635 w 42nd, #12F

            Monthly maintenance: $1,1000

Estimated monthly payment: $5,795

While this apartment seems to have a central address, it’s actually located all the way over by the west side highway, which means it’s a bit of a hike to the nearest subway line at 8th avenue (though if you live in a million dollar home, maybe you’re not too concerned about the subway). The building looks beautiful, modern, and full of amenities- including a shuttle to get across town (even they know they’re out of the way). Still only one bedroom though and just 800 square feet, but it does look pretty…

What Can You Buy in New York City for $1 Million?

What Can You Buy in OTHER Cities?

Check out the posts of my fellow bloggers to see how much home you can get for your buck in other cities…





How much home can you buy in YOUR city?


Can I Afford to Live in New York City?

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