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Looking for a Roommate? See Where Shared Apartment Rents Are Rising Fastest

By Amy Zimmer | February 1, 2017 3:32pm

Many New Yorkers can only afford to live here if they have roommates, and now many renters looking to share the cost of rent are increasingly choosing boroughs other than Manhattan, a new analysis tracking room rental hotspots found.

Queens is seeing an uptick in apartment sharing — along with an increase in the cost of renting a room, according to the first ever New York Quarterly Rental Index, from SpareRoom, a roommate-finding service that started in the UK.

The average monthly rent for a room in Queens hit $976, jumping 5 percent from the fourth quarter of last year to this year’s fourth quarter and making it the top borough for price growth, the report found.

In The Bronx, the average monthly rent was $822 for the fourth quarter, representing a 4 percent jump over the year before.

Manhattan rents for rooms shares continued to be the most expensive — with average monthly rents at $1,535 — but prices stagnated over the past year, rising a mere 1 percent.  

heat map

Credit: SpareRoom

Brooklyn, where the average rent was $1,087 a month, prices also edged up just 1 percent from the same time the year before.

Staten Island, which had the lowest room rental prices, at $736 a month, saw a 4 percent decline over the past year, the report found.

“Manhattan rents are finally starting to cool,” SpareRoom director Matt Hutchinson said, “which is good news on the face of it. But with average room rent in excess of $1,500 a month, affordability is still a huge concern. One in three New Yorkers now spends over half their salary on rent. Just by moving to Queens the average roommate would save $559 a month, that’s almost $7,000 a year.”

But the increased popularity of Queens could pose problems for renters as gentrification spreads, he said.

“With people looking further afield, prices are being driven up dramatically in previously less popular neighborhoods,” he said, “which will lead to further gentrification, with the risk that current long-term residents become priced out.”

Of the top 20 most expensive neighborhoods, 17 were in Manhattan, while two were in Queens. (Flushing came in at No. 5 and Long Island City was in the No. 11 spot.)  Williamsburg ranked 19.

Although Brooklyn didn’t see significant price growth last year, the borough remained the most popular choice for roommate rentals, with seven of the top 10 busiest areas when it came to the number of advertisements for rooms, the report found.

The Bedford-Stuyvesant/Bushwick ZIP code of 11221 topped the city’s list with roughly 440 rooms listed in the fourth quarter.

That was followed by the 10009 ZIP code for the East Village and Stuyvesant Town, the 11206 ZIP code for Bed-Stuy/Bushwick/Williamsburg, and the 11211 ZIP code for Greenpoint/Williamsburg.


Credit: SpareRoom

The city’s most expensive neighborhood for roommates was Battery Park City, with an average monthly rent of $2,100 for a room.

This tony neighborhood also saw the highest increase in average room rents over the past year, spiking 20 percent.

That increase was dramatic compared to price changes in the area for one-bedroom units, which decreased by 10 percent, according to a recent report from Zumper.

The discrepancy between the decline in apartment prices versus the jump in room rental prices indicates that people in the area were increasingly looking to share their apartments to keep rents down while the demand for one-bedrooms in Battery Park City dropped, Hutchinson believes.

“As we continue to monitor average rents and popularity to spot trends in NYC’s ever moving rental landscape,” Hutchinson said, “the data shows how attitudes to certain neighborhoods are changing and the impact that rent increases are having on the city.”