Welcome to the Upper West Side, where orthodox Jews, frat boys, and trendy young families all meet in order to live between two massive parks within lox-whiffing distance of Zabar's. What makes such a diverse population all pine for the same neighborhood? Read on.
Rental units: Since most of the area is a historic district (a preservation lover's delight and a developer's pain in the neck), get ready for a lot of prewars, including townhouses both single- and multi-family, with converted or renovated units renting for more and the older, grodier ones renting for less. The avenues have plenty of taller towers. But because the housing stock skews older, units often boast exposed brick. Or a fireplace. (Or both.)
Rent range: Yeah, it's wide. The Citi Habitats market report for the third quarter places the average rent for a UWS studio at $1,975/month, for a 1BR at $2,792/month, for a 2BR at $4,361/month, and for a 3BR at $6,114/month. The least expensive UWS studio currently listed on StreetEasy is asking $1,450/month (and its on 106th Street, at the northernmost edge of the area to boot); the neighborhood's most expensive unit is a Central Park West townhouse with a pool that wants $75,000/month. (It's also for sale for $34 million, but no one has bit yet.)
Neighborhood highlights: Museums, sure. But for awhile many complained that the Upper West was a wasteland for restaurants and bars. With the opening of some new outlets, though, that has largely changed, meaning options beyond Gin Mill and Ollies. Be warned: popular brunch restaurants have epically long lines, and you'll be dodging strollers and puppies if you try to jog down the street.
Pricey corners: Central Park West, West End Avenue, and Riverside Drive tend to have the big historic prewars with expensive apartments. Similarly, glassy new high rise towers (like the Larstrand) don't come cheap. Those Dakotas and Majestics set the bar pretty high, as do historic full-block rentals like the Apthorp and the Belnord, which were affordableif you started renting there in the 1970s.
Not-so-pricey corners: Stick to side streets and target your search to walk-ups or smaller buildings, and you'll be better off. Also, anything north of 96th Street is typically a good bet. There are exceptions, though like this 2BR/2BA penthouse with outdoor space in a postwar high-rise at Columbus Avenue and 100th Street, which is leasing for $10,000/month. Also, don't try to rent an entire townhouse near Riverside Park, even if it is owned by a socialite trying to pocket $60K/month while she's in jail.
Sample rental listings:
· 34 West 86th Street: a small studio half a block from Central Park for $1,695/month
· 424 West End Avenue: a modern, convertible three-bedroom in an elevator building
· 770 Amsterdam Avenue: a 2BR/2BA railroad apartment in a walk-up near the newish Whole Foods on 96th Street for $2,300/month
· 342 West 85th Street: a one-bedroom top-floor duplex with a sizable deck in a prewar building for $4,950