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How Much Do NYC Renters Save By Living Farther From Work?

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If he or she could, every renter would want to quantify the following trade-off: How much money do you save by living farther from the center of the city? Does it make a difference whether the reasonably priced apartment is six subway stops away from your office, or nine? Whether you move from downtown or midtown Manhattan to Brooklyn, Queens, or just uptown? We asked the number crunchers at rental listings website Zumper—they of the masterful median rent map!—to help figure it all out.

Here's the formula: first, we selected 13 city neighborhoods, identified one main subway stop in each one, and compared the cost of living in a one-bedroom in that area to the median one-bedroom rent for all of Manhattan (the closest proxy for a "normal" rent we could think of). The savings by living farther away, though, had to be weighed against a longer transit time. So we looked at the time it takes to travel from that neighborhood to the eight most popular commuter hubs in Manhattan: Wall Street, Grand Central, Times Square, etc.—and averaged those. The result is a dollar figure for each hour you spend sitting on a train or bus every month.

The darker blue a station/neighborhood is, the more you save by living there, even taking into account a slightly longer commute. The dark red color means, unfortunately, that you're paying quite a hefty premium, rent-wise, in order to live there.

Here's the upshot: Long Island City wins. Trains leaving Queensboro Plaza get you to most work commuter hubs in Manhattan quickly, and the median rent for a one-bedroom ($2,250) is much lower than that for the borough of Manhattan ($3,125). You save $90 for each hour you commute, or about $900/month if you assume that the commute is about 15 minutes long both ways, and you work an average of 20 days a month. That's quite a chunk of change.

Tribeca, on the other hand, is a bad trade-off. Sure, you can get to most neighborhoods south of Central Park under 10 minutes, but because rents are so high, you're paying extra to do so every single month. You spend $115 more for each hour you commute every month, or about $800 more every month, presuming an average time of 11 minutes per one-way ride to work.

One surprising takeaway? Living in East Harlem, Williamsburg, or downtown Brooklyn doesn't save you as much as living in the East Village, around Astor Place. See how the other neighborhoods stack up above.

To make the map even more useful, figure out how much time you spend commuting every month (in hours) and then multiply that by the cost savings (or extra spending) for the stop listed nearest you (which we realize aren't comprehensive).

We will continue to tweak the methodology and brainstorm the best ways to display this information so as to best serve readers, so please leave your thoughts or feedback in the comments below.
· Mapping the Median Rents in New York City Neighborhoods [Zumper + Curbed]
· Zumper archive [Curbed]
· All Renters Week 2013 coverage [Curbed]
—Photo via Tumblr/New York Underground