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In What NYC Neighborhoods Does It Pay To Have Roommates?

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After a week packed with rental news, it's no shocker that renting in New York City is crazy expensive (and not getting any easier to boot). Any attempt to defray the cost of living—even the most extreme measures—is understandable, even covetable. But how much do you really save by getting a roommate? Start-up Splitwise, an app that helps you divide complicated tabs or expenses among several housemates or friends, tried to quantify that for us. And their answers? They may surprise you.

Consider the map above. In the red and orange areas, like midtown and downtown Manhattan, plus Greenpoint and Williamsburg, you won't save that much by joining forces with two other roommates in a 3BR. In the blue and green areas, you stay below the threshold of $1,000 per month. Try this maxim on for size: Manhattan is for lovers, while Brooklyn is for roommates.

The map above and the ones below, plus the detailed charts at the end of this post, are the result of a comprehensive analysis by the creators of the Splitwise app. They reveal how much rent you actually pay per bedroom, on average, in each of New York City's neighborhoods. There are different maps for each type of apartment—studio, shared one-bedroom, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom—so that the neighborhoods where one type of living setup is preferable, or a bigger money-saver, more easily stand out.

For example, on the Upper West Side, getting a roommate barely saves you any money—only $400 per bedroom per year, on average. On the Upper East Side, getting two roommates actually saves you less money than getting only one. But in Brooklyn, adding a roommate or two could save you between $5,000 and $10,000 a year. Yes, even with market trends the way they are, you can save money in most of Brooklyn—it's just hard to get a bedroom for less than $1,000/month in the popular gentrified neighborhoods. As opposed to the Upper West and Upper East, where not even roommates can save you.

Why is this a big deal? Well, few other outlets formally consider roommate scenarios when it comes to crunching the rental data, but given how ubiquitous these living arrangements are in the city—New York magazine did a whole package about the topic earlier this year—we felt it was high time rent savings were scrutinized in light of the number of bedrooms in the unit and the average rent in a given neighborhood. So onto the maps we go.

▼ When it comes to living solo in a one-bedroom, it's hard to win. But the outskirts of the city are where the costs are lower.

▼ But if you're in a couple, or sharing a one-bedroom in some other way unbeknownst to us, then parts of Manhattan and western Brooklyn actually aren't such bad deals.

▼ Unsurprisingly, studios are rough in the central parts of the city, too, but consider that the red zones don't extend as far out as with one-bedrooms, meaning that studios are (sorta obviously) a better deal in many neighborhoods if you want to live alone and can stomach microdwellings.

▼ With two-bedrooms, breathe a sigh of relief as the number of red zones shrinks. But still, in those areas, you may be saving less than you think by having a roommate.

All the data Splitwise gathered is laid out below in chart form, sorted first by borough and then by neighborhood, including the average rent per bedroom per month for different kids of units in the central part of the graphic and, to the right side, how much different roommate configurations could save you in a year.


Not enough numbers for you? You can check it out the average rent in your area of residence, down to the level of your zip code, using Splitwise's nifty online tool.

Data was provided by RentMetrics, and neighborhood boundaries were created from the US Census 2010 (warning: PDF!) and the NYS Department Of Health.
· Splitwise [official]
· How To Calculate Your Average Rent [Splitwise]
· Cool Map Thing archive [Curbed]
· All Renters Week 2013 coverage [Curbed]