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New York neighborhoods where buying beats renting

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Read this before buying or renting your next home in New York

On the Lower East Side, renting may be better in the long term than buying.
Max Touhey

If you’ve been living in New York City for a while, you already know that a monthly rent payment here could easily cover a mortgage and utilities in other parts of the country. And while the thought of homeownership for New Yorkers that aren’t millionaires is not impossible, it’s far from easy.

But sometimes it does make more fiscal sense in the long term to buy a place in New York City instead of rent, assuming you have the means to do so (i.e. enough money for a down payment and closing costs, steady income, and so on). The listings website StreetEasy has created an index that it calls the “tipping point”—or “the number of years New Yorkers would have to live in a home for buying that home to become cheaper than renting it”—for 85 neighborhoods throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. (Staten Islanders already tend to lean more toward homeownership over renting.)

According to StreetEasy’s findings, the median tipping point in New York City is 5.8 years, up slightly from 2017’s median tipping point of 5.6 years. That’s quite a bit higher than the national median tipping point, which is just two years.

To no one’s surprise, Manhattan has the longest tipping point at a whopping 11.75 years, followed by Staten Island (4.58 years) and Brooklyn (4.17 years). Queens and the Bronx had the lowest tipping point at 3.5 and 2.33 years, respectively. Neighborhoods like the Upper East Side, the Lower East Side, and Midtown have the highest tipping point, at a staggering 30 years (blame all of those luxury apartments that have risen in the past few years). But not every Manhattan neighborhood has a super-high tipping point; in Inwood and Washington Heights, buying becomes more logical than renting in just under five years.

Some of the neighborhoods where buying pays off in less than two years include Canarsie, Jamaica, Morris Park, Fordham, and Flatlands.

Of course, there are other factors that would lead someone to rent over buying—lack of a down payment, preferring to move around a lot, and things like that—but if you’re on the fence about buying over renting, this is a handy tool. StreetEasy has also created a tipping point calculator that lets you play around with the numbers to assist in your decision making.