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Nearly half of New Yorkers think the city is unaffordable

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Renters are more likely to view the city as too pricey

StreetEasy has revealed its latest housing trends report, this one examining the idea of affordability and what it means to those that call New York City home. Partnering with independent market research firm YouGov, the listings website surveyed 1,000 New Yorkers across all five boroughs to gain some insight about what they cared most about in a home.

Some of their findings probably won’t surprise you—surprise, people think New York City is expensive!—but there were several interesting findings on what compels people to rent or purchase a particular home in a particular neighborhood.

The idea of affordability varied drastically among various generations of New Yorkers. For millennials, only 34 percent found the city to be unaffordable while 19 and 10 percent determined that their neighborhoods and their homes, respectively, were unaffordable. Baby boomers, on the other hand, found the city to be highly expensive, with 61 percent saying living here is unaffordable.

When it comes to millennials, more than a third of those surveyed said they plan to purchase a home in the city within the next year, compared to just 11 percent of Gen-Xers. But millennials were also the most likely to exceed their budget for housing—45 percent opted for a more expensive home than they budgeted for, compared to 30 percent of Gen Xers and 19 percent of baby boomers. Across the city, one in three people “exceeded their initial budget when purchasing or renting their current residence,” according to the report.


“A significant gap exists between rents advertised on the market through StreetEasy and the rents reported in the U.S. Census’ most recent American Community Survey,” says StreetEasy. In 2016, the median asking rent for a Manhattan apartment on their site was $3,193, but the U.S. Census reports the median asking rent for Manhattan households as just $1,488.

According to StreetEasy, this suggests that “New Yorkers go to unique lengths to afford life in the city”—living with roommates, living in very small apartments, and the like. “Most New Yorkers — 72 percent — have spouses, partners, or roommates with whom they share the burden of rent, compared to 66 percent nationally,” per the report.

Yet despite the city’s high cost of living, StreetEasy found that 57 percent of New Yorkers would recommending living here. This was especially true for millennials and homeowners, who cited perks like access to public transportation, restaurants, entertainment, and other conveniences.

Still, residents in Queens, where rents and home prices are typically more affordable than those of Manhattan and Brooklyn, were the most likely to find the city and their homes to be unaffordable.


As for what drives people to choose a particular neighborhood, safety and access to public transit are biggest factors in those decisions; more than half of those surveyed, however, said that luxury amenities like a doorman or a gym do not factor into their decision when looking for a home.

Check out the full report here for more insight on affordability, housing cost, and moving trends in New York City.