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New York City’s decade of skyrocketing rents

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As the decade comes to a close, the rent in NYC is still too damn high

Max Touhey |

It’s been a roller coaster of a decade for New York City renters. At the beginning of the decade, the city was coming out of a period when rents had significantly dipped thanks to the 2008 recession. But by the end of 2019, rents had skyrocketed, with back-to-back months where prices hit record highs. (The median rental price is now around $3,600/month, according to Douglas Elliman’s latest rental report.)

But where did the biggest changes happen? We asked StreetEasy to crunch the numbers to show how—and where—rents have changed from 2010 to 2019. The listings company’s economists compared the median asking rent in 2010 versus 2019 in Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens, as well as within each borough, and found some interesting—but not exactly surprising—results. (Staten Island was not included in the analysis; StreetEasy didn’t have enough rental data from the borough in 2010 that could paint an accurate picture of median asking rent cumulative over the decade.)

The takeaway: The outer boroughs saw the biggest spikes—both on a broad scale, and when you dig into the neighborhood-specific changes.

The borough where rents spiked the most is Queens; there, the median price went up by a whopping 30 percent—from $1,700/month in 2010 to $2,217/month in 2019. And the single neighborhood where rents increased the most is Corona: In 2010, the median asking rent was $1,150/month; now, it’s $2,060/month, a change of 79 percent.

According to StreetEasy economist Nancy Wu, neighborhoods like Corona, Long Island City (where rents have gone up significantly in the past year alone), and Astoria are responsible for much of the change in Queens. But different factors have pushed prices higher: Long Island City, has seen an influx of new developments, but Corona’s significant increase to the neighborhood’s affordability compared to other areas in the city, and easy access to the 7 train.

The Bronx came in second place after Queens, with the median asking rent in that borough going up by 19 percent; it was $1,575/month in 2010 versus $1,875/month in 2019. Similarly to Long Island City, a wave of new, higher-priced developments have popped up throughout the borough in recent years, including completed luxury towers like Bridgeline and The Crescendo in Mott Haven. The New York Times reported last year that from 2010 to 2015, about 13 percent of all the city’s approved residential units were in the Bronx.

“Bronx has a lot of new construction in areas like Riverdale, Concourse, Mott Haven, and Highbridge and they’ve all seen rents go up a lot,” Wu says.

Manhattan and Brooklyn are tied, as rents increased by 18 percent in both boroughs over the last decade. In Manhattan, they went from $2,795/month to $3,300/month; in Brooklyn, the change was from $2,200/month to $2,595/month. Brooklyn is also home to four of the five neighborhoods with the biggest price increases over the past decade: Bushwick, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush, and Bed-Stuy.

“[In Prospect Lefferts Gardens] an influx of new development has brought more residential options to the area, and the commute to Manhattan is easy,” Wu says. “Bushwick has undergone quite a transformation in the last decade, with the construction of many new, amenity-laden buildings. Demand continues to grow, thus driving up prices, as renters become more willing to ride the L train a few additional stops to find more affordable options than what’s available in Williamsburg.”

In Brooklyn, several new, large-scale developments and megaprojects, such as the Domino megaproject and Pacific Park (formerly known as Atlantic Yards), may have contributed to the hike in rents while pushing renters further into the borough—and thus pushing prices higher in areas like Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy.

So what can NYC renters expect in the next decade? Wu says that prices may spike in neighborhoods along the 7 line, as tech companies like Amazon and Facebook flock to the Hudson Yards megaproject and offices in the surrounding area. The same goes for parts of Brooklyn where new office spaces have recently debuted, such as the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Downtown Brooklyn.

In the next ten years, Wu speculates, the borough that may see a significant increase in rents is the Bronx. “The Bronx might have a big increase in the upcoming decade,” We says. “The boroughs that were the slowest growing in the past tend to grow fast over time.” According to StreetEasy, while rents in the borough did significantly increase during the last decade, the next 10 years could bring an even larger increase as new developments (including megaprojects like Brookfield’s Bankside and L&M Development’s Bronx Point) continue to come online. Stay tuned.