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College Graduates Face NYC Housing Costs

College Grads Housing Cost

Many college graduates, armed with their diploma in hand, will make the move to New York City to pursue jobs and start their career. One of the biggest obstacles college graduates face with their transition to New York is the expensive cost of housing.

It is certainly a tough battle to fight given the tight labor market which requires graduates moving to where the jobs are vs. jobs coming to them. Median pay for entry level jobs in the city is certainly higher than in other parts of the country, however, the increased compensation still leaves a very large gap for many between income and housing costs. According to WNYC, the median income across New York City is $50,711.


The average rent in Manhattan in April 2017 was $3,232.

The general best practice when it comes to housing costs vs. income is a ratio of 30%, or having rent that does not exceed 30% of your monthly income. Based on the recommendation, a new graduate would have to make approximately $130,000 to afford the medium rent in Manhattan. Sounds intimidating, but understanding the basics can help any new graduate navigate the complex New York real estate market and find the perfect apartment.

Whether you end up renting in a condo, co-op (in rare instances), or a rental, building, there are a few general rules of thumb that can be expected across the board:

  •  Income Requirement: The general rule in New York City is that you must make 40x the monthly rent, or 80x the monthly rent if you are using a guarantor. Rental buildings will be stricter with these rules whereas it is ultimately up to the discretion of the condo owner to accept a tenant
  • Security Deposit: Be prepared to have certified check’s for the first month’s rent, security deposit, and broker’s commission.
  • Lease Length: Most buildings will require a minimum of a 1 year lease. There are some buildings that do allow for a 6-month lease.
  • Credit: Most buildings will run a credit check. Strong credit always helps!

Given the general requirements as a new college graduate, what are the options?

  1. Use a Guarantor- Many college graduates do not earn enough to meet income requirements, and defer to a guarantor on the lease. This is usually a parent of guardian who has earning power to meet these requirements.

  2. Savings- Often times, if the income is close to the threshold, but the individual has strong credit history and a substantial savings or cash-equivalent account, the individual will be accepted

  3. Roommates – While many want to say goodbye to roommates after their college days, NYC is a place where even those in there 40s have roommates sometimes. Plain and simple, it significantly reduces monthly housing expenses.

  4. Prioritize – Decide what is important. Would you rather have a nice apartment or live in a better neighborhood than leaving an ample nightly happy hour and weekend going out budget?

  5. Use a Broker – In a market like New York, a broker will be your best asset. They have knowledge of what buildings are willing to negotiate, and can also help find buildings that are giving out incentives such as free months of rent.

We asked team member Jamie Lee who has helped many young adults transition into the city about what she recommends in the process:

“You have to be educated on the different neighborhoods of New York City.  I tell my clients to walk the streets of different areas, spend a weekend day there, and get lunch or dinner to really feel out different neighborhoods and see if they can see themselves living there. “

The Alternative

One alternative option, which is growing in popularity, is savvy parents who purchase an apartment as investment, and charge their children “rent.” Sound crazy? is not! In this scenario the parents can get the tax benefits of a mortgage while owning an asset that is likely to trend up in value over the long run. Additionally, the child is paying towards actual ownership in the asset, equity, rather than paying true rent to a landlord that is solely capitalizing off of them.

Of course, buying is a big decision, but one that we are here to walk you through. When it comes to Millennials, Jamie knows that indecisiveness can be very common. Sometimes, she tells them to rent first for a year and feel out an area before taking the plunge, or she makes sure they buy something that can easily be rented out or resold if they decide to move after living there 3 yearsGiven how challenging it can be for millennials to pay rent, imagine how hard it is for them to save for home ownership. In fact, owning a home is one of the biggest challenges Millennials face, as crippling debt and rising rent costs eat away at disposable income. We have a list of 10 creativeways to save for a down payment.

It is important for Millennials not to get discovered, and remember that there are options. Team member Kimberlee Knecht has helped many clients in the early 30s age bracket purchase their first property, and that first property is in New York City.

She points out that

“Condos are more scarce than co-ops from a market composition overall and are also more lenient, and because of this, condos can be 10-15% pricier than comparable co-ops.”

Thus, co-ops can be a great option for a first-time buyer in the city, looking to own that first piece of New York.

Of course, this is just the beginning, and The Victoria Shtainer Team has a wealth of resources and insights that can help breakdown the process, whether renting or buying. Consult our resource library, or contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss your unique apartment needs.