Average NYC Rents are at an All Time High... But is it Still Better than Buying?

Published on Aug 13, 2013

New Apartment Building in the East Village
New Apartment Building in the East Village
A milestone was passed in the second quarter of this year, but it's not a happy one for New York City rental apartment seekers: the average rent in this great, glorious city of ours surpassed the $3,000-a-month mark. Yup, a month. In fact, it's $3,017, if you want to be precise. Don't be dismayed if that sounds like a lot of money (or an impossible amount of money); this doesn't mean you should give up and move to wherever it is that makes the NATIONAL average rental apartment just $1,062. Remember, $3,017 is the average, not the median, which means that: 1. it's the booming ultra-luxury rental market in a few communities that's driving the spike, and 2. there are still always great apartments, in great NYC neighborhoods, available at any given moment, and right here on Urban Edge. NYC Apartment Buildings are Bathed in the Setting Sun
NYC Apartment Buildings are Bathed in the Setting Sun
And if you think that high-priced rentals automatically means buying an apartment is the smart move, well... think again. Because not only are sale prices rising just as fast in the condo market--every day, it seems, a new sales record is broken in Brooklyn--but two recent articles in the New York Times indicate that some long-held benefits of home ownership may, in fact, not be true at all. For example, says the Times, a "growing body of research" suggests that saving your money to buy an apartment at the expense of pleasurable daily/weekly/yearly experiences like eating out or going on vacation can be detrimental to your overall happiness, even after you've achieved your goal. Basically, experiences tend to make people happier than not material goods, and that includes an apartment. Rare Garden Space for a NYC Apartment
Rare Garden Space for a NYC Apartment
Another thing: for most of the 20th Century and up through to today, buying your own home has been seen as an integral part of the American Dream, a worthy endeavor that was as good for the country as it was for the individual. As Robert Schiller puts it in his Times op-ed piece on the subject: "Homeownership was thought to encourage planning, discipline, permanency and community spirit." Of course, that was before the subprime mortgage crisis of the late aughts threatened to topple the entire US economy, causing at least some academics and policy-makers to question whether it's in the nation's interest to subsidize mortgages at all. Is renting the new American Way? Stay tuned.
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