Suburban Apartments: Living Outside NYC Doesn't Always Mean a House

Published on Oct 14, 2011


For as long as I can remember, it's been like this: the city is for renting; the suburbs are for when you want to buy a house. Today, though, all that's changing, with the rise of suburban apartments.

While the city is keeping up its end of the equation--even after the condo craze of the aught years, New York City rental apartments still make up nearly 70% of all housing units--there are signs that both real estate developers and prospective tenants might be starting to view the suburbs in a different, more rental-friendly light.

To be sure, suburban apartments have existed for a long time, particularly in the low-rise garden apartment communities found in many places. These complexes frequently cater to the lower and middle classes. However, most of the activity in terms of new developments these days is in the high-end, luxury market--and the tenants by and large are people who in the past would have bought a home.

Take the New York City suburban communities of Westchester and Long Island, for example. both of which, according to a pair of recent articles in the New York Times, have never seen so much activity on and excitement within the rental market, both in existing homes and in new developments.


Westchester rental apartments are enjoying a incredible surge of interest, and not only from the traditional, more transient rental apartment customer. Arthur Collins, the president of the real estate developer Collins Enterprises, says that established families and empty-nesters are choosing Westchester rental apartments as the smart way to go in this still-uncertain economic climate.

With little confidence that the housing market has, in fact, hit bottom, and feelings of job security at a record low, many people just don't see the point in taking out a mortgage right now. Condo owners who don't want to sell at the low end of the market are renting out their apartments in increasing numbers, plus, of course, there's the enticement of lots of new developments featuring Westchester rental apartments, in neighborhoods as diverse as Yonkers (above, and top), Bronxville, New Rochelle, White Plains, Elmsford and Mamaroneck.


The market for Long Island rental apartments is also enjoying an unprecedented amount of new development and attention by prospective tenants. In Nassau County, for instance, Avalon Rockville Centre's rental apartments were two-thirds full before the complex, pictured above, officially opened.

And Bernie Quinn of Home Properties says that within his property management company's 3,500 Long Island rental apartments in neighborhoods all over the Island, the occupancy rate has been holding at an impressive 96% or above for quite a while.

Of course, all of this activity in the Long Island rental apartment market will only spur on more development in a part of New York City's suburbs that has traditionally been under-served by rentals (Westchester rental apartments make up just under 40% of housing units there, whereas in Long Island that number is still closer to 20%).

So look for more of these luxury suburban apartments to be built in the coming years. Which would be excellent news for anyone seeking to combine suburban living with the ease of rental apartment living.

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