Got the high rent blues? There's life outside Manhattan, we promise...
We totally get that your budget is tiny. At SpareRoom we've dealt with thousands of people in your position, and most of the time they manage to find a room to rent through our site - even in New York City. Really. Bargains can definitely be found in Manhattan if you're willing to compromise on space (and are prepared to wait for the right thing to come along), but for the real steals you need to think outside the grid system. You need to get out of the 'need to be near Fifth Avenue/Washington Square Park/that famous restaurant' mindset and open yourself up to new areas.
We've pulled out some of our favorite outside the grid areas - they all have great public transportation services, enough stuff to do if you're in a stay local kinda mood and loads of other young people. What's more, they're all way cheaper than Manhattan.
OK this one's actually still in Manhattan. But we're including it because it's never been considered 'real' Manhattan. Until recently it was notorious for crime, poverty, high unemployment levels and abysmal life expectancy and, although realtors tried passing the area off as the Upper East Side or Upper West Side, no one really bought into it - literally - so rental prices were always lower.
These days rents are still much lower than the rest of Manhattan, but Harlem has cleaned up its act - and it's a fascinating and exciting place to live. As with the rest of New York City, there are heaps of different neighborhoods in Harlem - each with their own distinctive culture. But while they each have a unique feel, they're also part of the general Harlem identity. Harlem is a big area, but transport to the rest of Manhattan is easy wherever you live. The A, C, 1, B and D go up the West Side; the 2 and 3 go up Lenox Avenue (in the center); and the 4, 5 and 6 go up the East Side.
Ask a Manhattanite what they think of Astoria and they'll ask what Astoria is. It's one of the most under-the-radar areas left in NYC, which is great for you because it has an eclectic and thriving community, great transport links and (relatively) cheap rent.
Loads of nationalities have settled here over the years (including Dutch, German, Maltese and Bangladeshi), but today it's all about Italians, Greeks and Arabs. They live in separate pockets of the neighborhood but, as with Harlem, there's also an overall feel of being part of the Astoria culture. Young professionals and families are starting to move here as they're being priced out of other NYC neighborhoods.
Astoria is in the northwestern part of Queens, so it's really near Manhattan but far, far cheaper. And the transport links are great: you've got the E, M, R, N and Q trains which will all take you into Manhattan in super-speedy time.
Greenpoint is just north of uber-cool Williamsburg, but it's quite a lot cheaper - probably because it's only served by the G train, which is notoriously crappy. (Although we promised we'd only feature places with great transportation, we still feel Greenpoint is worth mentioning because it's so very close to Williamsburg - which has the L train too).
There are some really great bars and restaurants, as well as a truly fantastic park - McCarren Park - on the borders of Williamsburg and Greenpoint. And if you're a fan of the TV show Girls, you can hang out at the same Cafe Grumpy where Hannah works in the show.
Families and hipsters have been moving here in equal measure over the past few years, and gentrification has already begun - so get in quick.
These are just three of our outside the grid areas. Got a tip of your own to share? Let us know where you recommend (and why).