Because New York packs in many more people per square mile than most cities, space is at a premium, particularly in Manhattan. As you check the apartment listings, whether you're looking to rent a room or a whole apartment, you'll come across various terms you may not have heard of. What exactly is a Railroad Apartment? Not sure of the difference between a Junior 1 and a One Bedroom? Let SpareRoom be your guide.
Popular for their privacy and affordability, studios are one-room apartments where living area, bedroom and kitchenette are combined into a single room. The term 'studio' can be slightly misleading as the bathroom is separate, but in many studios this will just be a cramped shower room or wet room.
Types/descriptions of studio apartment
- Alcove Studios - These have an alcove off the main room, which makes it into an L-shape. The alcove will normally become the bedroom, meaning the bed can be hidden from the living area with curtains or a screen.
- Efficiency Apartments or Batchelor Apartments - Generally slightly smaller than a conventional studio.
- Convertible studios - These usually have an alcove that serves as a bedroom or is large enough to screen off as a section of the living area.
One bedroom apartments
These come in three main types:
- Junior 1 - A studio with an additional small room or a big walk-in closet. In most cases it won't have a window so can't technically be called a bedroom (and sometimes it won't have a door).
- One bedroom - A true one bedroom has a proper bedroom with a window and a door that closes, as well as a separate living area and, probably, a separate kitchen and bathroom. Some have an additional half-bath (which is a bathroom without a bath or shower - just a toilet and basin). Sometimes a tenant will choose to rent out part of the living space in a one bedroom apartment by separating it off with a flexible wall. Others will just make the bedroom in the living area a temporary affair, pulling out a sofa bed or futon every night.
- Junior 4 - A large one bedroom that has a full kitchen, separate dining area and a large lounge area big enough to section off and make it shareable with a roommate.
Two bedrooms and up
A true two bed is probably the type of apartment most in demand in New York City. To be a true two bedroom it must have two separate bedrooms, each with a window and door that closes. It will also have a separate kitchen, living room and at least one bathroom. Sometimes the kitchen forms part of the living area, separated just by a counter top. These apartments will normally have a master bedroom (sometimes with an ensuite bathroom) and a smaller second bedroom. These are often rented out to a roommate at a lower rate. Otherwise, if the bedrooms are the same size, the rent is usually split down the middle. You may also come acros the convertible 2 bedroom or flex 2. These are large 1 bedrooms with enough space to convert into a second bedroom with a flexible wall.
It's fairly uncommon to find apartments larger than 2 bedrooms but they do exist. They're mostly found in luxury buildings or in more ancient walk-ups.
Classic 6 apartments consist of two full bedrooms, plus a third smaller bedroom off the kitchen. There'll also be a formal dining room as well as a living room and kitchen, plus 2 full bathrooms and a half bath too
Classic 7 and 8 apartments also exist, with extra bedrooms in a similar layout to the Classic 6, but they're pretty rare in New York City.
Sharing bigger apartments with a bunch of roommates can be great socially, as well as more affordable, as general expenses (utilities etc) are split between more people.
Many people have an ideal image of a loft apartment in their head when they move to Manhattan. These are usually found in industrial buildings that have been converted for residential occupancy. Lofts are coveted for their abundance of light, high ceilings, wide-open feel and industrial character. They're most often found in Soho, Tribeca, Chelsea, the Meatpacking District, Harlem and Hell's Kitchen.
Hard lofts are 'real' post-industrial buildings converted for residential use.
Soft lofts were built as residential apartments in the style of lofts, generally in the last 20 years. Some have kept their wide open feel and have nothing much to delineate one 'room' from another. Others have been separated into rooms by their owners, using screens or rolling walls.
Railroad apartments and Shotgun apartments
The names tell you something about the layout of these units, where space is at a premium.
Railroad apartments are long and thin and all the rooms sit one behind another in a long row (like in a railroad car). They're connected by a single hallway, running the length of the apartment, with every room having a door off the hallway.
A variation of the railroad apartment is the Shotgun apartment. These don't have a hallway, instead all the rooms connect directly from one to another. Sharing a Shotgun apartment can be problematic as you'll need to walk through your roommate's bedroom to get to yours, or vice versa. Railroad and Shotgun apartments are generally only found in older buildings and brownstones in New York, as they were a solution to overcrowding in the mid 1800s. Shotgun apartments tend to be cheaper than other types of apartments in brownstones and can often be in desirable neighborhoods, so competition for them amongst young professionals on a budget can be fierce.
Walk up apartments
Walk up apartments are in buildings without an elevator. These must be six stories or lower.
Apartments, Condos and Co-ops
These differ from each other, not in any physical sense, but by the type of ownership and management they're controlled by.
Condos are apartments in a block with shared services, controlled by an association of the owners.
Apartments tend to be owned by a company and rented out to tenants.
Condos are generally build to a higher standard than apartments and you may see some rooms in condos available to rent. The approval process can be longer, as the tenant or owner will usually need to get the agreement of the board before you can move in.
Co-ops (housing co-operatives) are very common in NYC. Co-ops are associations of the owners of (or resident households in) a building.
A word on bedrooms - small or large?
On SpareRoom.com you'll see bedrooms advertised as either small or large. Just to clarify, because we see some people getting confused by these terms, here's how it works.
- A small room is a bedroom big enough for a single bed (with space to walk around and a little storage).
- A large room is normally bigger, large enough for a double bed (or queen, king etc.). Large rooms aren't just for couples - after all, who really wants to sleep in a single bed?
There's no standard size definition for each type - if the room's big enough to fit a double bed, then it's generally a large room.
We try to keep our listings are as accurate as possible but do rely on users entering the correct information at the time of posting. You might occasionally see information in the room description that contradicts the room size given. Our advice in this instance is to contact the advertiser and check.
Check out a list of rooms for rent in New York currently listed on SpareRoom.com.
Disclaimer - This information is for general informational purposes only and should not be treated as legal advice. We recommend you consult an experienced New York Landlord Tenant attorney if you require legal advice.