No More Roommates, No More Mom's Basement

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Millennial New Yorkers ditching roommates thanks to low Manhattan rents

Kristin O'Laughlin is done sharing her NYC home and now lives alone in a Chelsea studio.Stephen Yang
Good things come to those who wait.
After eight long years in Washington Heights, living with a rotating cast of roommates and Airbnb guests, Tia Allen finally lives alone.
“Every New Yorker knows that’s the goal,” said Allen, 37, a musician on furlough from “Jagged Little Pill” on Broadway. “Having the sanctuary when you come home to peace and quiet, it all makes such a huge difference.”
Other than lacking roomies, the Hell’s Kitchen two-bedroom where she moved in September, has other perks: an open layout, high ceilings and a reasonable price. Before the pandemic, this unit asked $3,195 per month. Now, Allen pays $2,195 for it — just a smidge more than her shared apartment uptown.

“That’s the one bonus that came out of the pandemic for me,” she said.
Despite its tolls on human life and the economy, the coronavirus pandemic has offered a silver lining for Manhattan renters: lower prices. And thanks to them, Allen — and numerous locals like her — can now afford to live alone for the first time.
In the third quarter of 2020, median rents in Manhattan fell to $2,990 — the first time that figure slipped below $3,000 since 2011, according to StreetEasy.
Tia Allen had roommates for eight long years. Now she’s renting a Hell’s Kitchen apartment that’s just for her.Tamara Beckwith/NY Post
The cause: low demand for new Manhattan leases as residents continue to leave town and work-from-home employees choose to no longer live in the expensive thick of Manhattan.
Landlords knocked off a median $272, or $3,264 per year, to lure in tenants.
Kristin O’Laughlin, a 27-year-old senior financial analyst, moved in August to a Chelsea studio, costing her $2,200 after getting a free month on a year-long lease. It’s $1,000 more per month than the Alphabet City three-bedroom she shared, but now she doesn’t have to worry about roommates not cleaning up their own messes, or hearing music blasting from another room.
“It’s definitely a world of change,” she said.
Siobhán Stocks-Lyons is now enjoying a vista-blessed 15th-floor studio — solo.Tamara Beckwith/NY Post
Siobhán Stocks-Lyons, a 26-year-old publicist, is another beneficiary of lower rent.
When the outbreak hit, she was still splitting a 600-square-foot Boerum Hill apartment with a roommate who also worked from home — making things even more cramped. Stocks-Lyons’ portion cost $1,700 per month. She dreamed about upgrading to a studio in an 18-story Midtown East rental blocks from her office.
But in July, prices at her fantasy tower had dropped roughly $600 per month. A month later, she moved into a 15th-floor studio with windows lining an entire wall and a balcony. The cost: $2,100, after negotiating the price slightly more down.
“I jumped on it,” she said, adding the biggest benefit is simply having her own place. “Living alone in a big space … is unbelievable,” she said.

If you want to get a really sweet deal … you have to get on it right away.
- Studio renter Jonathan Cort
How long will the deals last? Who knows, but Warburg Realty agent Mihal Gartenberg said that they may begin to vanish as offices reopen — creating demand to live in Manhattan.

“Your rent may have decreased, but when the lease becomes due to be renegotiated, what’s your starting point?” she said, noting it’s better to negotiate for free months, and consistent pricing, than to avoid a rent hike.
Jonathan Cort, 25, spent nearly four years living with two roommates in Washington Heights and was dying for more privacy. In September, he began looking for a way to lessen his roommate load.
He jumped at the opportunity to live in a Hell’s Kitchen studio.
It’s “very, very, very small” with a tiny kitchen, a “compact” bathroom and a sleeping loft, he said, but he couldn’t ignore the value. According to the lease, the apartment is worth $1,700, while he’s paying just $1,100 per month, well within his $1,500 budget.
“You have to be in the right place at the right time,” Cort said. “If you want to get a really sweet deal … you have to get on it right away.”
 
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