Exploring Further North in Upper Manhattan :: Inwood

The apartment market is something that I’ve kind of gotten caught up in since moving to the city. I think part of it is the fascination with how truly different the market is here than any other city in the country and the other half is always being on the hunt for the best deal. Now, I’m not sure the term “best deal” really applies to any apartment in New York but I’m using that term relative to the market. It’s funny because what you pay for rent generally isn’t a hot topic of conversation in other cities I’ve lived in, but here.. It’s almost like bragging rights if you’re getting a decent deal. During my time in the city I’ve progressively gotten worse at day-dreaming about apartments to the point where I can tell you the going rates in just about every neighborhood in Manhattan and some of Brooklyn and Jersey City. If anything, I guess if PR doesn’t work out for me, maybe there’s a career option in real estate lol!

I’ve come to terms that at the end of my current lease (this summer) we will probably be saying goodbye to our first New York apartment and move onto something else. That “something else” of which I can plan on spending more money than I currently am. For this reason, I’ve been on the hunt for finding neighborhoods I can get more bang for my buck. With the going rate of a cheap studio in my current neighborhood coming in at $1,500+ for a fee-apartment and $1,675+ for a no-fee for a measly 250-350 square feet I’m all ears for options. In case I haven’t mentioned before, New York apartments are shown by brokers of which you have to pay a fee, usually between 12% and 15% of the yearly rent, upon signing a lease. When the market was worse you could find no-fee apartments, apartments without brokers fees, easier but with the upturn it’s become harder to find affordable no-fee apartments. Don’t let me forget that to get approved most buildings want you to make 40x the yearly rent. 80-100x if you have a guarantor.

One neighborhood that I recently started looking into is called Inwood. It’s located on the very north tip of the Upper West Side, right below the Bronx. I met a girl at a networking event that couldn’t stop gushing about her apartment and after telling me her and her boyfriend have a 2 bedroom for $1,650, I started to do my research! My biggest concern being safety. the Upper East Side is one of the safest neighborhoods in Manhattan and yet I still don’t like walking around after dark by myself. You never know! After my research I found that the area west of Broadway is populated mostly with middle class families and is considered a very up-and-coming area. The crime rate is relatively low in Inwood, ranking the 3rd safest neighborhood in Manhattan, although I read it’s a tougher community east of Broadway.

After doing some research and finding you can get a 1 bedroom fee-apartment for $1,275+ I had to take a trip up there! It’s a little bit of a hike from the Upper East Side (45 mins) because we went to the Upper West Side first, but it turns out it is about a 25 minute subway ride north from where I work, so it wouldn’t be a bad commute.

We started by taking a walk in Inwood Hill Park where we were welcomed with this little guy. I was so excited to actually see a black squirrel! There are two main parks up there, Inwood Hill Park, which is very large and then Isham Park, where they host a farmer’s market every Saturday. The area came across very cute. It’s definitely mostly residential, but I enjoyed the green space. I’m sure it’s really nice in the summer too!

We went up and down the streets so that I could mark off which ones I thought would be acceptable when my apartment hunt comes around.

For the most part I felt pretty safe up there, but I’m not sure if I would have felt differently if I had been by myself. The area west of Broadway is really cute as well as close to Columbia’s football field. You really feel like you’ve left Manhattan, which is kind of a nice change of pace. It’s also only one stop north to the Bronx where there is a super Target! You can bet I also went up there and checked it out!

After checking out the neighborhood overall I did think it was a cute area. For the prices of apartments and staying in Manhattan (even if only at the tip) in a safer area you really can’t beat it. For me, one downfall was even though I felt relatively comfortable in Inwood, the train ride up there goes through every stop in Harlem, which I can tell you I would not feel comfortable riding up there by myself… Another issue is that it would make seeing Chris and my friends a little more difficult since most of them live on the Upper East Side, which isn’t the easiest commute. 

I think if I had friends up there or was living with someone else it would be higher at my contenders list, but I am happy I checked it out!