Updated 8/24/15, 8:45am.
At this point, playing the "who's got it worse" game with rent-burdened San Franciscans is practically a sport. (Misery loves company.) And with median rents in both Manhattan and SF now surpassing $3k a month, where are beleaguered coastal renters most likely to find themselves a rare, rent-regulated apartment?
Trulia has gone ahead and mapped out neighborhoods in NYC and SF that they estimate to have the highest ratio of rent-regulated apartments, and found some differences between the two ultra-expensive cities: here in New York, you're more likely to find a rent-stabilized unit in "less expensive" neighborhoods like Inwood, Harlem, and Washington Heights, where rentals are less likely to have surpassed the $2,700 deregulation threshold (which was recently bumped up from its previous level, $2,500):
Whereas in San Francisco, older neighborhoods without much new construction are your best bet, since the city's rent control laws only apply to buildings built before 1979:
Granted, the methodology is pretty rough here—the percentages used in the New York are estimates based on whether multi-family buildings in a neighborhood were listed within the past two years for $2,700 or less, built before 1974, and have more than six units. (In other words, it excludes rent-stabilized units that just haven't changed hands within the last two years.—You can read the full report here.) And keep in mind that the "rent controlled" label on the map is a bit of a misnomer, as the data in New York mostly accounts for rent stabilized units. (Rent controlled apartments—which have to have been built before 1947, per New York law—are nigh impossible to come by unless you—or an aging relative—already lives in one.) [Update: Trulia has changed the title of the NYC map to specify that it covers only rent-stabilized units in the city.]
Still, it highlights an interesting point for renters on the hunt for a stabilized apartment: you'll likely do best by taking your search to the city's denser, cheaper neighborhoods than holding out hope for that rare rent-stabilized find in the West Village. (Sorry.) But take heart: if you look hard enough, you can still hunt down a rent-stabilized apartment in this city. It'll probably just be a few subway stops farther out than you expected.