A healthy skepticism is in order when you’re looking for a rental apartment in New York City. If something seems too good to be true, it usually (but not always) is.
And you should also pay attention to what is not shown in the listing, because if something isn’t being presented at all, it can be pretty bad. Missing a photo or description of the kitchen or bathroom? You would be wise to keep your expectations low.
Of course, sometime you get a slapdash listing put together with minimal or messy photos because complete slobs occupy the rental and the place shows poorly. In that case, taking a chance on seeing the apartment and keeping an open mind can pay off.
This two-bedroom apartment in Hell’s Kitchen, 642 10th Ave., #2S, is one of those puzzling listings. There’s a lot to like here, like the prime West Side neighborhood, where restaurants, entertainment and transportation options are plentiful. The apartment has been gut renovated, and has new appliances, a washer/dryer, large closets, exposed brick, and a decorative fireplace.
Most significantly, the gross rent is about $3,214 a month, with the second month free on a 15-month lease. That’s much cheaper than the $4,920 median asking rent for a two bedroom in Hell’s Kitchen.
The likely reason is the layout—the living room is small, narrow, and appears to lack windows. One of bedrooms may not be legal size—and is that a sliding door?
But if you’re not picky about these things, this could be an affordable way to live in Manhattan—and be close to everything it has to offer. Hey, it’s only two blocks from where “Kinky Boots” is playing.
As always, when weighing New York City apartment listings, we turn to our Take It Or Leave It experts: Constantine Valhouli, founder of real estate research and analytics firm NeighborhoodX, freelance writer Lambeth Hochwald, and myself.
But first, here are pictures of the apartment.
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Pros and cons
“I'm digging the fab new floors and the subway tile-bedecked bath in this Hell's Kitchen two-bed but it worries me that I don't see a photo of the second bedroom. Also this apartment is super narrow, so if you're claustrophobic this place really might not fly.” —Lambeth Hochwald
“On one hand: washer and dryer in your own unit. We're willing to forgive a lot, just for this feature. And the renovation looks good, overall. The bedrooms may be a bit small, and the layout a bit funky, but we're okay with this as well—it's rare to find anything decent in the city for $1,500-$1,600 a month per person. Besides, if you wanted large, spacious, standardized units that look like those rows of humans-as-energy-pods from 'The Matrix,' you wouldn't be in NYC, you'd be in Vegas. Speaking of which, has Elon Musk proposed doing this yet? Because after the Mars thing, nothing surprises me anymore.” —Constantine Valhouli
“I really like the combination of dark floors and exposed brick, but this windowless living room probably feels more like a hallway. I suspect it was carved up to create a second bedroom. But if that’s what it takes to make NYC affordable, it could make sense for a pair of roommates.” —Jennifer White Karp
Whom it’s perfect for
“A couple who want to be close to the theater but nowhere near Times Square.” —Hochwald
Two people who work in Midtown and want to be able to walk to work. Really, what's not to like about a newer apartment in Midtown for the price of getting bedbugged in central Brooklyn? Also, even if we use the suburban metric of rent-as-no-more-than-30 percent-of-salary, this place works. It's as if you're channeling Dr. Frank-N-Furter and renting in a time warp—these are 1990s prices.” —Valhouli
“It’s great for two creative types who don’t want to have to slave away at a second (or third) job in order to live their dream in Manhattan.” —White Karp
Take it or leave it
TAKE IT “Provided the downstairs space isn't going to end up being a loud bar or nightclub.” —Hochwald
TAKE IT “But check on the street noise. The bedroom on the avenue side of the apartment is likely going to be loud, and the cacophony of swearing and honking of the Lincoln Tunnel traffic will become the soundtrack to your residency here."—Valhouli
TAKE IT “If you can live with the small bedroom and narrow living room—you’re not going to be home anyway much. There’s too much going on outside your door.” —White Karp
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