Recently, we asked our readers to do what New Yorkers tend to do best—kvetch about real estate. What's their number one complaint about their apartment—size, location, mice infestation?
Our poll results turned out to be fairly consistent with what the data suggests about the average New Yorker: Most of us find the cost of living here to be a tremendous burden. In fact, the average New York renter spends over 65 percent of their income on housing.
Brick readers are clearly feeling the crunch. Almost 20 percent of responders to our poll said their biggest complaint about their apartments is that they're too expensive. Read on to find out what else drives New Yorkers up the proverbial wall:
Question 1: Where do you live?
The majority of our respondents—over 54 percent—live in Manhattan, where home prices are still the highest: $4,044 per month for the average rental, and nearly $2.1 million for the average sale. And for them, the cost of housing was a slightly larger gripe than it was for New Yorkers overall: 22 percent said it was their primary complaint about living in NYC.
Many living in Brooklyn, where the average rental is $3,045 and the average sale is $947,553, are similarly frustrated: 14 percent say housing expenses bother them more than anything else.
But in Queens, where the average rental is $2,992 and the average sale $573,455, locals were equally aggrieved by a lack of storage, unresponsive supers, and noisy neighbors (12 percent of respondents said that each of these was their main gripe.)
Question 2: Do you own or rent?
Of those who weighed in on our poll, renters outnumbered homeowners two to one, and their primary concerns are quite distinct. What sets owners' nerves on edge? Cost is a worry, of course, but sensory disturbances are even more bothersome: 19 percent say their noisy neighbors are getting to them, while 12 percent each find their homes too small and too overheated (makes sense given that it's winter right now).
For renters, meanwhile, after price (23 percent), many also complain about the diminutive size of their apartments (13 percent) and their super or landlord not responding to requests for service (11 percent).
3. What is your number one complaint about your home?
Across the board, Brick readers are bothered by high prices, small sizes, and too much noise in their apartments; lack of natural light and ineffectual supers are also major gripes. (One bright spot? Everyone seems to feel fine about their roommates: Not a single reader identified this as a big issue.)
There were a number of interesting write-in grievances, as well. One reader said that they're contending with poor water quality: "Cloudy from one tap, brown from another. Aggravating."
Air quality was a concern, too: "30 years ago exhaust fans were turned off—no ventilaton for Kitchen or Bathroom. Ugh!" said another reader.
One respondent's landlord sounded not just negligent but downright scary: "The landlord keeps 3 barking Rottweiler guard dogs in cages in the basement to harass tenants with," they complained.
And one New Yorker's biggest gripe—"no roof deck"—seems less pressing than some of the other complaints. But then again, we suppose life's largest difficulties are all in the eye of the beholder.
Resources for tenants
If your biggest apartment gripe is more of a menace than an inconvenience, you do have options. Neither of these is easy, but renters in search of cheaper housing should check out our guides to applying to the affordable housing lottery and finding a rent-stabilized apartment; for first-time buyers on a budget, it might be worthwhile to consider purchasing an HDFC.
If your super or landlord continually ignores your requests for repairs, we have seven suggestions for motivating them into action. Too much noise from the street, or your neighbors? Read about how to turn your apartment into a (relatively) silent sanctuary. And if the temperature is way off, educate yourself on what to do when it's too hot or too cold at home.
Finally, if you're dealing with a situation that could be dangerous to your well-being—said landlord harassing tenants with ferocious guard dogs, perhaps—your best bet may be to band together with other residents and form a tenants association.
After all, in a city where almost everyone has a grievance about their housing, you may discover that there's an untapped strength in numbers.
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