7 Types of Rental Buildings in Manhattan

Modern Building in Manhattan

Modern Building in ManhattanMoving to New York City can often feel overwhelming. In Manhattan alone there are 840,675 apartments. Almost 70% of these are rentals – this means that you have 587,313 rental possibilities when moving to New York! The good news is there is a way to simplify your choices.

There  are only seven types of rental buildings in Manhattan- once you identify the type of building you want to live in, the process will be much easier. For some people, living in a smaller apartment in a modern building with fantastic amenities is ideal. Others may prefer a prewar building with more space and old world charm and décor. Knowing this information before you start will significantly help in your search.

You can then use our map to find out exactly which buildings you can afford to live in in which neighborhoods, and view starting prices for apartments in each.

Each type has its pros and cons.


Modern buildings are buildings that were built after 2000.

They will offer the highest level of building amenities and apartment renovations. They also charge the highest amount of rent per square foot.

Pros: The apartments themselves offer the highest level renovations with condo style kitchens and bathrooms. The buildings have world class amenities such as health clubs, tenant lounges, swimming pools, children’s playrooms, golf simulators, pet spas, steam rooms and saunas, bowling alleys, rock-climbing walls and spectacular roof decks and outdoor areas. These are always doorman elevator buildings.

Cons: These are the most expensive rental apartments New York City has to offer. They tend to be smaller than other types of apartments. Many of these buildings are in neighborhoods that aren’t centrally located.

For examples of modern buildings, please see “Top Ten Modern Rental Buildings in Manhattan”.


Classic postwar buildings were buildings built after World War II. Many of these were built in 1960, 70’s and 80’s.

Pros: These apartments tend to have larger floor plans and ample storage space. They are generally less expensive than modern buildings, but still offer gyms, tenant lounges and other amenities. Many of them are centrally located in prime neighborhoods. The kitchens and baths can be renovated. These are doorman elevator buildings.

Cons: Aesthetically, these are often referred to as “cookie-cutter” apartments. They lack the “wow” factor of modern buildings, or the charm factor of prewar apartments. The building amenities are not as plush as modern buildings.

For examples of classic doorman post war buildings, please see “Top Ten Classic Doorman Post War Rental Buildings in Manhattan”.


Classic prewar buildings were built before World War II.

Pros: These are generally charming buildings with thick hardwood floors, cherry wood moldings and many other appealing details. Many of these buildings are located in the hearts of the most desirable neighborhoods in Manhattan. Some of the two and three bedroom apartments are the largest in the city. These are generally less expensive per square foot than modern buildings.

Cons: Charm comes with a price and with many of these buildings built before World War II, the steam heat may make banging noises during the winter, and the plumbing may give staggering bursts of hot and cold water.

For examples of classic doorman pre-war buildings, please see “Top Ten Classic Doorman Pre War Rental Buildings in Manhattan”.

Mid-Rise Elevator 

Red and brick buildings built after World War II.

Pros: If you’re willing to give up the doorman, you can often get more space for your money. You also don’t have to have a relationship with a doorman. Once in a while you can find a substantially lower-priced apartment than you would in a comparable doorman building in the neighborhood.

Cons: You will not have a doorman to receive your packages. Many of these buildings feel “older.” There are not many of them located throughout Manhattan.

For examples of midrise elevator non doorman buildings, please see “Top Ten Midrise Elevator Non Doorman Rental Buildings in Manhattan”.

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Town House and Brownstones

Pros: These majestic buildings were built before 1900. Many of them are 25 feet wide and 100 feet deep. They feature 12 to 14 foot ceilings, built-in fireplaces and are located in the heart of New York City’s residential neighborhoods. They can be some of the largest apartments in Manhattan (if you are renting the whole townhouse).

Cons: These are very old buildings subject to constant upgrades. Some of them have been cut up into tiny little apartments. The bottom floor may have access to a garden, but be dark. The top floor may be bright but it’s at the top of six floors.


Lofts consist of wide open renovated commercial space.

Pros: Many of these spaces will have the largest floor plans in the city. They are open floor plans allowing you lots of room. Many of them have high ceilings and large windows. The buildings themselves may have many amenities, and the apartments themselves may be newly renovated.

Cons: They are very expensive, also some people do not like having an open floor plan where there is no clearly marked enclosed space for sleeping area.

For examples of loft buildings, please see “Top Ten Loft Rental Buildings in Manhattan”.

Walk –Up

Built before 1900. They are typically 5 to 7 stories tall and are located in some of New York City’s oldest neighborhoods.

Pros: These will be your least expensive options for renting an apartment in Manhattan. They are centrally located in some of Manhattan’s most desirable neighborhoods. Some of the buildings are old, but the apartments themselves have been renovated.

Cons: These buildings are all over hundred years old, the apartments themselves a small. They have limited closet space and no amenities. There is no central database that lists all of the current availabilities for this type of building.

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