Moving 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 Manhattan alone! The good news is there is a way to simplify your choices.
There are only eight types of rental buildings- once you identify the type of building you want to live in-you will significantly simplify the search process.
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.
Ultra Modern Doorman Buildings
These buildings were built in the last five- seven years. They feature top-of-the-line condo like finishes, and unparalleled amenities. These could include grand lobbies; Wi-Fi equipped tenant lounges, 70,000 ft.² fitness centers, indoor and outdoor pools, outdoor theaters, media lounges, pet spas, bowling alleys, basketball courts, spa services, yoga rooms. There is virtually no amenity that these buildings do not have.
But, these will be the smallest apartments priced at the highest levels. In addition many of these are not centrally located.
Mima Tower 460 West 42 Street is a perfect example of an ultramodern doorman building.
Modern doorman buildings
These buildings were built from 1990 until about 2010. Some of these units will also have condo like finishes. Most of them will have a gym, tenant lounge, roof deck. They will not have the same kind of amenities as the ultramodern doorman buildings. The apartments themselves will either be ultra renovated with condo finishes (and therefore more costly), or will be more of the style represented by when these were built. They may feature white on white kitchens. The finishes will be more “high-end rental” than “condo”.
These apartments tend to be slightly larger than the ultramodern building, and a little less expensive. They also tend to be located in more centralized locations.
The Olivia 315 West 33 Street -is a good example of a modern doorman building.
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 Doorman Post War
Classic postwar buildings were buildings built after World War II. Many of these were built in 1960, 70’s and 80’s.
These buildings are some of the largest floor plans that you’ll find in rental buildings. Many of these buildings will have modest amenities. And if they do have lots of amenities, they will not be as updated as the ultramodern buildings. But you’re going to get a lot more space for your money, and many of these are very centrally located. Many people refer to these apartments as “cookie-cutter” apartments, because they often lack sex appeal. These are basic good apartments, the “Honda Accord” of apartments.
Parc East 240 East 27 Street-is a good example of a typical post war doorman building.
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 Doorman Pre-War
Classic prewar buildings were built before World War II. 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. 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.
111 East 80 Street-is a good example of a typical prewar doorman building.
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 Non Doorman
Low rise buildings built after World War II. These buildings are generally 6 to 12 stories high and have no doorman. You will get slightly more space for your money. But depending on whether or not the landlord has renovated the building or the apartment, they can sometimes seem old and tired. There are not many of these types of building in Manhattan-but once in a while you’ll get lucky, and get a renovated space-for a good price.
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 –Non Doorman Walk Up
These majestic buildings were built before 1900. Anything less than 20 feet wide is considered narrow, 25 feet or more are highly sought after.. 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). But, 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.
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 – Doorman and Non Doorman
A loft apartment is generally considered to be a large and open space. Often times it won’t have any interior walls and at one point was used as either commercial or industrial building. Specific parts of the city like Soho and Tribeca have the vast majority of loft apartments in New York City. There are other neighborhoods that have almost no loft properties. Here’s a great example of a loft property.
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 / Tenements
These buildings were originally built for immigrants arriving in New York City. They are normally six story brick walk ups. These will be the smallest and least expensive apartments in New York City. These buildings exist in many of New York City’s oldest neighborhoods, Greenwich Village, the lower East side, Hells kitchen, Chelsea and of course the upper East and upper West side. Depending on the level of renovation in the apartment itself-these are always going to be your smallest and least expensive options for renting a New York. The link below will bring you to a landlord that has many of these types of buildings.
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.