What a $500,000 Budget Buys You in New York City

A lot of people dream of moving to the big city. Here is a reality check on the city's housing market.

Jan 25, 2014 at 2:20PM
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New York City is one of the most interesting, and most expensive, real estate markets in the world. No matter what is going on in the economy, demand for apartments, condos, and co-ops in the city never seems to go down. 

In fact, after the mortgage crisis was destroying markets all over the country, NYC's market experienced just a 10% dip from the pre-crisis highs. According to Zillow, the average home price in the city peaked at $514,000 in 2006, and bottomed out at $461,000 in 2009. Since that time, the average home price in NYC has rebounded and is just shy of its pre-crisis peak.

There are always plenty of people, especially young professionals, who consider moving to New York for a variety of reasons, including careers and social lives. So, for the benefit of those would-be New Yorkers, let's take a look at what the average price buys you in several areas of New York City. Zillow says the average right now is $503,000, so let's make that our "cap."

1. Downtown Manhattan
Those who insist on being in the center of the action, $480,000 will buy you a small (doesn't say but looks to be less than 500 square feet) 1-bedroom apartment just steps from Times Square. There are many like this one to choose, and in our price range, nothing had more than one bedroom or 600 square feet.

                                  Downtown

Source: Trulia.

2. Harlem
This is a great way to live in Manhattan and stretch your dollars a bit. For $499,000, you can get this 3-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom condo just steps from the subway. The 958-square foot floorplan isn't enormous, but is big enough that you could have a roommate or two without feeling too cramped.

                                      Harlem

Source: Trulia.

3. Brooklyn
The place to be if you need a lot of space, or if you want to have a lot of roommates, Brooklyn is loaded with homes in the price range that have up to 8 bedrooms and 4,000 square feet of space. This 5-bedroom example with 2,320 square feet is in very good shape and is configured as two units, a 3-bedroom and a 2-bedroom. The home also has relatively low property taxes and is close to the subway into the city.

                                       Brooklyn

Source: Trulia.

4. Queens
Most of the half-million dollar homes in Queens are attached homes, but this 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom example is a single-family home with an updated kitchen and bathrooms that is on the market for $485,000. While the amount of space (just over 1,100 square feet) isn't huge, you do have a pretty good sized yard for a house in the city. 

                                 Queens

Source: Trulia.

5. Staten Island
Staten Island is where you can get the most for your money in NYC, which makes sense as it is the furthest borough from Manhattan. For example, $490,000 will get you this very well-maintained 3-bedroom townhome that has a ton of upgrades and access to a community pool, gym, sauna, and tennis courts.

                           Staten Island

Source: Trulia.

Foolish final thoughts
When considering buying a home in New York, it really comes down to how close you want to be to all of the action of the city. If space is a priority, it is truly amazing how much further your dollars will go just a short distance from downtown, and often very close to a subway line that will have you downtown in minutes.

For some, there's simply no replacing the feeling of being right in the middle of it all. Of course, this is why Manhattan real estate is so expensive in the first place!

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Matthew Frankel has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Zillow. The Motley Fool owns shares of Zillow. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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