Most NYC landlords use a 40x rent rule, so your annual salary will need to be 40x the monthly rent to qualify for most apartments. For example, if you wanted to rent a $1,500 per month apartment you should make $60,000 a year.
The 40x rent rule makes it tougher to rent in New York City than in other parts of the country, which typically use a 3x monthly rent rule (which would mean 36x by NYC standards).
Some NYC landlords, especially those who own more affordable, low-income apartments, may have even more stringent rules in place. It’s not uncommon to see sub-$2,000 per month rentals with 50X the monthly rent and 700+ credit as requirements.
If you’re good with numbers, you won’t even need a rent calculator to figure out how much NYC apartment you can afford. All you need to do is to take your gross yearly income and divide it by 40. If that sounds tricky to calculate, an easy way to simplify the math is to knock a zero off your income and then divide by 4. So if you make $100,000, you can afford to rent a $2,500 per month NYC apartment. You can use the table below to calculate roughly how much rent you can afford in NYC.
|Gross Yearly Income||Max Monthly Rent|
Essentially, you can afford $250 in monthly rent for every $10,000 of yearly gross income you earn. If the landlord uses a 50X rent requirement instead of the typical 40X, your renting power is reduced by 25%, meaning you’ll only afford $200 in rent for every $10,000 in earnings.
While rent will be your most significant expense, living in NYC is expensive, and you should account for all other costs and fees. Utilities can easily run you a few hundred bucks a month, and some buildings might have additional amenity fees. Some other potential expenses will be any broker fees you may pay as well as moving fees, neither of which are all that affordable in New York City. Another up-front expense will be your security deposit, but at least that’s refunded at the end of your lease.
You may also find it helpful to consider your overall budget. To do this, you’ll first want to figure out your net income after taxes. If you’re a W2 employee, this can be calculated based on your paychecks, depending on how often you receive them as your employer is likely withholding taxes. Otherwise, a safe percentage to deduct for NY state, federal, and city taxes is 30-35% of your income.
Once you’ve figured out your net income, you can work out your other expenses like food, public transportation, insurance, and of course, entertainment. You’re living in the best city in the world, after all, so you’ll undoubtedly want to set aside some cash to have yourself some fun.
Here are some options you have if you don’t have a high enough income to qualify for a New York apartment on your own.
Guarantor: If you don’t make enough to qualify for an apartment, you can find a NYC guarantor to co-sign your lease. This can be a friend or family member, or you can even hire a company to act as your guarantor. Your lease guarantor would be legally responsible for making payments if you don’t and would need to have a gross annual income of 80-100X the monthly rent.
Condos: When you rent a NYC condo, you’re typically going to be renting from a small, local landlord and not an institutional landlord. That means the owner will often be less strict when it comes to income requirements. You’ll also be able to put down extra security or pre-pay more easily than you would in a rental building or rent-stabilized building.
Roommates: When you rent with roommates, you are often able to combine your income to qualify for an apartment, meaning you’ll have a lot more options. While you may not necessarily want to share your apartment, finding a roommate is a great way to make living in NYC more affordable. By living with roommates, you’re not only saving on rent, but also cutting costs on other monthly expenses like utilities, internet, and cable tv.
Expand your search: While you may not be able to afford an apartment in Soho, Chelsea, Tribeca, or Williamsburg, oftentimes, expanding your search to other areas can be a great solution. There are plenty of incredible neighborhoods throughout NYC, and if you start looking outside of Manhattan and prime Brooklyn, rents will be significantly cheaper. Not only will the apartments be more affordable, but you’ll also have a better chance of finding a flexible landlord who may have less stringent rental requirements.