Admittedly, I still dream of living in Downtown Manhattan. As an Upper West Sider, while I appreciate walking on quiet streets and living near a vast amount of green space in Riverside Park and Central Park, I definitely dig the vibe south of 23rd Street.
Back in 2008 when we were searching for an apartment to buy, my husband and I aimed to live in Chelsea. As a matter of fact, we came pretty close to buying a co-op on 24th between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, but we couldn’t pull the trigger because the price was higher, and the space required more work than comparable apartments farther uptown. Disappointed, we figured everything happens for a reason, so we started to focus our search on the Upper West Side. I guess Chelsea wasn’t meant to be, because here we are, six years later, living in the heart of the Upper West.
If you’re in a similar situation and scouring for a deal, or trying to nab the most square footage for the least amount of cash, I encourage you to expand your search area. Although you’ll notice some obvious discrepancies from downtown, these alternative neighborhoods offer more inventory at less per square foot than you’ll find anywhere near 14th Street. And should you find your next apartment, you might even discover a handful of downtown’s coveted characteristics in your new hood.
Spanish Harlem is an area brimming with culture, and can’t be ignored any longer as a viable choice for real estate investment. Known for its friendly demeanor, the enclave boasts a good selection of ethnic eateries, as well as the Target/Costco mall at 117th Street. With express bus service on First and Second Avenues, residents can reach the Upper East Side in mere minutes. Condo buildings have been developing over the last decade, and according to Streeteasy.com, currently, there are 18 properties listed for less than $800,00 in the neighborhood.
With the Second Avenue Subway slated to open at the end of 2016, and an array of hot new bars and restaurants already doing business in the nabe, Yorkville may be the next most happening area in Manhattan. Although most of the neighborhood is a haul from Central Park, Carl Schurz Park is easily accessed from most spots in Yorkville.
The key is to buy an apartment within the next year before the subway is completed, however. You’ll have to endure about another year of construction dirt and noise (perhaps less, depending on the time you buy), but after the train starts running, your property value will soar, and you’ll have access to a brand new subway line with escalators and elevators and a climate-controlled platform. Currently, you’ll find 61 properties less than $750,000 on the market.
Similar to Greenwich Village–– home of NYU –– Morningside Heights has a large college-age population. With Columbia University at 116th and Broadway, the area will continue to thrive, and remain an obvious option for real estate investment. You’ll find middle-class families as well as singles and students living in the neighborhood. Benefits of living in this part of town include terrific dining options, Riverside to the West, and Morningside Park running through the heart of the area.
The 1 train runs directly through the neighborhood with stops at 110th, 116th, and 125th and Broadway. Right now, Streeteasy.com shows 21 properties under $900,000 in Morningside Heights.