Finding Affordable Student Rentals in New York, NY

Apart from college tuition, student room and board is the next highest college expense. This problem is even more severe in large cities such as New York with many colleges but with high cost of rental real estate.

Affordable New York city student housing can be found at:

  • Bushwick in Brooklyn
  • Astoria in Queens
  • Fordham in Bronx
  • Morningside Heights in Manhattan
  • Washington Heights in Manhattan
  • Inwood in Manhattan
  • Jersey City, New Jersey

Plan on spending between $800 to $1500 for one bedroom in a 2, 3 or 4 bedroom apartment.

Affordable Student Rentals in New York City

For finding affordable student rentals in New York City, here are a few tips:

  • Find an apartment in the winter when there is much less competition due to which the rental rates are likely to be lower
  • Start looking atleast 1 month before start of your college session so that you can have more choices and negotiate the best deal
  • Share an apartment by renting a single room in a 2, 3 or 4 bedroom apartment
  • Look for rentals where the utilities are included in the monthly rent. This will ensure that you don’t end up with large utility bills

For the best rental experience, follow this approach:

  • Try to find roommates from your own college who have similar interests and preferences as yourself
  • Look for an apartment that is closer to your college with a nearby subway station for an easier commute
  • If you have specific food preferences, make sure your roommates have similar preferences, or atleast ensure that your roommates are able to accommodate your preferences. This is because you will most likely be sharing a kitchen and it’s much easier if everyone has similar food preferences
  • Make sure the building has CCTV cameras and other security features such as entry-restricted front gate. Most parts of Manhattan and the above-mentioned neighborhoods in boroughs such as Brooklyn and Bronx are safe for college students

Have all your documents and other things ready such as:

  • Your driver’s license or passport
  • A guarantor for your rental payments. This is a person who will be responsible for guaranteeing that you pay your rent on time. This can be your parent, friend or relative. There are also professional guarantors who take up this responsibility for a fee
  • Your funding documents such as scholarships or loan documents
  • Your college acceptance letter to show to your landlord
  • Letters of recommendation in case it’s required
  • Also if required, keep a copy of your most recent bank statement

Be sure to consult your college administration for help, references or recommendations on off-campus student rentals. Some colleges match students with similar roommates from their college or provide a list of their most frequently used off-campus rental properties.

It is best to start searching for your room in New York even before you arrive in New York city. This is because hotels in New York are very expensive. Or if you have a friend or relative with whom you can stay for a few weeks while you search for an apartment room, that would save you a lot of money.

Consider a longer-term lease for lower rent and be sure to go over the lease agreement to ensure the terms are satisfactory. Ensure that the rent will not increase much upon lease renewal.

Before signing on the dotted line, make sure you are comfortable with the landlord and all your roommates.

Roommates with similar preferences and personalities will make for a more comfortable living. So it is best to be roommates with students who can be good friends so that you will be able to live together as a cohesive group.

Living with roommates will require you to be more accommodating and adjusting. It’s best to talk it out right in the beginning about everyone’s requirements and preferences, so there is no misunderstanding later on.

There are many websites such as, and others which list student rental properties.

Before starting your search, be sure to have a large map of New York city along with the subway map so you can look for apartments that are close to your college and that offer an easier commute.

Try to find an apartment that is in the same borough as your college. For example, if your college is in Manhattan or Brooklyn, look for accommodation in Manhattan or Brooklyn and not more that 30 mins commute from college. This will save you time and energy which you can spend in your studies comfortably.

Where Do Students Live In New York City?

Students either live in a college dorm or in off-campus student rentals in one of the boroughs in New York city or in nearby Jersey city. Living off-campus can help students to better manage their rental and living expenses, while providing a better lifestyle with more dining options.

Of the 5 boroughs, Manhattan has the maximum number of colleges and universities of which there are about 110. Columbia university, an ivy league, is also located in Manhattan. The popular City University of New York (CUNY) has multiple college campuses in all the 5 boroughs.

Popular Manhattan Colleges and Rentals

Morningside Heights in upper mid-west of Manhattan is perfect for students studying in Columbia university, Manhattan School of Music, Barnard college or Teachers college.

But since the rentals here are quite competitive, some students choose to live in Washington Heights which is in the northern part of Manhattan.

For even more reduced rent, a quiet neighborhood, more space and scenic pathways, consider Inwood in the northern-most tip of Manhattan. It’s made up of many hills and there are no skyscrapers here, only 5 or 6 story buildings. Inwood is surrounded the Hudson and Harlem river on two sides and has a large Inwood HillPark which runs to about 196 acres.

Commute to midtown and the rest of Manhattan is very easy with the 1 and A subway trains. The best part about Inwood is that the rents are much lower here than upper Manhattan and a quieter neighborhood is also great for studying for long hours.

Popular Brooklyn Colleges and Rentals

Brooklyn has 3 CUNY colleges and there are many colleges in the northern part of Brooklyn including the CUNY College of Technology, Pratt Institute, College of New Rochelle and many more.

Bushwick and the surrounding areas of Bed-Stuy, Williamsburg and Ridgewood provide affordable Brooklyn rentals. These are connected by the N, Q and 7 subway lines to northern Brooklyn colleges, southern parts of Manhattan and Queens.

Popular Bronx Colleges and Rentals

Fordham university, 1 CUNY college, Mercy college and Monroe college are among the major colleges located in Bronx. The Fordham area is covered by the D and 4 lines and touches the 2 and 5 lines in southern part of Bronx which further lead to the entire western and eastern stretches of Manhattan. Mercy college is closer to the 5 subway line.

How Do People Afford College In NYC?

There are families who plan ahead and move to New York state during the middle school or upon starting high school, just so their kids can study in one of New York city’s colleges with in-state tuition.

Moreover, New York is one of the select states that provides free college tuition to its residents for both the 2-year associate and the 4-year bachelors degree. As a condition for the free tuition, students are required to work in New York for a certain number of years after graduating college.

There are other students who move to New York city for their college upon gaining admission to one of its colleges. New York has always attracted people young and old due to its size, amenities and a number of good colleges.

When students come to New York city for college, they may not get the resident-only Excelsior scholarship but they can still qualify for federal scholarships. So many out-of-state students do their college in NYC after getting a federal scholarship.

Since scholarships only cover the tuition in most cases, students either take up parttime employment, get student loans or have their parents pay for their room and board expenses.

How Can College Students Afford Rent?

College students afford rent by either having their parents pay their rental expenses, or by getting a parttime job. If you are already living with your parents in New York city, it would be best to continue to live with your parents during college to avoid the additional rental expenses. Then once you graduate college, feel free to move to your own independent accommodation.

As an out-of-state student in New York city, the best way to afford rent is to either live in a dorm, or with roommates in student-friendly off-campus housing. You can choose to rent one bedroom in a 2, 3 or 4 bedroom apartment.

It will help if the utilities are covered in the rent since heating and electricity costs can add up significantly in New York city. It is best if these utility costs are part of your monthly rent so you don’t have any sudden surprises when the utility bills arrive. This will ensure that your monthly bills are more predictable and manageable.

Moreover, managing multiple utility bills such as water, gas, electricity, internet and phone can be very confusing for a young student and its best left in the hands of the landlord to manage.

To keep living expenses lower, students can benefit greatly by limiting their eating out and by having simple meals at home or in their shared apartment. Though all the fancy restaurants in New York city might appear very appealing, it’s best for students to stick with home-cooked meals and spend money eating out only after starting their first employment after college.

Try to shop in Walmart for food and other household expenses, furniture, stationary supplies and so on. This can further minimize your living expenses. There are over 30 Walmart stores in Manhattan and many stores in Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens.

Is New York good for students?

It is best to study in New York if you and your family are residents of New York city. Then you will be eligible for the New York Excelsior scholarship that will cover your entire tuition at a 2-year or 4-year college.

It is always best to plan ahead during your school years such that you maintain residency in the same state where you intend to start college. Otherwise, you can still qualify for the federal financial aid but will have to pay out-of-state tuition and will not receive the New York state scholarship.

How do students prove income?

Students can show the income of their parents via letters from their parents’ employers. Or else they can show portions of their family’s tax returns or pay slips as proof of family income. In case the student is working parttime, s/he can also show their own pay stubs or bank statement.

Scholarship award letters or student loan documents can also be used if you’re unable to show sufficient family income or your own income.

How much does it cost to study in NYC?

The cost of college in NYC can vary greatly with CUNY and SUNY being the most affordable with annual tuition of about $7,000. Private colleges charge anywhere from about $40,000 or above with NYU’s annual 2020-21 tuition being about $54,000.

So it all depends on whether the student chooses a public or private college; college expenses can increase considerably if the student attends a private college.

Added to the tuition are other college fees, room and board expenses, meals, books & supplies, and transportation. Most CUNY and SUNY students live at home and therefore they do not have to spend extra for room and board or their meals.

But for students who are living in a dorm or off-campus housing in New York city, the rental and related expenses can add up to an additional $12,000 to $15,000 per year. This is for a room with a bed and desk in a college dorm, or a room in a shared off-campus apartment.


1) NYC Map of Colleges and Universities

2) New York City Map

3) NYC Subway Map

4) Morningside Heights, Manhattan on Wikipedia

5) Inwood, NYC on StreetEasy

6) CUNY: Comparing College Costs

7) CUNY and SUNY Free Tuition

8) The Guarantors: Finding Student Housing in NYC

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