Though New York’s been winning the baseball rivalry between the Mets and the Phillies lately, when it comes to bargains on rental apartments, Philadelphia comes out on top.
New York City neighborhoods considered working-class only a decade or two ago now out price apartments in some of Philadelphia’s poshest sections, according to data provided by NeighborhoodX, a real estate research and analytics start-up.
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For instance, the median monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in gentrifying but still-gritty Long Island City in Queens was $2,900, well above the $1,900 figure for Philadelphia’s long-fashionable Rittenhouse Square and Logan Square residential districts. Comparable neighborhoods where New York’s elite might be drawn are Manhattan’s Upper West Side, with a median one-bedroom rent of $3,600, or classic brownstone Brooklyn Heights, where one-bedroom rents average $3,100.
For those seeking a neighborhood with a young, creative vibe, New York’s traditional answer has been the East Village, with Williamsburg gaining street cred the last 20 years. In Philadelphia, there’s Fishtown. This working-class neighborhood of narrow streets and row houses has sprouted studios, galleries, bars, restaurants and music venues. While the median one-bedroom in Fishtown rents for $1,600, those apartments in Williamsburg and the East Village go for the non-bohemian figures of $3,200 and $2,900 respectively. Fishtown is even a bargain compared to Staten Island's St. George area, where the ferry docks and median one bedrooms go for $1,800 a month.
Demand is a factor in NYC’s pricey pads. New York is growing much faster than the City of Brotherly Love. In two decades New York’s population rose by 1.2 million people to 8.55 million in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In the same time, Philadelphia’s population rose by 71,000 to 1.57 million. Put another way, New York City added enough people to fill up three-quarters of Philadelphia.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t relative bargains in New York, only that they are further from Midtown’s jobs, the city’s cultural attractions and even basic amenities, such as supermarkets.
Mott Haven in the Bronx is one such area, where a median one-bedroom goes for $1,500 a month. Much of the housing is in tenements and New York City public housing developments. But Mott Haven also has three historic residential districts and some sections of the neighborhood are showing signs of gentrification. Housing is being renovated and new shops opening, including that harbinger of change, gourmet coffee shops. Two opened since April.
One needn’t go so far, nor do without as much, in Pennsylvania’s biggest city. The median one-bedroom rents for $1,100 in Spruce Hill, a neighborhood just west of University City, a cluster of academic institutions which includes the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania.