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One way to save money on your first NYC apartment: Resign yourself to the laundromat.

Even though apartment prices are dropping across Brooklyn and Manhattan, affordable homes are as in demand and as hard to find as ever — especially if you are a first-time home buyer. While the art of finding a deal is best discussed with a knowledgeable buyer’s broker, there are some key ways to save money while meeting most of your standards for a new home. Let’s review some big-ticket items worth compromising on to reduce the cost of your first apartment in Brooklyn or Manhattan.

Skip the Elevator

Elevator buildings always command a premium with prices reflecting the convenience the amenity brings to the equation. Many 4- to 6-story walk-up buildings, however, were built before elevators became commonplace. Some smaller, recently constructed buildings are designed without them, likely to increase the usable square footage. Needless to say, a property without an elevator will save you some serious cash.

Neighborhoods with older housing stock in Brooklyn such as Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Park Slope and Bed-Stuy are characterized by smaller apartment buildings. Although some will have elevators, you will find a high share of walk-ups there, too. In Manhattan, consider the Lower East Side and East Village for walk-up apartments.

Opt for a Virtual Doorman

While there are many benefits to living in a doorman building, they will have higher monthlies and generally higher sales prices on a price-per-square-foot basis. But, there are alternatives to a traditional doorman service, such as a virtual doorman, which allows a remote concierge to accept packages and let people into the building. Anytime you replace physical labor with something more automated, you will reduce costs.

Uptown neighborhoods including Lenox Hill, Lincoln Square and the Upper East and West Sides are known for their doorman buildings, but over in Brooklyn it is far less common to find a doorman building. If you are considering going sans doorman, try Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn or Williamsburg.

Settle for In-Building Laundry

An in-unit washer and dryer is a luxury that many buyers seek out and pay a premium for. If you are okay with either doing laundry in the building laundry room or sending it out to the cleaners, you’ll save yourself some money on the purchase price. You may also be able to buy an apartment where the plumbing is present to install a washer and dryer at a later date, which gives you the opportunity to increase your property value.

Keep Your Gym Membership

Buildings are often able to add premiums to their apartment sales prices by having luxury amenities like fitness centers, lounges and so forth. By avoiding a building that has a gym, and instead choosing to join a local one, you’ll position yourself to save money on the purchase. Rooftop decks and outdoor space also fall into this category. Buyers love being able to throw outdoor parties and see the city skyline, and while those certainly are nice, they’ll naturally mean a higher sales price.

Live 5 to 10 Blocks From the Action

Access to restaurants, bars and cafes is essential to enjoying life in NYC. However, the closer you are to the best neighborhood block, the more you’re going to pay for it. On the flip side, if you are still within close proximity to the main thoroughfare, you’ll have access to it, benefit from lower prices, and position yourself have your apartment value increase as surrounding streets continue transitioning. The same can be said for popular subway stops. The longer a walk to the train you can endure, the lower the property price.


While it’s not possible to quantify how much money you’ll be able to save with each of these compromises, it’s helpful to be aware of them as opportunities to save money on your first apartment. Not all of these may be compromises you’re willing to make, and that’s okay. The key is identifying an apartment that is comfortable, serves your needs, and fits within your means.

[This post has been updated and republished.]

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