NEW YORK CITY — The coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of life, including where and how people live.
A new study from Apartments.com shows New York City tenants’ desires have changed over the course of the pandemic, and they are now on the hunt for more spacious and affordable apartments that better accommodate working from home.
One thing that could be to blame, according to Apartments.com data, is that tenants are moving out of smaller, costlier units and instead searching for larger living spaces that are better suited to multi-family living scenarios and work-from-home jobs.
Online search data backs up the suspicion — at the onset of the pandemic, searches for apartments in Manhattan fell while those in other boroughs rose.
An Apartments.com analysis suggests Manhattan residents in March were looking to leave the city’s densest areas while still staying nearby.
As the pandemic continued in June and July, however, search trends changed again.
By the peak of summer, searches for apartments in less dense areas outside of New York City — including in Long Island, Miami, Atlanta and Honolulu — had increased by as much as 86 percent in some cities.
Searches for apartments in cities like Chicago, San Francisco and Boston also decreased in the same timeframe, suggesting renters are less inclined to live in dense cities with higher costs of living during the pandemic.
Searches for Manhattan apartments did rebound after the summer months but remained below pre-pandemic levels. Data suggests the rebound in Manhattan searches coincided with the city’s slow reopening.
Perhaps another driver of the Manhattan rebound is concessions, which rose nationwide in October.
Some 36 percent of apartment buildings in New York City last month offered one or more concessions, up significantly from 17 percent in October 2019. The data shows 23 percent of apartment buildings in the city offer one or more concessions beyond a free month’s rent.
“Heavy discounting has almost certainly played a role in preventing an even more pronounced exodus,” an Apartments.com spokesperson said.
All told, the cost of rent in the city fell in 2020 by 2.8 percent after growing year-over-year by 1.8 percent, the study shows. It now stands at an average of $2,710.
Rents ranged in the greater New York City metro area from $7,625 on the high end in Central Park West to as little as $1,202 in Downtown Toms River, New Jersey.
Some of the most affordable places to live, with rents below $1,400 on average, are in neighborhoods in Coney Island, Wakefield, South Shore and Fordham Heights in New York and Mount Eden, Passaic, Neptune City, Wanamassa, Eastside Passaic and Toms River in New Jersey, the study shows.