Move over Brooklyn – Queens is the new king

What happens when a borough has been up and coming for so long it’s now up and come? Simple, people start looking elsewhere for cheap rents. This being New York, ‘cheap’ is a relative term, of course.

These are the average Q4 monthly roommate rents for the NYC boroughs (we left Staten Island out because so few people live with roommates there there’s not enough data).

Bronx – $810
Brooklyn – $1,066
Manhattan – $1,493
Queens – $927

…and here’s how much they went up from Q4 2014 to Q4 2015

Bronx – 3.4%
Brooklyn – 1.1%
Manhattan – 7%
Queens – 13.6%

That’s right, Queens is leading the way when it comes to rent increases. Does that mean Brooklyn has finally up and come? Quite possibly.

Queens is also the only borough other than Manhattan to appear in the top 10 most expensive zips to live in in the city. Even in the top 25 only two are non-Manhattan – Long Island City at #3 and Brooklyn’s 11249 zip at #23 (which is ironic, given the fuss when 11249 split from 11211, citing artistic differences).

Here are the 25 most expensive zips to rent a room in New York, with average monthly rents.

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So, shall we all move to Queens?

What’s SpeedRoommating about?

SpeedRoommating. Such a good idea, right?! It’s really popular among New Yorkers but if you haven’t been before, and don’t know what to expect, rocking up to one of Brooklyn or Manhattan’s coolest hangouts on your own might be a bit daunting. That’s why we’re here with a lowdown so you know exactly what to expect once you’ve signed up!

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Where and when is it?

The events are free and run every Wednesday from 7pm until 9pm. Each week you’ll either find us at Fada in Brooklyn or in Revival in Manhattan – we alternate each week. Here’s the schedule so you know where to find us for the next month.

What happens when I arrive?

When you arrive you’ll see the SpeedRoommating check-in desk, where you’ll be greeted by our lovely hosts David and Heloise. There’s normally a small line of people signing in so you’ll soon spot us!

When you get to the desk, you’ll need to sign in and collect your name badge.

If you’re looking for a room, you’ll be given a pink sticker to fill in with your name, where you want to live and your rent budget. If you have a room, you’ll get a white sticker to complete with your name, your location and what rent you charge. Once you’re done you place your sticker on your jacket and you’re ready to SpeedRoommate!

SRM i have a roomSRM I need a roomOh and there’s one other thing – often at the events there are more people looking for rooms than there are people who have rooms (of course there are, we’re in New York City!) so you can also collect a ‘Buddy Up’ sticker.

buddy up

Everyone wearing a ‘Buddy Up’ is willing to team up with other people looking for rooms, perhaps with a similar budget or location, to find a whole property together. So if you don’t find someone with a room, chances are you’ll meet some likeminded people who are looking for rooms, just like you.

Then what?

Once they’ve got their sticker, most people head to the bar to order a drink before mingling and working the room.

When you meet people, you’ll discuss the apartment, the location and the room – you can even share your respective ads on your mobile or tablet. Don’t forget to talk about yourselves too – your working hours, hobbies, likes and dislikes any house rules etc. It’s best to share as much info at this stage to avoid wasting time when viewing the apartment later.

If you meet a potential roommate

If you find someone you click with and their preferences match yours, the next step is to arrange a viewing; book a time and go from there.

If you don’t find anyone suitable on the night keep checking SpareRoom – new ads are posted all the time – and, of course, sign up to our next event.

How many people will be there?

There are usually between 40 and 50 people at each event. There tend to be more people looking for rooms than offering, which is why the Buddy Up option is popular.

Why does SpareRoom run these events?

It’s not always easy to get to know someone properly online or in a quick room viewing. Having a casual chat with someone in a bar is a far more natural way to get to know them and find out if you’re going to get along. It’s also far less intimidating than going into a stranger’s home.

At SpeedRoommating you can spend 20 seconds or 20 minutes with someone – that way you’re not wasting your time chatting to people you don’t want to live with.

Even if you’ve already found someone on SpareRoom, or another site, you can always suggest meeting at SpeedRoommating. It’s a safe, relaxed environment and you don’t have to give out your mobile number or email if you don’t want to.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up to our next free event now!

NY roommate stories: Meet vintage-loving roommate, Morgan Elias

We recently met with Morgan Elias, one of the founders of The Vintage Twin.

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As well as selling some gorgeously chic vintage items, Morgan and her sister are part of Vitamin Water’s Project Hustle and they’re no strangers to press attention too.

During our catch up we talked sisters, New York City and roommates, of course. Here’s how the interview went:

SR: Hey Morgan! We love seeing what you and your sister are up to! Speaking of your sister… You guys are twins, which basically means you’ve had a “roommate” before you were even born! Have you ever lived alone?
ME: Indeed, I had a womb-mate! I’ve lived in NYC for about 5 years and I’ve had amazing roommates the whole time. This city can be intimidating so having someone to come home to is really comforting.

SR: Over at The Vintage Twin, you and your team specialize in taking unique, slightly used clothing and personalizing them, as recently seen in the NY Post. Can any of this be applied to a home or apartment?
ME: Absolutely! We ‘rework’ peoples’ apartments the same way we do clothes.People email us photos of their apartments all the time and we respond with vintage furniture (couches, chairs from the 80’s, art, accents – you name it!) and treasures we’ve collected over time and deliver right to their apt! Check out the ‘living’ section on our site.

SR: Project Hustle is a pretty rad concept. Do you think living in NYC brings out the hustle in you?
ME: Of course! If you’re living in NYC and you’re not hustling, there’s something wrong. NYC is a tough city and if you don’t grind to be here you can’t really appreciate what I consider the true essence of this gritty city.

SR: What springs to mind when you think of a good roommate?
ME: Cookies

SR: We like your style! What comes to mind when you think of a bad roommate?
ME: Dirty laundry

SR: Being a proud member of the LGBTQ community, how important is it you that you live in a progressive city like NYC?
ME: It’s very very important for me and for most members of the LGBTQ community to live somewhere it’s acceptable to be yourself. I can’t imagine the struggles of people who live in more close-minded places.

SR: Let’s talk about your pooch, Gus. Do you think pets make good roommates?
ME: Well I wouldn’t really consider Gus a pet… he is more like a child. But, I know what you mean, and YES! Pets are the best roommates, I love to come home to him!

SR: Do you have any advice for young people who are just moving to NYC?
ME: Be you! You’re moving to the best, most eclectic, most electric city in the world! Now is your time to shine. Don’t be discouraged, there’s a ton of trial and error – and A LOT of error. Remind yourself that you’re doing great but don’t forget you’re living in one of the most competitive cities in the world!

Follow Morgan on Twitter
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Don’t forget, if you’re looking for a room or roommate in NYC, visit SpareRoom.com and start your search today.

NY roommate stories: Sophie Sumner

sophie-sumnerLast week SpareRoom was lucky enough to find the always busy, ever working, Sophie Sumner with some downtime.

Sophie is known for many talents, including winning America’s Next Top Model (Cycle 18), starring in E4’s Taking Manhattan and hosting Music Choice’s The Weekend Countdown, but we wanted to get her take on living and apartment sharing in NYC.

Let’s jump right in:

SR: How would you describe your ideal rooming situation?
SS: Just somewhere with good people who love my pooch!

SR: Having done Top Model twice, can you give us some insight on what it’s like to live with that many girls at once?
SS: Oh my gosh, when we first entered the house, the places were always SPOTLESS! I swear within a couple of days, it was like walking into the aftermath of a huge party!

I don’t know if I could ever live with that many girls again… a lot of squawking and a lot of hair!! But I love being around people and it was great to get to know so many different characters.

In America’s Next Top Model the toilets had no doors so we couldn’t slam them… THINK about that!!!

SR: How was it having Tyra Banks as a landlord?
SS: When she came over the house was spotless and we were like little angels!

SR: You’ve lived in London, LA, Manila and NYC AND traveled to countless other cities. What is the one thing that sets New York apart from the rest?
SS: The pace. There is always something to do and somewhere to be.

Home is so important in NY; it’s a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle, also for some rather odd reason New Yorkers are obsessed with other people’s apartments and how much rent they pay!

In England it’s all about the weather, in LA it’s all about the traffic and in the Philippines its all about the food, but New York its all about the rent!

SR: Have you ever lived alone?
SS: I had a studio once, but I don’t think that would ever count as living alone, I was either never there or I had slumber parties!!

SR: Did you find there were any downsides to living alone?
SS: No one to play with!

SR: Do you have any horror stories about living with someone?
SS: The hair in the Top Model house, it was like a leach, hair just got EVERYWHERE. There was tons of it; it was another roommate.

SR: Currently, you are hosting Music Choice’s The Weekend Countdown… Starting from 5, will you kindly countdown the attributes you look for in a roommate? (5 being least important 1 being most)

SS:

5. A roomie that loves Seamless as much as I do.
4. A roommate that buys lots of ice cream.
3. A roomie that loves my new pup, Peach!
2. A social roommate; I love having a house full of people.
1. Ease, someone I can just have fun with and chill out watch rubbish TV and have a laugh.

SR: Your current roommate, Jackie Reyes, was a pro ballerina for several years. Do you find yourselves having impromptu dance sessions very often?
SS: Haha! When she gets excited she sometimes flicks her leg up to her ear, it really makes me laugh… Jacks is an amazing roommate – I wish everyone was lucky enough to have a Jacks in their home!

SR: Lastly, do you have any have advice for people first moving to NYC?
SS: Find a neighborhood that suits you. There is one for every personality; every neighborhood has its quirks and community feel. I think SpareRoom is such a great resource for finding quality people in such a fast paced city.

Follow Sophie on Twitter
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If you’re looking for a room or a roommate in NYC, visit SpareRoom.com and start your search today.

NY roommate stories: An interview with Laura Ellner

We recently had the chance to sit down with Laura Ellner, creator of popular fashion blog OnTheRacks, to discuss her thoughts on rooming in NYC. Laura, a native of Orange County, California, lived in New York City for four years before recently moving to Paris. Here’s what she had to say about living and roommating in one of the world’s most exciting cities.

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SR: Laura, you’ve been subject to a variety of roommate situations since you first moved away to college at the University of San Francisco; of these scenarios, which was your favorite and why?

LE: I’d have to say that my most ideal roommate situation was my last in NYC. I lived with the amazingly talented Gigi Burris (Gigi is a celebrated milliner in NYC) in a great Lower East Side apartment. It was my favorite roommate situation because Gigi and I weren’t really friends before I moved in. A mutual friend introduced us when I was looking for a new spot and Gigi was looking to fill an empty room. This worked so well because we had a friendly and respectful coexistence without the pressure of being best friends and roommates. It’s great when you find someone you can live with while still maintaining separate lives.

Laura Ellner

Here’s Laura

SR: You’ve recently moved from New York to Paris. What, if anything, did New York teach you?

LE: NYC has been an amazing place for me to grow professionally and personally. New York taught me to be strong, showed me that I’m a lot tougher than I thought and gave me a newfound understanding of the word “hustle”. Above all, I think that living in the city that never sleeps gave me the wisdom to be flexible, because, in New York City, you never know what’s gonna happen next.

SR: What advice would you give someone who’s looking for a roommate in New York?

LE: Honestly, I wish I had known about SpareRoom when I was looking for a roommate. In fact, I can’t believe that more people don’t know about the SpeedRoommating events you guys offer… what a great idea!

SR: Do you see yourself moving back to NYC in the future?

LE: I’m not sure. There are so many reasons to love that city but I feel like there is so much for me to experience outside of the Five Boroughs. The thing about New York is that it will always be there, waiting to turn your life upside down.

SR: Last question, if you could have anyone for a roommate who would it be and why?

LE: Ooh, that’s a tough one. I’d have to say Elizabeth Taylor. And why? Why not! She was so fancy and classy. Could you imagine the parties we’d have? And, of course, we’d get to share clothes!

You can find Laura on Instagram at ontheracks. Whilst you’re at it, follow us at SpareRoomNYC – see you there!

If you’re looking for a room or a roommate in NYC, visit SpareRoom.com and start your search today.

Roommate stories – the crazy good and the crazy bad

SpareRoom’s mission is to help you find the perfect roommate. So when we found out someone had written a book on it we wanted to know more. Meet Stephanie Wu, author of The Roommates: True Tales of Friendship, Rivalry, Romance, and Disturbingly Close Quarters, here’s what she had to say to our burning questions.

“cohabitation can…lead to lifelong friendships, and in some case romance and business partnerships. So if you can take the bad with the good, incredible things can happen”

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How on earth did you get so interested in roommates?
My interest in roommates started as most people’s do—by living with them for the majority of my life, starting from summer camp as a teen and throughout college and my post-grad years. But it wasn’t until I started interviewing people for my book, The Roommates: True Tales of Friendship, Rivalry, Romance, and Disturbingly Close Quarters, that I truly realized how lucky I’ve been in terms of roommates. While I did have my share of roommate disagreements and miscommunications throughout summer camp and college, my stories didn’t come close to those of the brave souls I interviewed—from multiple-personality disorder to epic romance to identity fraud.

There are so many TV shows and movies about life with roommates. What is it about cohabitation that breeds great stories?
Sharing a living space is a particularly ripe situation for incredible stories—it’s the entire premise for reality TV shows like The Real World and Jersey Shore. While doing research for my book, it became evident that when you share an apartment—a bathroom, a kitchen, or even a bedroom—with someone, you truly get to know one another on a different level. Random tiffs can get amplified into full-blown fights, and even small amounts of passive-aggressiveness can add up to something explosive. But cohabitation can also lead to lifelong friendships, and in some cases romance and business partnerships. So if you can take the bad with the good, incredible things can happen as well.

The anthology makes a great little handbook for new graduates heading into their first roommate situation. What are the top take-aways from the book?
My book showcases both the best of the best and the worst of the worst—in other words, extreme roommate situations. Part of the takeaway, I hope, is that readers might discover their current living situations aren’t as bad as they seem. But also, many of the stories follow the evolution of a blow-out, or how a roommate relationship disintegrated. There are tons of warning signs early on, so it’s a good reminder not to let little things fester.

How about big “watch outs” to be sure you don’t end up with the roommate from hell?
Trust is a big thing. If you have a roommate that lies to you, even about tiny things like when they came home or whether they were smoking, it’s a sign of dishonesty—and potential disaster down the road. And of course, expectations when it comes to personal hygiene. If both you and your roommate are clean freaks, or if you’re both okay with occasional dust bunnies and dishes in the sink, that tends to work out well. It’s when you have opposing views of what makes for a comfortable living situation that can lead to trouble.

Speaking of roommates from hell, what’s the craziest story you came across that didn’t make it into the book?

It’s safe to say that the craziest stories all made it into the book, but I did take out a few due to repetition—there was a surprising amount of overlap when it came to recreational drug-related situations, thievery, and alcohol-fuelled shenanigans. And of course, I’ve heard a lot of additional crazy stories since my book came out, so I know there will be plenty of material should I ever work on a sequel!

Finally, if you could give just one piece of advice to help make a roommate situation work, what would that be?
Be upfront. Whether it’s about a certain way you like to have things (even if it’s as small as the way the toilet paper hangs) or a certain habit your roommate has that keeps you up at night, the earlier it’s addressed, in an open and candid way, the better.

Do you have a crazy good or crazy bad roommate story to share? Tell us. You never know, yours could be material for Roommates, the sequel!

The Roommates is available at Barnes and Noble. If you’re planning to apartment-share for the foreseeable future, it’s well worth a read!

Roommate fibs: The lies people tell to get that room

The competition for great apartment shares can be intense. After all, when you’re trying to “win” at the roommate competition, you want people to like you.

So it’s not surprising that people opt to tell a little white lie – or two – to help secure a dream apartment share.

We asked SpareRoom users how they may have “misled” their roommates to score the room they want. Not surprisingly, the most common fibs were about house clutter:

• 36% of roommates admit to lying about being neat and tidy

• 21% have said they’re easy going about clutter when really they aren’t

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The good news is prospective roommates are far less likely to lie about house etiquette. In fact, only one in 10 admit to having lied about:

• taking long showers on busy weekday mornings

• finishing the milk (without replacing it)

• being loud and inconsiderate when getting in late after a night of bar-hopping

While annoying, these habits are a lot less concerning than lies about financial habits. Worryingly, 9% lie about paying their bills on time, which could be grounds for serious problems in the apartment-sharing world.

The best approach when you are looking for new roommates is to be yourself – you’ll have more luck landing a comfortable, long-term situation if you’re open and honest about your lifestyle. Besides, remembering lies is hard, and living up to them even harder.

Have you ever told a tall tale to secure an apartment share or encourage a potential roommate to move in with you? Was it worth it, or did you end up trying to be someone you’re not?

Ain’t nothing going up but the rent

How much did your rent increase this year? If it was less than 3.75%, you’re doing better than many of your neighbors.

We looked at more than 1,400 SpareRoom ads for Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens posted during the first three months of 2015 and 2014 and found that the average annual rent increase was 3.8%. (We didn’t have quite enough data for Bronx and Staten Island as most people tend to move later in the year – see our Moving Day blog for more on that.)

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Here are some interesting tidbits from our analysis:

While Manhattan remains the most expensive borough for room hunters with an average room rent of $1,415, Brooklyn is catching up. It led the pack with an overall increase of 4.5% — across 586 listings — for an average rent of $1,060.

The 689 listings in Manhattan showed an average increase of just a little over 3% from the first quarter of 2014.

With 159 postings, rental rates in Queens increased almost 4% to an average $864, still considerably lower than the other two boroughs.

Averages, however, can be misleading and hide big hikes in certain areas. Rents in Greenwich Village, the highest in the city, were up almost 30% compared with year ago, and certain in-demand Brooklyn neighborhoods like Ditmas Park, Prospect Park South and Windsor Terrace were up 28%.

We’re also seeing a significant increase in the number of people advertising rooms on SpareRoom – up more than 84% during January-March of this year compared with the same period in 2014. This is great news for people looking for apartment shares as more rooms mean greater choice.

And that’s increasingly important, given the high cost of living alone in New York City. Brick Underground recently reported that it takes a salary of at least $96,000 to live solo in one of these three boroughs.

The journalist calculated that, using standard salary requirements, someone has to make $102,360 to live solo in a studio apartment in Manhattan and $137,080 for a one-bedroom. The numbers are a bit lower – but not much — for Brooklyn and Queens. Daunting isn’t it? Read more here.

Moving Day in New York

Are you moving apartments on Friday? If so, you’re honoring tradition.

Up until shortly after World War II, May 1 was known as Moving Day. It was the day when all apartment rental leases in NYC expired and renters moved their possessions to their new homes.

It followed Rent Day, which fell on February 1, when New York landlords would give their tenants notice of how much the rent was going to increase beginning May 1. Often, tenants would be unhappy with the proposed increases, so they’d go looking for a better offer elsewhere.

After looking for and settling on a new rental during spring, everyone would move on the same day — May 1, Moving Day. You can imagine the streets, jammed with people lugging boxes.

may-day

The tradition disbanded after the Second World War because there simply weren’t enough able-bodied men to help the million New Yorkers move from apartment to apartment.

So though there’s not been a moving day in many moons – SpareRoom data tells us that if we had one, it would be September 23. These days, the busiest months for New Yorkers to move apartments are August and September, with September 23 being the zenith.

Moving can often be a stressful affair — how would you feel if we all had to do it on the same day?

New York – city of song

I can’t think of another city that inspires as much music as New York. Whether that’s songs about the city or music that was born in New York, wherever you go in the world you’ll hear a little bit of NYC blaring out of the speakers before too long.

Ask anyone who has even a passing interest in music and they’ll be able to name you a song or two. How about Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York or Ella Fitzgerald singing Manhattan? Prefer something a bit more modern – maybe Jay-Z with Alicia Keys and Empire State of Mind? You want festive – Fairytale of New York; melancholy – Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel No.2; punk – where do I start!

But what does New York music mean to you? A golden age of jazz, CBGB’s, the birth of hip hop? Something else?

Here are three of my personal favorites.

Magnetic Fields – The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side

Ryan Adams – New York, New York

Punch Brothers – New York City

OK, now it’s your turn. Add your top New York song(s) in the comments.

If you’re looking for a little inspiration then here’s a (huge) list of New York songs from Wikipedia. Need a little more structure? Try Time Out’s top 100 New York songs.

OK….go!

Matt