rental guides

The Affordable West Village Apartment: Is There Such Thing?

For the new arrival or the uninitiated, The West Village area of Manhattan is one of (if not the most) coveted areas in NYC to live in. Take any tourist or new arrival for a walk down West 4th Street and the reaction is always the same: “oh, wow, I’d love to live here.”

The West Village rests in the spot in the northwest section of downtown Manhattan from 6th Avenue to the Hudson River and stretches from Houston Street up to 14th Street. Its unique design and charm is due to its origin as a small Dutch enclave built in the 1600s – and resembles the quaint look and ambiance of Amsterdam. Built “pre-Grid”, the West Village streets are a jumbled cross-hatch of thin tree-lined cobblestone streets lined with one of a kind small six-story walkups and larger dwellings all capped by height zone restrictions. Having never been “updated” to the more Germanic grid system of the rest of the city, the West Village maintains its old world charm and individuality – and hence is extremely popular.

Back in the 60s and 70s, the West Village reigned as an enclave for artists, writers and bohemians – it’s the place where Bob Dylan made his mark and the Gay counterculture found its footing during the Stonewall riot uprising. This rich romanticized history drew a more affluent population to the area in the early 80s and soon the entire area become overrun with professionals, marketing industry types and fashionistas. With the incredible popularity of TV shows like “Friends” and “Sex In the City” that took place in the West Village and provided some national iconography, the hood became a beacon for younger and older natives looking to immerse themselves in its rich history and culture.

As a result, the West Village has grown to become one of the most expensive places to live- and finding an affordable rental unit has turned into virtual blood sport.

The prevailing question is: is there such thing as an affordable West Village Apartment? And if so, How do I get one?

As the majority of West Village rentals do not have doormen, it is hard to do the rogue door-to-door method that works in newly developed areas – and doormen in the village are far more accustomed to people walking in and inquiring about vacancies. Some newer buildings have baked-in management companies who represent the actual property and provide this service – but the reality is that any newer fully equipped apartment building of this type that is in the West Village is very likely to be a premium property best suited for celebrities, fashion moguls, finance kingpins or trust fund kids.

The “affordable” apartments in the West Village (and even Chelsea for that matter) are going to be single entry, 6-story walk-up units that make up the bulk of the buildings in the area. Sometimes you will see an “apartments for rent” sign on the front of the building or on the fire escapes. In these instances, you should take down the number and give it a try. These signs are either placed by a broker who is managing the rentals of the building, or by the owner. Sometimes it will indicate “by owner”, but most of the time it won’t.

Aside from knowing someone personally who lives in the Village area and has told you exclusively or through a friend that they have an apartment on the market, the best and most reliable way to find a solid, trustworthy and reliable deal is to use a rental broker.

The internet is of course the first place to shop. The reality is that any truly good apartment is going to be a hot item and typically more than one broker will have access to the listing –which makes it a really a marketing battle on the part of the broker. In some cases, the owner has enlisted an exclusive broker that he wants to represent the building. And these are best scenarios for potential renters as they are will be so-called no-fee or low-fee apartments. There is no broker competition, the exclusive broker has established and gained trust from the landlord (which indicates reliability and consistency) and the apartments in these types of arrangements tend to be of higher quality and are less fraudulent (place a listing of a “ghost” apartment simply to attract potential renters). So you get more for your money. Also, exclusive brokers make the byzantine and complex renting process easier as they are directly connected to the owner.

If you are looking for a dream place in the West Village and you don’t know anyone personally unloading an apartment, find an Exclusive Broker and Landlord situation for the most reliable and highest quality rental experience.