In New York, Roommates Make a Comeback


“I had a listing on the Upper East Side — an $1,800 studio in a doorman building, which would normally be very coveted, but this year was really hard to fill,” Ms. Hale said. “The apartments that are renting right now are one-bedrooms for couples or two-bedrooms for roommates.”

Indeed, while rental prices have dropped across all categories, studios have had some of the biggest decreases. The average price for a Manhattan studio dropped 13.8 percent, to $2,456, in September 2020 from the same month last year, according to a market report from Douglas Elliman. Manhattan two-bedrooms, on the other hand, were down 4.2 percent year-over-year, with an average rent of $4,817.

The desire for roommate camaraderie is such that Melinda Sicari, an associate broker with Douglas Elliman, has not only seen a lot of people moving from studios into two-bedroom shares, but also high demand for five- and six-bedroom apartments with prices that pencil out, per room, to roughly the same as smaller, traditionally more popular shares.

“I’ve been surprised by the traffic on larger apartments,” she said. “Being alone for months, not going into an office, people got really lonely.”

This summer, Chris Hattar and five roommates moved into a six-bedroom financial district share, one of Ms. Sicari’s listings.

Before the pandemic, Mr. Hattar, 24, had been living with two of the same roommates in a Murray Hill flex two-bedroom, with a third bedroom created from a partial wall in the living room. Three other friends from Williams College lived upstairs in a similar setup. The friends from the two apartments would often socialize on weekends, but after coronavirus, neither half-sized living room was an ideal venue for socializing or working.


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