Here’s what you need to know about New York apartment types
If you’ve set your sights on living in NYC, then it’s a good idea to learn the basic terms associated with renting or buying an apartment here. I’ve compiled a basic guide to New York apartment types, because other than studio, one bedroom and two bedroom, I had never heard of most of these phrases when I moved to NYC over a decade ago. I hope these NYC apartment terms come in handy and help you navigate the real estate market in New York City.
One room, which could have a kitchen as part of the room or in a separate space, and a bathroom. Studios in New York tend to run small, like 300 square feet, although smaller is possible. Larger studios often do well with room dividers to separate a living area from a sleeping area.
It’s just at is sounds – a studio or one room with an alcove. Often these apartments are L-shaped, but don’t have to be. The alcove usually can hold a twin or double bed and perhaps a dresser. An alcove studio is often a luxury because a single person can keep their bedroom separate from their living room. If a separate sleeping area isn’t needed, the alcove can make a great dining room or office, or for fashionistas, a really great closet. 🙂
This is a studio with an additional room or nook. Sometimes doors close, sometimes there’s no door at all, and typically no window (so it cannot legally be called a bedroom). Junior One apartments provide a small bedroom or sleep area, and are generally less expensive than real one bedroom apartments.
This one speaks for itself, although a one-bedroom in New York is often tinier than a one-bedroom in most other cities.
Junior 4 (also called a Flex 2 or Convertible 2)
When a one bedroom apartment has an extra nook or space and can be separated by a wall to create another room to be used as a bedroom, office or den, it’s called a Junior 4. The name reflects the number of rooms in the apartment (after a wall is built). This one if my favorite type of apartment because it’s not too much more expensive than a one-bedroom and can legally (and pretty easily) transform into a two-bedroom.
Most New Yorker’s dream of a owning or renting a (real) two-bedroom apartment, but bear in mind – like one bedroom apartments, two bedrooms in New York City can still be tiny, like 500 or 600 square feet. There must be a window in the space to call it a bedroom, but it could technically be a walk-in closet with a window and brokers will label it as a two-bedroom. Beware. And when you see an affordable price for two-bedroom and it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Here’s how much you need to earn to afford a two-bedroom in NYC.
You’ll hear “Classic Five,” Classic Six,” and so on. Classic refers to buildings built prior to 1940 and usually these apartments feature grand spaces with hardwood floors, high ceilings and beautiful prewar details. The number refers to how many rooms are in the apartment: a Classic Six has six rooms – living room, formal dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms, and a third smaller bedroom that is usually called the maid’s room (was used as such back in the day). Classic Sixes (and Sevens and Eights) remain in high demand for families who can afford them. They are most common on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side, both of which boast a large stock of historic apartment buildings.
You’ve probably spotted NYC loft apartments on the silver screen (lofts are so quintessential New York, they’re often featured in film and TV), but these are some of the most expensive apartments on the market, if they’re on the market at all. In truth, lofts are hard to come by. They were once the location of factories, so in their raw form, they are known to have a warehouse vibe (exposed ductwork and brick, soaring ceilings, massive columns, among other industrial components). Many artists converted abandoned spaces to live-work lofts in the 1970s, but today, lofts are often renovated to feel more residential and less industrial. Most are located in Manhattan neighborhoods like SoHo and TriBeCa as well as parts of Brooklyn. I’ve always dreamed of living in a loft space, but it looks like I’ll have to save that one for my next life. Find out more on lofts here.
Also, a walkup apartment means that there’s no elevator. And a co-op is managed by an agent and board of directors, but owners hold shares and do not own their apartments. The number of shares is based on the size and location of the unit in the building (higher floors warrant more shares). Condops are tricky, but get the lowdown here. And yes, there are condos in NYC but few are prewar – most are shiny glass towers. They are also more expensive per square foot than co-ops.
And know the cost of living before you try and move to New York.
This article is part of a partnership with CubeSmart, a self-storage and logistics company with locations in the NYC area.