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From high-rises to brownstones: Exploring different NYC housing types


NYC is one of the biggest and most diverse cities in the USA. Home to 8.468 million people, you will be able to find anything you want here. And it is ever increasing – only in the past decade it increased by 4.25%. All these people flocking to the city bring their cultures with them, including art and architecture. Over the years, this led to the existence of a diverse mix, even when housing types are considered. There will obviously be plenty of options when housing is considered, but U.Santini Moving and Storage should be your only choice when moving. Today, we will go through the most common NYC housing types and explain the pros and cons of each of them.

What is housing and why does it come in different forms?

Housing is one of the basic needs of every individual on the planet. With so many people and their different needs – you can expect a large variety of housing types. Housing evolved a lot since its beginnings when it only provided shelter from harsh weather and rain. Now, housing is defined as buildings for people to live in. But those buildings can be constructed in different ways, look different, and provide a large variety of amenities. Not only in NYC but all around the world, the most frequently seen housing types are:

  • Single-family home
  • Multi-family home
  • Modular home
  • Bungalow
  • Ranch home
  • Condo building

Although all of these can be seen in the territory of NYC, some are more frequent than others. The good news, our local movers in NYC have completed moves in each of these, so you will be in good hands.

Picture of a key in a door
All of the NYC housing types will be good – for different people

Some housing types cannot be found in NYC

The Big Apple is one of the most densely populated areas in the USA. with 26,403 people per square mile. It is called the concrete jungle for a reason – all these people need spaces to live in, leaving very little place for open, green areas! So, naturally, some housing types from the previous list make little sense in such an area. Bungalows occupy a lot of horizontal space since it has only one story and can fit only one family. Ranch homes make even less sense since they are always accompanied by a big field. You can find these in the outskirts and suburbs of NYC, but they practically don’t exist the closer you get to the city’s heart. With that being said, the most popular housing types will be discussed in detail below.


Condominiums or condos are without a doubt one of the most popular NYC housing types. It is the most popular type in every big city since it takes minimal horizontal space, therefore the name high-rises. The tallest one is 98 stories tall – the Central Park Tower in Manhattan. The heights vary, but the main idea is to make space for as many people in as little horizontal space as possible. It is convenient because it is made of separate apartment units, that can either be sold or rented. This makes it possible for different families to live very close to each other, where they have some common areas. When moving to New York, you will be able to find around 10,000 of these on the market, so the choices are limitless.

What are the benefits of living in condos?

  • The biggest benefit and the reason why people buy or rent condos is their price. They are less expensive than a single-family home, for example. This makes it possible for a larger population to become homeowners, even more now when that housing prices have skyrocketed – especially in cities like NYC. The prices range from $909,000 to $9.846 million depending on the size! Over time, they help you build equity, as you go on with paying your mortgage.
  • Another good feature of condos is the location. These buildings are often seen in the city center and downtown. So, if you want to be part of the busiest areas of a city, a condo is the way to go.
  • Condos feature higher levels of security compared to any other housing type. Many newer condo buildings include a guard service, a call box, and even a doorman. Even when you are away, the fact that you have neighbors so close to your home will give you a sense o security.
  • You are not required to do any yard or maintenance work in this type of building. Professionals are hired for this, which will be paid as part of your monthly amenities bill.
  • You will have the possibility to renovate and change the condo if you own it. Unlike standard apartment buildings, if you own a condo, you don’t have to answer anyone about what you are changing inside it.
Picture of an apartment building
Condos are the most popular NYC housing types

Condos also come with some downsides

  • Condos are usually 600-700 square feet, leaving very little room or storage. A minimalist won’t mind this, but if you like to collect items, then storage NYC might come in handy.
  • In big cities, parking is always a concern. As a tenant or owner of a condo, you will likely have access to only one parking space, if you are lucky!

The single-family home is the most popular housing choice all across America

When people are thinking about committing to buying a property, a single-family home is the first choice for many. It is the typical American dream – starting a family and having a nice home for yourself. This is usually the situation in smaller cities ad towns, but NYC also has a fair share of single-family homes on the market. You can find around 4,000 homes of this type in NYC, but don’t expect them to be part of Manhattan – this is the area for condos. Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx have single-family homes.

The benefits of single-family homes are numerous

  • Privacy is one of the biggest reasons for people to pick single-family homes from all of the NYC housing types. You will have a home all to yourself, which will usually come with a yard. You won’t have to share walls with anyone, so you can make as much noise as you want!
  • Possibilities to renovate and expand – even though you can renovate a condo that you own, you are limited by its walls within the condo building. In a home that you own, you can go beyond that, as long as your yard allows it.
  • A single-family home will always be the more valuable housing type. Everyone dreams of having one at some point.

Are there any bad sides to single-family homes?

  • The initial price is higher, and we are talking way higher in NYC! The median price for this type of housing is $995,000, the highest it has been in years.
  • In a home, you will be responsible for indoor and outdoor maintenance. So, the bigger your yard, the more work you will have to put into maintaining it.
  • You will have to pay a property tax as a homeowner. The good news is that even though NYC is expensive, the property tax is quite low, at 0.98%
  • Single-family homes can usually be found outside the center of the boroughs, which can be both a good and a bad side, depending on the owner’s requirements and lifestyle.
a single-family home with a yard
Owning a single-family home is a dream for many

Multi-family home aka. townhouse

The townhouses are the traditional homes of NYC – the beautiful brownstone buildings that everyone has seen. They can be seen throughout the city, but they are most iconic in Brooklyn. A townhouse is a tall, narrow building with more than one story. They have been traditionally used as single-family homes, but high housing costs make people get creative. Today, you can find a different family living in each of these building stories. This cost-cutting technique is called house hacking and it is widely used in big cities like NYC. NYC moving costs and housing costs are high, so it is a good way for the building owner to pay off their mortgage.

Multi-family homes are great

The biggest benefit of this NYC housing type is the affordable housing that they offer. More families will share a building, and since it is not commercial, you can strike a deal with the landlord when rent is considered. The landlord, usually living within the property, will normally use the rent money to pay off their mortgage for the property and afford a lifestyle with minimal housing expenses.

But they also include certain bad sides

  • Even though they offer financial stability and passive income, the price of investing in a townhouse is high. The lowest price you can pay for this type of housing in Manhattan is $850,000 and it can go up to a few million dollars.
  • If you plan on becoming a multi-family homeowner, make up your mind fast because the deals are disappearing fast. The NYC real estate market is highly competitive, and everyone wants to have passive income. Experienced investors and landlords buy these properties in cash sometimes, only to ward off competition.
  • These properties are difficult to manage, as you will be responsible for all the maintenance and repair work. This will take time and money, but organizations like The Housing Preservation and Development. They are a great help to people who are just starting off as landlords in NYC.
Picture of a townhouse as one of many NYC housing types
Townhouses are a great way to earn passive income

How should you decide which NYC housing types are right for you?

As you can see, there are 3 main types of housing that are popular in NYC. Each of these types brings you thousands of choices scattered all around the city, so how should you choose? Buying, and even renting a home is a commitment, and it will take thinking and decision-making to complete. Go through all of the following before making a big step.

Consider your wishes and needs

No matter if you are moving to NYC alone or as a family, you will have preferences. Sure, living in New York can only offer you a dense urban and dense suburban feeling, but you can greatly impact this with your housing choice. A young professional might opt for a condo apartment in the heart of Manhattan, while a family might strive to get a home in Borough Park, Brooklyn. Don’t start looking for homes just because the price is appealing. You might save money upfront, but you will hate your decision if it wasn’t what you have always dreamed of.

Keep your budget in mind when browsing the NYC housing types

Whether we like it or not, we live in a material world where everything is influenced by money. Housing is a big monthly expense, making up 30% of the budget, so it shouldn’t be taken lightly. If your budget is $500,000, for example, you can find almost every property from the list, as long as it is not located in Manhattan or other high-end areas. Stay realistic, and only look at the properties that you can afford at the moment. Dreaming is nice, but it will take you precious time when you might be in a hurry to move.

Don’t think too much

As we previously mentioned, NYC is highly competitive when it comes to housing. Many people are coming and leaving the city, so the real estate market is rapidly changing. If you waste too much time thinking about whether you should commit or not, someone else might take that opportunity from you. And as always, the good, affordable options sell out extremely rapidly, so act fast.

Picture of a person thinking about the different NYC housing types
When you see an opportunity that you like, don’t wait on it

Final thoughts

Living in New York is a dream for many people. But while some dream, others are about to make a big decision. If you are about to move and are considering the different NYC housing types, it is normal to be overwhelmed – especially if you’re buying your first home. But you are on the verge of a big, life-altering decision, so the least you could treat yourself to is not having to worry about the moving tasks. So, contact us and make your move easier today!


Dilakian, S. (2023, March 3). NYC Metro Area’s Population Growth Outpaces Housing Supply. The Real Deal.

New York Property Tax Calculator – SmartAsset. (n.d.). SmartAsset.,statewide%20average%20rate%20is%201.62%25.

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Allison "Elnoods" N.

From Brooklyn, NY

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