What a downtown or Brooklyn rental cost in 1983

A 1200 square foot Soho studio for $1350 a month?

An impossible find in 2013—but available 30 years ago (perhaps even without a fee!), according to this ad from the May 1983 issue of arts and entertainment monthly the East Village Eye.


It’s not the only rental that sounds absurdly inexpensive to New Yorkers conditioned to pay an average of up to $3,973 a month for a Manhattan apartment these days.


If you were willing to give “historic” South Williamsburg a try, you could score a two bedroom “modern” rental for $330 a month. Broadway and Marcy Avenue was probably a pretty rough place though.


An East Village subhed in the three digits per month? That was the going rate for this three-room place on Second Avenue and 10th Street, according to this East Village Eye ad from September 1984.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

18 Responses to “What a downtown or Brooklyn rental cost in 1983”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    I was paying $166 for a 4 room apartment on 13th St between 1st & 2nd Ave with rent control until 1998, that is when I had my stroke. Before then I had the place for years and years, very low, miniscule rent. Now it must be over a thousand bucks, if not more. Probably some NYU drunken students have it.

  2. The Unbearable Banishment Says:

    Oh, yeah? In 1992 I moved into a 900 sq. ft. two bedroom with excellent light, parquet floors and a sunken living room on Clinton St. a half a block below Houston for a measly $511.30/mo. Rent controlled heaven! The problem was that the naib, and Clinton St. in particular, was the epicenter for the heroin trade. At night the dealers would walk up and down the block between Houston and Stanton with that evening’s brand calling out “Poison! Poison! I got Poison!” Or “Works! Who needs works!?” Needles everywhere. I had friends who wouldn’t visit me. It was awful. The good old days. But then gentrification sank it’s fangs into the East Village. My building converted from apartments to condos and I sold my place to a trust fund kid whose family owned a major department store in London. For CASH!

  3. visualingual Says:

    Fascinating! When my mother and I came to NYC in 1984, we moved into a 4-room railroad apartment in the heart of Greenpoint that lacked central heat but cost only $270/month.

  4. EV Grieve Etc.: Mourning Edition « NYC Real Estate News Says:

    […] Apartment-for-rent ads circa 1983 (Ephemeral New York) […]

  5. Comme des Garcons Says:

    My first adult apartment in SoHo after graduation from FIT was a 2 room studio on Spring Street between W. B’way and Thompson for $750/mo. My windows faced the late towers. Sigh! There were no ATM in the neighborhood. I had to walk to Chinatown on Canal to get cash! The only thing that has not changed is there are still huge dog poo on the sidewalks after the sun has dawned.

  6. Diana Says:

    I rented a sunny rent-stabilized renovated studio on Christopher street for $700 a month in 1993 …and I was able to bargain them down. At that time, people were being nostalgic for the famous “$100 a month apartment” that you used to be able to get in the East Village and the lower east side until the 1980’s.

    But then, there were also the squats, where if you had the skills you could live for free … although without heat or any kind of legal access to electricity.

  7. y doe Says:

    The Williamsburg rental is from Creative Leasing Concpets. What’s a concpet?

  8. dido Says:

    I shared a two bedroom floor through on Union and Smith in Carroll Gardens which was 700$ in 1984. This was my first apartment after college. In that 700$ apartment I unpacked stuff I had boxed up (in the old Coogan building) prior to school. I uncrumpled an old Voice classified ad from 1977 that listed a one bedroom in the west village with a working fireplace for 350$!! And the me of 1984 became very nostalgic for 1977.

  9. wildnewyork Says:

    The person who answered that Village Voice ad in 1977 and scored the $350 apartment with the working fireplace might actually still live there . . . paying not much more!

  10. Ellen Levitt Says:

    Comparable…in Midwood, Brooklyn, we paid $52,500 for our house (5 BR, big backyard, etc) in 1971. My dad sold the house in 1999 for $660K which I told him was too low. Now he could get an easy million for it,

  11. Gee man Says:

    Yeah but with inflation a $350 rent in 1984 would be well over a thousand $ now. $1200 maybe? I rented a 2000sq ft loft on 17th St off Union Sq in 1976 for $450 and it became rent stabilized by the Loft Board in the mid 80’s. When I left in 2004 I was paying $1175/mo & was paid for the kitchen and bathroom fixtures I put in @ 2004 $’s. But yeah,struggling new artists and misfits could live in Manhattan.

    Oh, and back in ’68 I sublet an apt on E 3rd off !st Ave across from the gang that became the Hells Angels (ass hats!) for $80/mo with the sink/bathtub in the kitchen.

  12. ParisExpat Says:

    $38.00 (yes, thirty-eight) dollars per month for a second-floor studio apartment overlooking a garden at 270 E. 10th Street. This was around 1968. Other places I rented included a $100.00 a month studio with a fireplace on Cornelia Street in the West Village and a one-bedroom apartment on Charles Street off 7th Avenue for $125.00. (Sigh).

  13. KJD Says:

    Actually scored my last apt in Manhattan after living the life of a gypsy DJ in squats & shares throughout the 80’s. In 1996 Bowery & Rivington st. 400 square foot 1bedroom with an incredible southern view. Rent stabilized $632 lived there till 2005 when new owner paid me $30,000 to move, little did he know I planned on moving 6 months earlier so when I got the call was very happy indeed!

  14. DebInQueens Says:

    my first place was the entire first floor of a three-story, three unit place on sixth between C and D in 1983. there were technically two bedrooms, though there was this strange windowless room off the dining room that we used as a third bedroom. the total rent was $475, but we only charged $100 to the revolving cast of folks who used that glorified closet.

    rats, needles, dealers and — once — a dead junkie on the stoop, but it was a pretty amazing place. would have stayed longer, but the city seized the building — it was the only inhabited structure on that side of the block — to build the low rise projects that are there now.

  15. Bill Kilpatrick Says:

    $1350 wouldn’t have sounded absurdly inexpensive to New Yorkers back in ’83.

    In fact, if you adjust for inflation, that amount works out to be very, very close to the median rent of $3,150 quoted in that curbed article you linked to (I used median rent because the really high-end rentals, which aren’t even on the radar for someone in the market for a studio, cause the mean to skew high).

    “$1,350 in 1983 has the same buying power as $3,157.55 in 2013”
    Source: http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=1%2C350.00&year1=1983&year2=2013

  16. Eric Concepcion Says:

    I lived with my dad in Park Slope on 7th Ave near Methodist hospitalback in 83 Rents were dirt cheap then, so cheap that he commuted by car to Jersey City not far from the Path station. Went back a few months ago and the neighborhood has changed so much.

  17. The Magic Lantern: Episode 042 – Desperately Seeking Susan – The 25th Frame Says:

    […] wonderful site full of great tidbits, and here are a couple: Club posters from the ’80s, and what you may have paid for rent downtown in 1983 (and read the comments). If you’re looking for a really excellent dance track playlist (of […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: