The rent is so damn high we’ve all surely considered some drastic measures: pitching a tent in Prospect Park, crafting a lean-to out of discarded Budweiser cans (the only thing that beer may actually be good for) or just taking a sublet in a burrow deep, deep into the earth’s crust far away from Twitter, Tinder and condo developers (actually, this is called a grave and you’d still probably pay a lot: have you ever seen burial prices in this city?). Perhaps at some point you’ve looked around at all the office space across the city, which sits largely dormant for many hours of the day, and wondered if you should just roll up with a sleeping bag and crash for the night, and figure out a way to make ramen in a Keurig machine.
This might not be the worst idea actually: A new study from RentHop out this week shows commercial space (offices, businesses, etc.) is actually up to 45 percent cheaper than residential space across the city. In Gowanus, for instance, office space costs an average of just $32.64 per square foot per year, compared to $54.77 for residential space. Kinda puts a whole new twist on the desire to “work from home” amiright?
The study showed these neighborhoods had the biggest differential on commercial space over residential:
Long Island City – $29.08 /Sqft/ year – 44.8% less than the residential rate ($52.71)
East Harlem – $27.94 /Sqft/ year – 43.8% less than the residential rate ($49.69)
Gowanus – $32.64 /Sqft/ year – 40.4% less than the residential rate ($54.77)
Hunter’s Point – $35.30 /Sqft/ year – 37.5% less than the residential rate ($56.49)
Long Island City – $44.42 /Sqft/ year – 33.2% less than the residential rate ($66.51)
Commercial space in Williamsburg is 17.2 percent cheaper than residential; but in Bushwick, residential space is actually 31.8 percent cheaper. That probably won’t last long, tbh.
What can you do with this information? Probably nothing! Squatting in an office space will not go over well with a landlord, building management or building inspector (zoning laws exist for a reason). Though if you were crafty enough you could probably put on a facade as some all-night branding company that works in their pajamas because that’s the new millennial workplace trend, and you’ve also replaced all the standing desks with “sleeping bag desks,” the hot new trend in millennial desk positioning.
This does however help explain why there are so many residential buildings and condos going up around the city at a seemingly endless pace while construction of things to actually serve those new condo dwellers (stuff like “offices to work in,” “food stores” and “stuff to do so everyone isn’t cramming into my favorite neighborhood bar demanding an all-Drake playlist night”) happens at a much slower rate: housing is more profitable for developers. At the very least, you can feel a little better if you ever have to spend a night at your job; you could sublet your actual apartment for that night and make out great.
A disclaimer on studies like this: We publish reports on rent similar to this one sometimes, but they should be taking as a snapshot of the market, not a definitive fact about the state of rent prices in NYC. Each study has its own limitations and biases (Rent Hop’s is limited to 100,000 listings), so use these for educational purposes based on their data only.