Neighborhood 1: The park
In LA’s corner, we have Los Feliz, a Village-y hub nestled at the foot of Griffith Park’s canyons, trails and exercise devotees. In New York’s corner, we have Central Park, former no-go area turned No. 1 tourist attraction, with some of the most beautiful green spaces in the whole city. We’ll start by looking at three LA apartments, then see what New York has to offer (betcha it's about 10" x 10").
Two bedrooms, just sliding in under the $2,000 wire. What does that buy you in New York, a toilet in the foyer?
Oh, you fancy. Two bedrooms, plus two bathrooms, laundry and, according to the listing, it’s walking distance to horse stables. That's right, New Yorkers, horses. Not the sad, PETA-ire invoking horses you see in Central Park. The real deal.
In LA, you can choose small-space living. It's a choice, not a mandate. Oh, and there are some other bonuses too: a spa, fireside dining terrace and poolside cabanas to sweeten the deal.
Ah, the mythical New York one-bedroom for just over two grand a month. A separate bedroom, egad! But hot damn, it’s actually right next to the park. You never had a chance—bet this one was snapped up in a nanosecond.
That's more like it. Here, a little over two grand a month gets you just this studio. Tiny, expensive and not really that close to the park.
Ooooh, exposed brick is my kryptonite! NOT. This one’s right on the park, but it is TINY. We're calling it: LA wins this round hands down.
Neighborhood 2: The kid-friendly area
Repping LA in this category is Brentwood, where Lululemon-addicted moms are frequently bested in the street-style department by their fashion-forward offspring, rocking “I woke up like this” (literally, from their afternoon naps) hair. Now, was there any doubt in your mind that repping NYC would be Stroller City itself, Park Slope? With its schools, tree-lined streets and proximity to Prospect Park, it’s dogs-and-kids heaven.
Know what you want when you have kids? In-unit laundry (check!). Know what else you want? A separate bedroom. Hm. Come on LA, you can do better.
Roof. Top. Pool. Roof. Top. Pool. Marco Polo, anyone? Kids love that shit. Still need a second bedroom though...
Kicking off our selection of three New York apartments is this studio. But have you noticed the major drawback for someone with kids yet? No? It’s a studio.
Ooooh, open floor plan! Oh wait, it’s a fricking studio. For $2,100 a month. Seriously?
Well, that’s at least more practical—a two-bedroom on Seventh Ave (albeit right next to the hospital). You'll definitely be living in the city that never sleeps, thanks to the sirens and your kiddos. This little tussle was close, but the studios alone give the win to LA.
Neighborhood 3: The hipster haven
Every city needs a hipster zone (for some reason), and LA is no exception, with Silver Lake serving as the base of the kombucha-swilling, irony-spewing Eastside Gentrification Army. When it comes to skinny jeans, fixies and unkempt beards, there is still no neighborhood in New York that beats Williamsburg, home of artisanal cheese, craft beer and many a potentially regrettable tattoo. That said, Greenpoint is a close second.
Around $2,000 gets you…not much, apparently. This 500-square-foot studio is far from the Apple-filled hipster palace we’d envisioned. Gas, water, Internet and cable TV are included though. Think how many more craft beers that'll buy.
Look. At. That. View. And. All. That. Space.
Oh hey, 900 square feet with two bedrooms for under two grand, and assigned parking? WHERE DO WE SIGN?
Oof, okay, gotta get over that sticker shock. Anyways, this looks likes a perfectly decent one-bedroom. Not gonna hate all over it. It is pretty far outside of where you would want to be in Williamsburg though. Don't even try that, "it's the new-new Williamsburg" BS on me.
Okay, okay, the competition's heating up. Remember: we were just seeing studios in Manhattan at this price. What a difference that bridge makes.
See, this is why we can't have nice things. (We simply can't afford them.) But we'll be mature and admit when we've lost—if you really want to live in the capital of beards, beard grooming supply shops, and flower beards, go ahead. LA: 2, New York: 1.
And that, my friends, is the view from your bedroom. Also your living room. And kitchen. It's a studio, but all you really need is room for you and your boards when you're that close to the sand (also: check out that price...well under $2,000!).
It's another studio—but it's just a few blocks from the beach, and it has laundry, AC and a parking space. We never said oceanfront living was cheap, but damn, is it worth it.
A little on the small side, but don't you just want to lay out on that carpet? Oh wait, you should just go do that at the beach. You're close enough.
If you want to live on the beach but still have access to the city via subway, it’s tough to argue with this two-bed in a luxury building, right by the sea. Not bad, New York.
It’s a one-bed, but it’s also right on the ocean and it even has a sizeable (for New York) outdoor space. The beach category may be the surprise dark horse victory for New York here…except, winter. Don't forget about all those months when looking at that cold, freezing ocean will just make you depressed. We digress...
Another win comes in the form of this good-size one-bedroom with a laundry room. All in all, a pretty good showing for a town not exactly renowned for its beaches. Those accents though... Unbelievable as it might seem, we’re going to call this round a draw. That’s right: We’re saying that you can get just as good an apartment near the beach in NYC as you can in L.A. (The quality of the beaches, of course, is a separate argument.)
Neighborhood 5: The next big 'hood
In LA, the stirrings of popularity (and climbing rents) can be felt in West Adams, just east of downtown in the still-scary-but-getting-less-scary neighborhood near USC. Bushwick has already exploded in popularity, but in terms of name-brand recognition, it’s not quite up there among other New York nabes like Williamsburg. It’s only a matter of time, though.
Now this is the kind of math we love to do: three bedrooms for $1850. That's just a tiny bit over $600 per room. We haven't seen those roommate prices since college.
An 800-square-foot of space with a brand-new kitchen, hardwood floors and carpeted bedrooms. And that ever-elusive "character." West Adams, you're winning our hearts.
Unremarkable by the looks of the photos, but again, let's do the math. This one is even cheaper!
Wait, this is an up-and-coming neighborhood and one-bedrooms are HOW MUCH? Did you guys not get the memo on this one? There should be at least two bedrooms here...
Oh, thank the apartment gods. Two bedrooms for less than two grand, plus an elevator and on-site laundry. We're rooting for you, New York!
Oh, baby...look at all that exposed brick! Krytonite, remember? Slightly more expensive than the others but it at least looks like it has some breathing room. We're calling this a draw: you can get a lot more space in LA's West Adams, though it may not be as "cute" as Bushwick.
So there you have it. Look, apartment hunting in a big city is hard, period. People are ruthless and competitive and sometimes, when you really step back and take a look at that tiny studio just shy of $2,000 you think you can't live without, you lose sight of why you want to cram your life into it in the first place. Walk outside into that gorgeous city of yours, and you'll remember why right away.
Finding a place to live in Los Angeles is—let's be honest—stressful, nightmare-ish, the worst. But, there's always a silver lining: at least you're not apartment hunting in New York. To reinforce how much more bang (read: space) for your buck you can find here, we compared LA and New York apartments in similar, desirable neighborhoods: near the water, hipster hoods, kid-friendly zones, and more. Here are 30 apartments—15 in LA, and 15 in New York—all around $2,000 per month. Who's getting the better deal? Tell us in the comments below.
We'll call it like it is—we may not be the clear winner of all these apartment mini-battles, but don't forget these 31 other ways LA kicks New York's ass (and don't feel bad: they wrote their own about us).