My wife and I just finished moving into a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, our second home in the city. Although our second unit is (slightly) bigger than our first, we’ve still had to come up with a few hacks for living in a small NYC apartment.
We’re not to the point of storing winter coats in the oven (yet), but full transparency: my wife likes to shop. In this post, I’ll give you a local’s take on how to survive living in a small New York City apartment, and locals are encouraged to leave their tips (and horror stories) in the comments below. Let’s dive in!
Tips for Living in a Small Apartment in New York City
Table of Contents: Small NYC Apartment Tips
Table of Contents: Small Space Living Hacks NYC
- Tips for Living in a Small Apartment in New York City
- The Right Lightbulbs Make a Huge Difference
- Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who Has the Smallest NYC Apartment of Them All?
- Beds Aren’t Just For Sleeping
- When Shopping for Furniture, Add “With Storage” to the Search Query
- Sometimes It’s Not About Space, It’s About Efficiency
- Doors are a Decent Place to Hang Things
- Vacuum-Sealed Bags Aren’t Just a Gimmick
- Don’t Forget to Use the Walls
- If You Have Suitcases, You Have Mini-Closets
- Invest in the Latest and Greatest
- Don’t Hoard Junk
- Purge… and Then Purge Again!
- Tips For Living in a Small New York City Apartment
- More Helpful Links
The Right Lightbulbs Make a Huge Difference
Poor lighting can make or break an apartment. Our last apartment (which is smaller than our current unit) had south-facing windows and the natural light made it feel enormous. To meet somewhere in the middle, I decided to buy brighter light bulbs (and chuck the dim, yellow ones)
Most small New York City apartments are painted white (which helps reflect light), and brightening them up can make them feel more airy and breathable. These light bulbs are an inexpensive way to make your space feel bigger with the (literal) flip of a switch.
Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who Has the Smallest NYC Apartment of Them All?
Regarding natural light, mirrors aren’t just decoration; they’re light reflectors that add dimension and help create the illusion of a bigger space. Put them all over the place; it’s one of the best tips I can offer for living in a small New York City apartment!
They help brighten up even the most cavernous of apartments. I have three full-length mirrors, two in my living room and one in my bedroom, and they make a world of difference. I positioned the largest of them near one of my windows (my apartment faces north) to maximize natural light.
Beds Aren’t Just For Sleeping
Easy peanut gallery, this isn’t what you think. When maximizing space in a small NYC apartment, the bed you choose can make a difference. I bought this bed because it rose 12 inches off the ground. I also picked up these handy under-the-bed storage bags to make the storage system even more effective. They help keep things nicely stored and (more importantly) clean since dust in New York City is no joke.
If your budget is more generous than mine, I suggest this bed that my sister bought for her small NYC apartment. She swears by it and says it makes storing things under the bed so much easier, I can’t recommend it enough!
When Shopping for Furniture, Add “With Storage” to the Search Query
Looking for a coffee table, ottoman, desk, or TV console? Don’t forget to add “with storage” to the end of every search. Although it won’t replace a loft or a closet, the extra space can help with all the random knick-knacks that would otherwise create clutter (TV remote, books, coasters).
If you can’t find anything with storage, I suggest getting furniture with a sleek, minimal design. Bulky furniture feels like it absorbs the space around it, even if it has the exact dimensions of a sleeker counterpart. One of the best tips for living in a small New York City apartment is to take up as little floor space as possible.
Sometimes It’s Not About Space, It’s About Efficiency
Sometimes, it isn’t how much space you have; it’s how you use it. We put everything into boxes, crates, and bins. Our entry closet (one of only two in our apartment) is outfitted with marked stackable bins. It makes finding things much easier than if we just chucked everything in and shut the door. You can maximize space in a small NYC apartment by staying organized!
Doors are a Decent Place to Hang Things
My father is a carpenter, so I grew up hearing that it’s poor practice to hang things off doors (heavy items can cause the door to sag). Well, pops, studio life has changed (some could say broke) me because every single one of my doors now has one of these bad boys. I hang wet towels, backpacks, totes, and just about anything else with a handle. They even make small door hangers you can attach to your cabinets for things like cleaners and paper towels!
Vacuum-Sealed Bags Aren’t Just a Gimmick
I can’t be the only one who remembers the late-night ads for vacuum-sealed bags. Based on first-hand experience, they’re not just gimmicks; the bags are one of the best hacks for maximizing space in a tiny NYC apartment. In a pinch, I have even used a regular trash bag to store a comforter, using my vacuum to suction out the air and tying it (really tight). It more than halved the blanket in size!
Don’t Forget to Use the Walls
A great use of space is to install shelves in the bedroom, towel hangers in the bathroom, or pot racks in the kitchen. I once had a friend who installed a pot rack so she could use her kitchen cabinets for shoes instead. Even Command Hooks for your keys can help de-clutter a space and make it feel less stuffy. Just take this tip for living in a small apartment in New York City with a grain of salt, and double-check your lease (and what’s behind the wall!) before drilling holes.
If You Have Suitcases, You Have Mini-Closets
Those storing their suitcases in a closet or underneath their beds should be sure to fill them to the brim with any seldom-used items (or seasonal items, like winter coats). It doesn’t make sense to leave them empty when so many things are to be put away! And a bonus tip: if you have both carry-on and check-in suitcases, stuff the smaller one into the bigger one.
Invest in the Latest and Greatest
I know I’m not the first to say, “Why do I need to buy the new (blank) when the one I have still works?!” Well, if you can swing the upgrade, it can be a great way of maximizing space in small NYC apartments.
The new Dyson vacuums are half the size of the prehistoric Hoovers we grew up with. Sonos speakers replace antiquated home sound systems that take up half a living room. Kindles hold more books than a six-foot bookshelf, and so it goes. If budget allows, sometimes upgrading really makes life so much easier.
Don’t Hoard Junk
Do you need more space? Or do you need fewer things? I’m not a minimalist, but one of the best tips for living in a small New York City apartment is to simply get rid of stuff you don’t use (not pointing fingers; I’m the biggest culprit of this!)
The packaging your electronics came in? Toss it. Cables and remotes to devices you no longer have? Nope. The souvenir shirt from your trip to Cancun when you were twelve? You know the drill. Don’t get me wrong, I get attached to sentimental things, but living in a small New York City studio becomes much more bearable when you’re not swimming in clutter.
Purge… and Then Purge Again!
Another department where you’re likely hoarding junk is in regard to clothing. Here’s a little hack: first, go into your closet and hang all your clothes with the hangers facing one direction. Then, after you wear something, flip the hanger around.
Give yourself a time frame of six months or a year. When your deadline rolls around, toss everything on a hanger that has yet to be flipped (which means you didn’t wear it, or even reach for it) into the donation pile!
Tips For Living in a Small New York City Apartment
- Look for furniture with storage
- Utilize the space under your bed
- Organize with bins
- Use door hangers
- Vacuum-sealed bags are your friend
- Hang things on walls
- Stuff your suitcases while they’re in storage
- Enjoy the technology of the 21st century
- Invest in brighter light bulbs
- Get rid of useless
Frequently Asked Questions
Maximize vertical space by utilizing wall-mounted shelves, multifunctional furniture, and clever storage solutions to optimize every inch of your small apartment in NYC.
Prioritize decluttering regularly, embrace minimalist living, and focus on creating multifunctional spaces to maximize comfort and functionality in your small apartment.
Maximize space by utilizing smart storage solutions, multifunctional furniture, and creative organization techniques to optimize your apartment in NYC.
Decorate with light colors, utilize mirrors to create the illusion of space, and incorporate multifunctional furniture to maximize functionality while maintaining a sense of openness in your small apartment in New York.
Enhance the ambiance with plush textiles, strategic lighting, and curated decor to elevate the aesthetic and make your small apartment feel luxurious.
The average apartment size in Manhattan is approximately 733 square feet.
The average apartment size in Brooklyn is approximately 900 square feet.
The average apartment size in Queens is around 850 square feet.
More Helpful Links
- The Truth About Living in NYC: 20 HONEST Pros & Cons of Living in New York City
- Where to Apartment Shop: 15 Best Places to Live in New York (Helpful Local’s Guide)
- What to Know Before Moving: 20 CRUCIAL Things to Know About Moving to New York City
- Living in New York City Vs. Los Angeles: (10+ Key Things to Know)
- New York City Facts: 25 Things You May Not Know About NYC (Yet)
- Where to Live in New York State: 15 Best Places to Live in New York State (Helpful Guide)
I hope this list of tips for living in a small New York City apartment proves useful! Don’t forget to share your hacks (and horror stories) in the comments!
Until next time, Alejandro.