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Shan Rizwan is a TikTok influencer. His videos show how much renters in New York actually pay.

Shan Rizwan outside of an apartment complex.
Shan Rizwan outside an apartment complex.
  • Shan Rizwan is the creator of TikToks, where he asks people to tell him about their finances.
  • His questions often aim to figure out how much renters in New York pay.
  • This series demonstrates how people's networks can influence the housing deals they find.

Two strangers cross paths on the street. Ana is a young woman pushing her stroller and three miniature dogs, Margot, Coconut, and Millicent. Shan Rizwan is a TikToker aged 22 who holds a microphone.

The TikTok video captures Ana's hesitation when Rizwan asks three questions about her: What do your day entails? What is your most expensive item in your apartment? What is your least favorite part about New York?

She laughs, however.

"I'm a hustler. She says that she does so many things. Rizwan attempts to guess the rent she pays. Before Rizwan tells her, he makes three incorrect guesses.

@shanrizwan Guessing People's Rents in New York City #guessingrent - Shan Rizwan

Rizwan is a Pakistani-Filipino American who lives in New York City's heart. His videos, asking people simple questions but telling them about their finances, have earned him more than 831,000 subscribers on TikTok.

The most popular of his series is where he attempts to predict New Yorkers' rents. He asks them the same three questions that he asked Ana. He finds a variety of occupations among the people he meets on the streets, including engineers, CEOs, and designers. Some claim they have spent only a few hundred dollars on furniture while others claim they have spent thousands.

Rizwan's videos show two things: New Yorkers will pay big to be able to call New York home. It's often their personal networks who decide how much. Rizwan discovered that people who are native to the area have a greater chance of finding the perfect home, while those who are transplants face more competition.

Rizwan said to Insider that it is difficult to find a good deal in New York City without being there for a while.

"My search was more successful than usual because I had a hookup with a friend"

Rizwan moved from Boston to New York in 2021. He relied heavily upon his friends network to find housing. He said that his first apartment, a walk-up on the third floor in Williamsburg was not ideal.

Insider reported that the odor was so bad it made the apartment unlivable. He was unable to live in the apartment so he asked permission from his landlord for the termination of the lease. He discovered a complex with many openings at a reasonable rate and signed a new lease.

"My search was more successful than usual because I had a hookup with a friend, and we began looking when COVID prices still existed," he stated. He was referring to 2021, when many people moved out of New York apartments and landlords offered incredible discounts on rent.

StreetEasy predicts that the COVID-19 pandemic's low rent prices will vanish in 2022. New Yorkers can also expect their rents to rise as the housing supply declines due to increased demand. This would mean that buyers and renters, regardless of their salary, will have to compete for the best spots in the city.

"I knew that rent was an interesting topic."

Rizwan, a TikTok user who has received over 188,000 likes, attempts to guess the rent Art, a television photographer who moved to New York City in 1956, will pay.

Art answers the question about the most expensive furniture in his apartment. It was his marble countertop that cost him approximately $3,000. Rizwan estimates that Art pays $2,500 per month in rent but is off by several hundred dollars. Art claims he pays $1,900, which is a difference from the $3,195 median rent that Zumper states New Yorkers pay for a one bedroom unit.

Rizwan interviews Kaylan (a software engineer from India) in another video. This video has been viewed 225,000 times. Rizwan estimates that Kaylan rents for $2,300. He is wrong by $200: Kaylan claims he pays $2,500 per month.

These videos show that renters in New York who are not local are paying significantly more for housing than their neighbors.

Rizwan stated that some of those who have lived in the area for over 20 years have signed leases dating back to before my birth. One person I spoke to said that they paid $700 for a one bedroom in Washington Square Park. This is a rare price. Rizwan stated that a newcomer would have difficulty finding the same unit and would likely pay more than $3,000. Douglas Elliman reports that Manhattan's rents have increased 16% in the last year.

Rizwan's TikTok rent series reveals how renters can afford to live in some of the most expensive places. The amount you pay for housing depends on whether you are an executive earning six figures, or a student barely scraping by.

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