Where can I get the best deals on apartments in Manhattan?
My strong advice is to avoid searching by neighborhood unless you truly have your heart set on a very specific place. Instead, get a general idea what's on the market and take it from there.
That said, Upper Manhattan with its rich history yet older buildings is definitely one place (among others) to look for great deals.
Lacking the modern financial glitz of Madison, Park Avenue and Wall Street as well as immediate proximity to Midtown and the financial district, you won't find find $6,000 a month studios here. Instead you'll find tons of majorly renovated pre (and post) war walk ups at a median rent (at the time of this writing) of around $2600 a month many way lest.
Note that when I say that it it's a bit of a lug, you're still talking rarely more than a half hour from most parts of Upper Manhattan to Times Square, On the other hand, local shopping aside, you've got Yankee Stadium and the Bronx Terminal Market just a short ride away and are just a short distance from Central Park and the cultural hotspots of the Upper West Side.
The big pic...
Upper Manhattan is beginning to shine.
Take Harlem. Today's Harlem is bright, bustling and home of its fair share of luxury highrises; however as you go even further up the deals get better and better, and there's great shopping too.. Harlem aside, other areas to keep an eye out on include Ft. George, Hamilton Heights, Inwood, Washington Heights and others.
With the 2023 Tonys being held in Washington Heights at the United Palace Theatre (and already with plenty of spotlight from In The Heights, my guess is that the neighborhood that Lin Manuel-Miranda built is going to shine even more, and trust me, it deserves to.
So while the George Washington Bridge may not yet have the popularity and hipness of the Brooklyn Bridge and Northern Manhattan neighborhoods may be older and "grayer" compared to hipper, spunkier Lower Manhattan, I predict that this area will continue to "develop", meaning grab up those deals now while they're still out there and affordable.