If you are looking for your first apartment, you might consider East Harlem.
Prices are $500 to $600 per square foot.
In fact, I found a guy who is paying less to buy an apartment than to rent in the neighborhood!
Moreover, a lot of these buildings require only a 5% (or in some cases less!) downpayment.
But you'll have to live without a Starbucks or a decent Chinese restaurant.