Housing was difficult to get as I did not want to live in the options offered by the University, as a personal choice. Why? Because I wanted to experience and embrace the real life in NYC, and not just living in an academic bubble where for example I’d meet my colleagues on the elevators etc.
Outside market is rather wild and fast, and getting an apartment is not easy if you are not connected and/or integrated in the local credit system (need to build a solid credit score first, but in order to do that you need to be eligible for a credit card, which is not always easy).
I’d recommend for incoming Postdocs to look into Queens, especially Long Island City (as an easy commute alternative to Weill Cornell), or into Greenpoint but just if you are into cycling! 😉