If only one of your guys work than the burden of proof is on one person. There are some apartments in Upper East Side( close 100s) which are nicely remodeled and spacious.
check this listing out.
4 bedrooms with terrace for 4395, no fee if you sign a 2 year contract.
Your best bet is to be flexible for location in proximity to what you want. Consider if you might be able to stretch your budget. Most important is to work with a broker as you will certainly be paying a commission. Good luck.