Before you start going through all the listings, there are several things you should know about apartment hunting in NYC. The city’s renting market is enormous and highly dynamic, which makes looking for a place a real nightmare for many. However, if you follow all the necessary steps, you should be able to find several units that suit your needs.
Finding a place that's perfect for you doesn't have to be difficult
Whatever your reasons to move may be, following this short guide will show you how to find a good apartment in NY very quickly. Remember that it’s always better to set a budget and research the neighborhoods before getting a look at the units themselves. Unless you plan to move everything yourself, you should also start searching for a New York moving company as soon as you’ve signed the lease papers.
What Is the Best Way to Find an Apartment in NYC?
Despite having millions of rentable units, renting in a metropolis comes with some challenges. Whether it’s the higher price or a highly dynamic market, finding a place that fits all your criteria is a lot harder than it might seem. Fortunately, there are plenty of websites with hundreds of listings, many of which don’t require an additional fee. Word of mouth is also a great source of information, as experienced renters usually know where to look.
Start Searching for Apartments at Least a Month in Advance
People are often unsure when to start looking for apartments in NYC. Since you’ll have plenty of tasks on your moving to-do list, it’s recommended that you begin searching at least a month in advance. There are numerous neighborhoods you have to comb through, and this should give you the minimal amount of time needed to find a listing that suits you.
It’s a Lot Easier to Find Places for Rent in Winter
The summer usually has the largest number of listings, but it’s also the period when thousands of college graduates move to the city to look for work. The top units usually get picked pretty quickly, so it might be best to look for a place off-season. You may not like moving in New York in the winter, but you’ll have the highest chances of finding a good deal from November to March. Not only that, but the landlords may even add some benefits to get you to sign the lease.
Start searching for a place at least a month in advance
Set a Budget Before You Start Apartment Hunting in NYC
Before you even start apt hunting in NYC, you’ll have to set your budget. Figuring out how much you can spend on rent will save you a lot of time since you won’t be looking into places you can’t afford. The best way to calculate the amount you’re working with is to sit down and make a moving expenses checklist. You’ll first need to write down what you spend on food, the internet, entertainment, or any other expense each month. Unless you’re planning to move by yourself, you should also set aside some money for hiring New York City movers. Once you have a rough estimate of your expenses, deduct it from your salary, and get your maximum price range. Try not to raise the value, even by a little, as you don’t want to end up not having enough money to get through the month.
Landlords Take Into Account Your Annual Income
Most landlords expect you to have an annual income that’s at least forty times the monthly rent. This means that if you plan to get a place that costs about $3,000 a month, you’ll have to earn $120,000 annually. However, you also have to take into account taxes when calculating your budget. Since federal and state taxes deduct 35% of your income, you’ll end up with a significantly lower amount at your disposal, or in this case, $78,000. Additional expenses like utilities will also affect how much you can spend each month.
Renting Is a Lot Cheaper With a Roommate
If you’re living in Staten Island and you want to move to one of the best neighborhoods in Manhattan, you’ll probably need to go way over the budget you initially planned. The borough is known for having some of the highest rents in the country, which makes finding even a studio for less than $1,500 almost impossible. Fortunately, getting a roommate will allow you to look into significantly better places that would otherwise be too expensive for you. If none of your friends plan to move, you should try to find someone you’re compatible with who has a similar lifestyle and budget.
Moving in with a roommate or a partner will save you a lot of money
Research the Neighborhood Before You Start Checking Out Apartments
You should always try to get a better feel of the neighborhood you’re interested in. You may find plenty of information on the web, like the number and price of available rentals in the area, the presence of shops, cafes, and other kinds of amenities. If you want to get the best overall impression, you’ll have to visit the place in person. This allows you to see if the area is easy to navigate, as nobody wants to commute for too long. Fortunately, many locations have alternative commuting options, and bike rentals in NYC are becoming more popular by the day. Last but not least, it’s crucial to feel secure in your community. Unless you’re relocating to one of the safest neighborhoods in Manhattan, you’ll have to experience the location throughout different times of the day.
Get a feel of each neighborhood before deciding to move
Can You Still Get a Rent-Controlled Apartment in NYC?
The term rent-controlled comes from the fact that the landlord can’t raise the rent past a certain point. Most of these remaining today are held on by families living in the city since 1920, way back when the rent control was started. Many laws that regulate rents were passed since then, reducing the overall number of these units. Today, about 27,000 remain, mostly occupied by the elderly or low-income families living in them since July 1st, 1971. To inherit such a place, you’ll have to live in the unit for two years before the previous tenant dies or their lease expires. Fortunately, rent-stabilized apartments are also very affordable. Building with more than six units constructed before 1974 lease for no more than $2,700 a month, which is quite inexpensive for living in Manhattan.
Where Can I Find an Affordable Apartment in NYC?
While the city has more than a million rent-stabilized apartments, finding one is still harder than you might think, as tenants tend to stick with them for longer periods. Fortunately, you can often find plenty of these in the Upper West Side and some of the best neighborhoods in the Bronx. You should also consider living in Brooklyn, as you’ll have the highest chance of finding affordable renting options. If you’re serious about apartment searching in NYC, check out the Rent Guidelines Board’s annual list of all rent-stabilized buildings in the city.
You'll find plenty of affordable apartments in Brooklyn
Learn How to Apartment Hunt in NYC by Scheduling Some Viewings
While we said that colder months tend to have less competition, that doesn’t mean that you should give up your search for the perfect place. If you come across a listing that sparks your interests, contact the broker and schedule a viewing. Since you can only fit so many of these in one day, don’t try to overbook your schedule. For example, if you’re going to check some of the best places to live in Queens, you shouldn’t plan to view a unit in Staten Island in the afternoon. Try sticking to a single borough for a day, or perhaps two at most if your schedule allows it.
There Are Several Things You Should Look Into When Apartment Hunting in New York
There’s a whole list of things you need to consider when viewing a place. If you don’t know what to look for, our NYC apartment hunting tips will help you get a clear picture of the unit:
- Find out the building’s pet policy – Every building has a unique approach regarding cats, dogs, and various other animals. If you’re relocating with pets, you should say that upfront, as this is often factored into your lease through an additional fee and the security deposit.
- Ask if the price includes utilities – Some units require you to pay for the heat, electric, and water bills yourself. Since additional expenses might push an otherwise affordable place over your budget, the landlord should give you an estimate of how much these utilities are going to cost you.
- Check if everything is functioning correctly – While you’ll mostly find empty apartments on your search, each one should have a working stove, sink, and refrigerator. Notice if anything is out of order, and if you spot any problems, ask the landlord when he’s planning to fix them. Remember to check if the unit has a vermin problem, as you don’t want to live in a rat and bug-infested place. Finally, take a look at the phone reception, and note if you lose the signal at specific spots.
- Take pictures and measurements – Unless you plan to donate furniture in NYC, you should check if the place can fit all your belongings. Luckily, taking some pictures and measurements is one of the better relocation hacks that will help you recreate the apartment’s layout. If you can’t maneuver the furniture on your own, you can always hire one of the New York moving companies to assist you.
Find out if the building is pet friendly
Prepare for the Application by Gathering Documents and Rent Funds
Most listings won’t stay available for too long, especially if you’re searching in the best neighborhoods in Brooklyn or some of the top places to live in Staten Island. If you find a place that really sparks your interest, you’re likely not the only one. Fortunately, you can avoid losing the bid at the very last minute by preparing the necessary paperwork before starting your search. A rental application will require several things, including:
- Bank statements,
- More than one form of ID (Social Security card, birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, or other),
- Letter of employment,
- Guarantor data (a person who guarantees payment on the lease) – necessary for people with no credit or rental history.
How Much Money Do You Need to Cover a Rental Application?
Most applications will require you to pay the rent for the first month and the security deposit, which usually costs the same amount. This means that if the place costs $4,000 a month, you’ll need to pay at least $6,000 when signing the lease. Unfortunately, that’s not all. Most real estate listings have a broker’s fee, which usually ranges from 12-15% of your yearly expenses, although you may find some that go as low as one rent’s worth. Since paying the deposit and hiring New York movers are basically mandatory, this additional fee may be too much for some. Fortunately, you can find some incredible offers on StreetEasy without having to hire a broker. If you want to learn more about the application process, check out the video below.
Keep an Open Mind About All the Boroughs When Searching for Apartments
Numerous TV shows and movies have given the impression that NYC’s real estate market is filled with incredible spacious apartments you can only dream of, but that’s often not the case. It’s crucial to keep an open mind and go over everything when deciding where to live, both the good and the bad. If you’re a young adult looking for the best neighborhoods in NYC for singles, you’re likely going to focus your search on Downtown Manhattan. While there’s no denying that it has the most opportunities, it’s also one of the country’s most expensive locations. Will apartment prices go down in NYC? You never know, but chances are high there won’t be any significant changes.
If you can’t find a good place that fits your budget in Manhattan, consider giving the other boroughs a try. For example, Brooklyn has an abundance of larger apartments for the same price. Furthermore, while Central Park may be one of the city’s most recognizable green spaces, you can find plenty of excellent parks in Brooklyn. Manhattan has its nightclubs, but you can also have a good drink at one of many breweries in Queens. Overall, finding a perfect place is not going to be easy, which is why you should look for the silver lining.
Manhattan is not the only good place to live in the city
Go Over the Lease Carefully Before Signing It
By the time you get to sign the lease, you’ll experience so much relocation stress that you’d want to finish everything as soon as possible. Still, you should carefully go over the entire document, or you could end up overlooking a major problem. Remember that it’s always better to ask a lawyer to go over the lease for you than to sign something unknowingly. If something doesn’t align with what was promised, take it up with the landlord before signing anything. While it could be a simple mistake, the owner is obligated to provide only what was mentioned in the lease. The document should also state if the unit is rent-stabilized and if the utilities are covered. To avoid any confusion, it’s best you get acquainted with your tenant rights before signing anything.
Go over the lease carefully before signing it
After You Finish With Your Search, Hire One of the Top New York City Moving Companies to Assist You
We hope these tips made looking for apartments a little more accessible. The process is still time-consuming and requires a lot of dedication, but having a clear strategy will make it a lot less tedious and stressful. When you manage to find an appropriate place to live, you’re probably not going to stress yourself even more by relocating yourself. Fortunately, Twin Brothers Movers is here to help. Having one of the top moving companies in New York at your full disposal will give you access to some high-quality services, including residential moves and professional packing. If you have any questions, contact us to book our local movers in New York, and you’ll receive a free quote on anything you require.