Finding an apartment in NYC can seem like one of the most daunting experiences of your life, especially when on a budget in such an expensive city; but if you break the process down, it becomes far less stressful. The first thing you need to consider is your budget. This will help steer you in the right direction regarding realistic locations, and whether or not you will need a roommate(s). Once you have figured out your budget, begin to look into various areas in the city you are interested in to get a feeling for average pricing and availability. Depending on what you find, you will then be able to determine if you need a roommate or roommates to help split the costs of your apartment. It’s very important to have your budget, ideal locations, and roommates all finalized before beginning your search. This way, you won’t waste any time during the process.
Once all your preferences are set, you should first browse various websites to see what’s available. It’s important to be wary of what you see online, though, as many posts are scams. There are websites pertaining to all cities, but two of the most legitimate sites in NYC are www.citihabitats.com and www.streeteasy.com. Though these sites guarantee real listings and great service from licensed professionals, they often come with hefty broker fees. Broker fees are often 15% of one year’s rent. In addition to this, you will have to put down a deposit upon signing the lease, so it’s vital to keep these costs in mind when choosing how to pursue your apartment.
A different approach to take is to use Craigslist or sites like HotPads. These sites are more risky, in that one can never be sure who they are dealing with on the other end. However, some of the best deals are on these sites and often do not come with a broker’s fee. Craigslist has an option to look for only no fee apartments, and you can even look for sublets or roommates if you are having difficulty finding any. Sometimes going with a sublet is a favorable option, because you often won’t have to pay a broker’s fee or deposit, depending on your roommate. This is also a more non-committal option, as you won’t sign a lease. If you are looking for something temporary or short-term, subletting may be ideal.
Once you have found a bunch of places to look at, check them all out to get a feeling for what you like best. Walk around the area at night to make sure you feel safe, and get a feeling for the neighborhood at large. Other factors to consider are pets, walk-ups versus elevator buildings, and whether or not you prefer having a doorman. Once you figure out exactly what you want upon viewing these apartments, your search will narrow down quite a bit.
Once you’ve found the apartment you love, sign a lease – FAST! Apartments go off the market like rapid fire in NYC, and it can be horribly disappointing to lose a place you love; however, this is incredibly common. Once you do get to lease signing, read the fine print extremely closely, as you may be surprised by what you see. One of the biggest issues today with apartments in NYC is bed bugs. Landlords are required to tell you if there have been cases of bed bugs within the past year in the building, but they may not be as forthcoming with that information as you would like. If there have been bed bugs in the building recently, it will be in your lease, so be sure to look for that disclosure or anything else that seems out of the ordinary.
After you’ve signed your lease, celebrate and enjoy your new life in one of the greatest cities in the world!