How to Apartment Hunt in NYC

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how to apartment hunt

New York City is a city of renters, with roughly 51% of the Big Apple’s population renting rather than owning in 2015.

While in a lot of places in the country, learning how to apartment hunt isn’t an Olympic-style skill, in NYC, it definitely is. This is not a place where you can view an apartment and mull on it for a few weeks before you make a decision. You have to be quick on your feet and ready to go.

If you’re looking for your first place in the city, it’s important to know that apartment hunting in NYC is competitive and fast-paced.

Let’s take a look at what you need to know to find your perfect new apartment in the big city.

Determine Your Budget From the Get-Go and Don’t Waver From It

While you might be able to find some good deals on apartments in NYC since the outbreak of the coronavirus, that doesn’t mean it’s not still an incredibly competitive and expensive rental market.

When you’re apartment hunting in NYC, you need to be able to move quickly so you don’t lose that perfect spot. It’s important to be willing to be flexible as it’s unlikely that you’ll find the perfect place with everything you want in your price range.

Take a serious and honest look at your finances before you start your hunt. What’s your number? Figure this out, factoring in all of your utilities, and don’t budge.

Curious to know how much rent you can afford in NYC? Discover more here.

Consider Hunting in the Winter For Lower Rents

Since winter is the “off-peak” time for renting NYC apartments, this can be a less competitive and less expensive time to find a spot. If you’re willing to move your belongings in the ice and snow, consider looking in the winter.

Make a List of What You Must Have

Everyone has a few things they can’t live without. Whether you need to find a pet-friendly place, you’d really prefer to have a washer and dryer, or you want to live right next to a subway stop, understanding what you need can help guide you on your search.

Be Communicative If You’re Looking For NYC Apartments With Someone Else

The best way to apartment hunt in NYC on your own is going to be a bit different than doing so with another person. Whether they’re your significant other or a roommate, it’s essential to be super communicative during this time.

Get Your Documents Ready

You’ll need a lot of documents to secure that perfect 1-bedroom you found. NYC landlords expect a kind of ridiculous amount of documentation, and if you don’t come prepared you can lose the spot of your dreams.

According to U.S. News and World Report, you’ll want to bring:

  • Copies of your most recent paystubs
  • A current credit report
  • Tax returns from the last two years
  • A color copy of your passport or driver’s license
  • A list of professional and personal references
  • If you’re using a guarantor, you will need extra documents

Being prepared can make the difference between being done with the hunt or having to carry on, so get your paperwork in order ahead of time.

Research Brokers and Landlords Before Sharing Personal Information

It’s important to understand that there are some people out there that will try and take advantage of you. If you are going to look at an apartment, do a quick Google search of the broker or landlord before meeting up or sharing any personal information.

Bring a Friend With You

If you’re looking for a place to live on your own, ask someone to come with you. This is both a safety precaution but can also help you stay calm and ensure that you don’t make any super rash decisions.

Check-in About Pet Policies

If you have a four-legged friend or any type of animal, or you’re considering getting one, ask about the pet policy. You’ll want to ask about this upfront because it might be a deal-breaker for you or for your landlord. Also ask to see if there are extra pet-associated fees if they do allow pets.

Ask About Utilities, Fees, and Appliances

Don’t forget to ask about utilities when you’re looking for NYC apartments. If they aren’t included, you’ll want to ask how much they cost on average.

Appliances almost always come with apartments, but you’ll want to make sure they work and that they come with the place. Otherwise, you could be left with a disappointing circumstance when you move in.

A lot of times there are extra fees when you’re using a broker to find an apartment. However, be sure to watch out for scam fees like “key money” which is illegal in the city.

Take Measurements and Pictures

When you’re looking at tons of apartments, it’s easy to assume you’ll remember how they were all laid out. Trust us, you won’t. Take tons of pictures and measurements so you can plan out how you would organize your furniture once you’re moved in.

Scan For Signs of Critters

Landlords are required by law to tell you if there have been bedbugs in the last year, but they don’t have to say a word if they know about rats or mice. Take a quick peek in cabinets to see if you can see any signs, and you can use the Rat Information Portal on the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene site to search for rat inspection data.

Now That You Know How to Apartment Hunt in NYC, You’re Ready to Find Your Perfect Place!

New York City is an incredible hub of culture, finance, education, and so much more. It’s no wonder so many people want to live there!

While there are a lot of benefits of city living, one of the drawbacks is that apartment hunting in NYC can be competitive, stressful, and exhausting. Learning as much as you can about the process before you start can help ensure that you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Did you find this article on how to apartment hunt in NYC interesting? If so, be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more fascinating and informative content!