The best 10 tips for finding an apartment in NYC

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June 18, 2020
any tips for finding an apartment in nyc?

With how competitive the real estate market in NYC, you may be wondering “how do I even find a good apartment at all?” We’re here with all the tips and tricks so you can score a space you love!

1. Start your search early

So how do you find an apartment in NYC? Especially during the hot real estate seasons of spring and summer, the best thing to do is to start your apartment search early. This means looking into listings and properties in different neighborhoods at least 6 weeks to a month in advance before your planned move.

While you won’t necessarily be committing to a space a month and a half before you want to move, it can help you get an idea of how certain neighborhoods look like and their average price ranges for apartments. This will help you better narrow down and settle on a space in the upcoming weeks.

2. Have a budget in mind

Getting an idea of how much apartments cost in certain boroughs and neighborhoods are important, but knowing your own financial situation and budget is essential. Housing and the cost of living in NYC is a lot higher compared to many other cities in the United States, so money has a tendency to go fast. It’s best to calculate how much rent you can afford beforehand so you can narrow down your search and not waste time with spaces out of your budget.

This can also help you figure out which apartments you are qualified for in terms of income expectations by landlords so you can better focus on finding the perfect place.

Tips for Apartment Hunting in New York City
This Brooklyn Heights listing is a full-floor apartment: 67 Livingston Street, #3 Brooklyn Heights, New York

3. Get to know the neighborhoods you like

If you’re new to NYC or want to move to a different area in the city, researching neighborhoods are important. This is because you want to make sure you’re living in an area where you feel comfortable and safe. You also want to be sure that the neighborhood meets your personal lifestyle needs such as transportation options, nearby stores, outdoor spaces, and much more. You can start off by deciding what borough you want to live in and then narrow down to a few neighborhoods that catch your eye. 

Localize is a great resource to help you get to know the surrounding area of an apartment building. Our insights will give you information on transportation, crime rate, schools, construction sites, essential stores, outdoor spaces, places to go out, and much more. After doing initial research on Localize, you can then choose to physically go out to that neighborhood to visit at different times of day, get to know the area, and even talk to locals on their opinion of the area. You can also travel your commute route to see how it would feel to commute to and from work. This is important since it’s a route you would have to take daily.

If you’re curious about the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, we have an article to help you decide between the two. Or maybe you’re interested in living in Queens, then Long Island City can be a great option.

4. Make a list of apartment must-haves

What building amenities and must-haves do you need? Do you have pets? Do you need a doorman building? It can be a good idea to create a list of things you “must have” for your apartment such as central AC, a doorman, eat-in kitchen, pet-friendly building, abundant natural light, elevator etc. As you visit apartments during your search, you can refer back to this list and if you find one that fits most of these criterias, then it’s probably the one.

It is important to keep in mind that this list is just for reference and it is rare to find an apartment that checks everything off your must-haves list. As you apartment hunt, make sure to keep an open mind and see what things on your list you’re willing to compromise or trade off for more important needs. Sometimes you may be surprised that the apartment you choose isn’t what you thought you wanted, but is exactly what you needed.

How do I find a good apartment in NYC?
This Manhattan apartment comes fully furnished & is walking distance from Central Park: 106 Central Park South, #17L Midtown, New York

5. Prioritize the style you like

Do you have a preferred apartment building style? Do you want to live in a prewar or postwar building? If you have a specific style of architecture in mind for your future apartment, then it’s best to prioritize the style you like. Different parts of New York City can have different types of architecture so be sure to do your research and focus your apartment hunt in areas that have your preferred style of home. Some architectural styles you can find in NYC include Beaux Arts, Art Deco, Italianate, Postmodern, and Deconstructivism.

6. Search online

The most effective way to search for apartments in NYC is by utilizing Localize. Rather than visiting 20 different apartments and realizing the spaces aren’t for you, you can better use your time by first narrowing down your search on Localize.

Localize’s insights tells you the truth about every listing and can help you filter out apartments that don’t fit your budget and must-haves. These insights on listings include building information such as if there are violations, complaints, or a broken elevator, neighborhood information such as transportation, schools, crime rate, construction sites nearby, how much natural sunlight the apartment gets, building amenities, and much more specific data related to the surrounding areas. 

With Localize, you can also filter your search based on needs, such as pet-friendly areas, located on a tranquil street, low crime rates, and near high-rated schools. You can also filter based on price, number of beds and baths, types of amenities, square footage, and more. With Localize’s advanced search and algorithms, you can narrow down your potential apartments to ones that perfectly fit you and your lifestyle.

apartments for rent nyc
This Brooklyn apartment is steps from Brooklyn Heights Promenade & The Brooklyn Bridge Park: 147 Columbia Heights, #8 Brooklyn Heights, New York

7. Decide if you need a broker

If you have a busy lifestyle, apartment hunting on your own can be difficult. Rather than trying to search on your own with the limited time you have, it can be a good idea to hire a broker. By using a broker, they can help you search for apartments that fit your budget and lifestyle. However, keep in mind that getting a broker also comes with a price tag so be sure you can afford to hire one with your budget.

Additionally, many landlords utilize brokers to find tenants for their spaces. If you end up renting that space out, you will also have to pay the broker’s fee even if you found the space yourself. To ensure you don’t pay a broker’s fee for your new space, you can look for no-fee listings in NYC. Through Localize, you can filter your search by clicking “show no fee only” to see all listings without a broker’s fee.

8. Save enough money for the deposit and fees

If you’re a first time renter in New York City, then you may not know that signing a lease for an apartment requires more than just a signature. Renting out an apartment comes with a few fees which includes first month’s rent, the security deposit, the application fee, and the broker’s fee if it isn’t a no fee apartment. It is important that you save up for a few months before your move in order to afford these initial expenses and calculate it into your initial budget when apartment hunting.

how to rent out an apartment in nyc
This Upper East Side listing is a no fee apartment: 501 East 74 Street, #3E Upper East Side, New York

9. Decide on the size based on your lifestyle

Depending on if you’re living alone, with a significant other, or with roommates, your needed space can differ. The size of an apartment can also be important depending on if you’re working from home or need a space at home dedicated to work or an office.

Based on your needs and your budget, it is important to decide beforehand how big of a space you want and how many bedrooms you’ll need. Keep in mind that the typical NYC apartment is quite small and the larger the space, the more it’ll cost. However, this differs between boroughs where larger spaces in Brooklyn and Queens are cheaper than in Manhattan.

10. Get all your documents together

With the high demand for housing in NYC, apartments tend to go fast especially during the spring and summer seasons. This means if you’re interested in an apartment, odds are that other people are too. Before you start your search, it is a good idea to get all your documents ready beforehand so you don’t miss out on your dream apartment when the time comes to submit an application for it.

Some of these documents include 2 months of bank statements, 2 months of pay stubs, last 2 years of tax returns, landlord reference letter, letter of employment, and scanned photo ID. By getting your needed documents together, you can act quickly when the time comes and you find the apartment you want.

how to rent an apartment in nyc as a student
This Queens apartment is walking distance from Gantry Plaza State Park on LIC’s waterfront: 2-14 50 Avenue, #406W Long Island City, New York

With summer approaching and the reopening of New York City in progress, we hope these ten tips for apartment hunting will help you find your dream home without too much stress. As always, stay safe and happy apartment hunting!

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