Renting in NYC

I mean, its not that hard to find just some place to live. The tricky part is finding somewhere worth the money you are paying -and trust me, in this city it would always be a lot-.

From the beginning, whenever I told someone I was looking an apartment to rent in New York, I got different answers going from “oh i’m so sorry for you” to “the last time I thought of moving somewhere else was when looking for an apt”, but the point was always the same: it was really hard.

I mean, its not that hard to find just some place to live. The tricky part is finding somewhere worth the money you are paying -and trust me, in this city it would always be a lot-.

If you are on your own, I think the best option is just to rent a room in someones apartment. But if, like me, you already have roommates that you wanna live with, you’ll have to start the search for an apartment to rent. 

The process is a lot of work: It involves a lot research on neighborhoods -and being open to live in many of them-, A LOT of emails and texting with landlords and/or brokers, many viewings of places and some negotiating skills. But when you actually find ‘the one’, that’s it, the search was completely worth it! Your own place in NYC, as crazy as it sounds!

There are probably many things to know when you are about to start the search, but I’ll just point some basic tips for those just starting:

Know what you can afford

It doesn’t only means what you can actually pay, but what your salary allows you to. Most landlords will ask for an annual income -combined income of all tenants- of approximately 40 times the rent (!) and good credit score -which most of us, being international, don’t have- , but sometimes they will allow you to have a guarantor if you can’t meet the requirements on your own.

Rank your priorities

The perfect apartment is hard to find, specially if you are on a budget. So you will have to decide whats more important to you: lighting, big rooms, amount of bathrooms, neighborhood, etc. In my opinion, being relatively close to the subway is a must, specially on winter.

Go to see the apartment

Don’t ever rent a place only for the photos online. Always go to check the place. You might be surprised on how different it might actually look, and it’s always good to get a vibe of the neighborhood -go at different times of the day, if possible-.

Know the market

Knowing if you are renting on a higher or lower season might help you on how to act when seeing an apartment that you like. On high season if you see something that you like, take it, it wont last -but the good part is that you’ll have many options if that one doesn’t work out-. On a lower season you’ll have to choose between fewer apartments, but you’ll have some room to negotiate the price or some concessions.

 When to rent

In my opinion, the best moment to start looking for an apartment is a month before moving -that’s how much it took me to find mine-. Although, before that, you should make a lot of research, so that, when the moment comes, you are already an expert in the subject.

 Be aware of scams

When something seems to good to be truth, it probably is. There are many scams around, always do your research on landlords, brokers, etc., before giving money or your personal information to anyone.

It’s a lot of work, and it might be a bit tiring, but now that I am in my NYC apartment, I can tell you: it’s definitely worth it!

Clara Mastropietro


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