Bench Accounting

How I Found an Apartment in NYC Before I Arrived

I thought I would share a great resource for finding housing in New York City that I found was extremely easy.

Columbia University owns several buildings in the Morningside Heights area of Manhattan that they rent out to their graduate students. During the summer months, a lot of the students will sublet their apartments to other students, namely people doing exchanges or internships in the city.

Listings are posted here on this Columbia University managed the website. There are a variety of apartments, from studios to three bedrooms to dorm style rooms. It is easy to get in contact with a student who is offering a sublet. I personally skyped with four different people before deciding on one. Once you have agreed to sublet an apartment, there is an application form that you submit to Columbia University. It was a fairly simple process and we were approved within a week or so.

The time frame for sublets widely differs, anywhere from one to eight months. Move-in and move-out dates usually coincide with the school semester start and end dates, however, the students are usually quite flexible with actual dates. If your internship start and end dates happen to fall around semester start and end dates, this is a great resource to use. I have lived all over North America and used a lot of different websites for finding housing, such as Craigslist. However, it is difficult to tell if a place is trustworthy without first visiting it in person. At Columbia University, I was not worried about that and felt quite safe with my decision.

I am currently subletting one room of a two bedroom apartment in a beautiful prewar elevator building on a quiet tree-lined street close to the 110th Street subway station. It is only a 15-2o minute commute to Midtown Manhattan, where I work. There are lots of shops and restaurants along Broadway to buy groceries and hang out with friends. The Morningside Heights neighbourhood is also one of the safest in Manhattan.

I still cannot believe how easily I was able to find safe and affordable housing even before I got to New York. It was a relief to have an apartment to come home to the right when I stepped off the plane.

Shih-en Chang


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