How to Find an Apartment for Rent in New York City

Rent search New York City

Are you moving to New York and don’t know where to start your apartment hunt? Renting a perfect apartment in NYC can be stressful. There’s no place in the world quite like New York. The city never sleeps. It has plenty to offer to everyone, from the beauty of Manhattan’s skyscrapers, iconic big apple, bright lights of the Broadway to the best restaurants, nightclubs, and museums. It is no wonder that NYC is the most populous city in the USA and also the most expensive one. According to Zumper, the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in New York City is $1,829.

Here are 10 tips to make your New York apartment hunt easier-

1. Start online rent research early

If you are seriously considering renting an apartment in NYC, start your research early. Good apartments can be gone in a split second. Online rent websites like Zumper can help you to not only find the best apartment but also help you close the deal quickly and efficiently. During your commute or idle time, you can get a head start with the user-friendly website layout of Zumper to easy to filter apartments for rent in NYC by neighborhood, price range, the number of bedrooms, pet friendly, and amenities.

Real-time alerts would help you access new rentals. You can set an alert on Zumper to get notifications when a new listing is posted and reserve apartments online. To save time and quickly close the deal, you can submit digital rental applications and credit reports online.

2. Take a Virtual Tour of NYC Apartments

Covid-19 measures across the USA and remote lifestyle have made virtual home tours gain priority over in-person visits. An online home tour provides you an opportunity to get a real feel for the apartment you love. You can narrow down your search to only those apartments with online virtual tours and allow for virtual lease signing. Platforms such as Zumper supports both video and 3D home tours on individual apartment listing pages.

3. Estimate your Budget

It is expensive to live in New York. It is crucial to estimate the cost associated with renting an apartment in New York City. You should not spend more than one-third of your annual income on home rent. Landlords in New York City expect renters to earn a monthly paycheck that is at minimum 40 times the monthly rent. The initial budget required to rent an apartment can be very high. You will most likely need to deposit the first and last month’s rent and an additional one month’s rent as a security deposit.

A rent calculator for New York City can be a good starting point.

Set your budget in order of priority for the neighborhood, the apartment size (one- or two-bedroom apartment), and features such as a large living area, home office, great views, commute distance, and so on.

4. Choose the right neighborhood for the best NYC Experience

While picking the neighborhood check for the subway line and neighborhood noise from bars or rooftops.

Some of the most popular neighborhood in New York City are Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, Financial District, Midtown East, Murray Hill, Chelsea, Tribeca, Downtown Brooklyn, Fort Greene, Greenpoint, The Bronx, Astoria, Long Island City, Williamsburg, Central Harlem, and East Village.

For students Columbia off campus housingNYU off campus housing, and Barnard off campus housing are great places to look for apartments near NYC colleges.

5. Get Ready for Paperwork

Get your documents ready as soon as you are prepared to move to New York. Apart from a photo ID such as a driver’s license or a passport, the paperwork that show your credit history and finances such as a letter of employment on company letterhead with your salary and start date, last two pay stubs, last two bank statements, and tax return for last two years are very important.

In the absence of financial documents, you will need to have a guarantor responsible for your rent if you default on rent. As a general rule in New York, a renter needs to earn at least 40 times the rent, which implies that the guarantor you choose should have an income of 80 times the rent. If your guarantor lives in the tri-state area, you can negotiate for better terms.

Obtain recommendation letters to prove your credentials as a respectful tenant. Reference letter from the previous landlord needs to state that you paid your rent on time. Additional letters from the people in your personal and professional life that project your image in good light as a responsible individual with good behavior can go a long way in tilting the balance in your favor.

6. Manage your Music and Pets

It is normal for landlords to hesitate to rent the unit to people they believe would cause lots of noise and disturbances. If you mention your affinity for music instruments, jam sessions, house parties, or hints about a reckless lifestyle that can disrupt building, it will raise red flags about you.

Apartments that are marked as pet-friendly also have restrictions for dogs above 30- or 50-pounds weight. Some landlords would also like to have documents for vaccination and insist that your pet get screened for behavior, temperament, etc. to avoid any trouble in the building.

 7. Consider renting a condo or co-op

If you are plan to rent a place to stay in New York permanently, a condo can be a cheaper and high-quality option. The application process for condos can be cumbersome, and you would need approval from both the board and the owner, but you might find it beneficial in the long term.
If you want to rent on a temporary basis, co-op buildings are also a cheaper option. Owners are restricted from renting out the units for two years every 7 or 10 years. You might also be prohibited from having pets or using amenities like bike storage, roof deck, or gym.

8. Negotiate your lease for building amenities

Your lease should include details about access and fees for amenities such as roof deck, gym, bike storage, or other amenities. You can negotiate for lower rents in exchange for removing amenities or get a waiver.

9.  Evaluate building for child-friendliness

If you are moving to New York with family, consider the kid-friendliness and other family requirements. Make sure there are good local schools, parks, and other avenues of recreation for children. Check for the crime rate and offenders list. A good sign of family-friendly buildings is the presence of family-sized apartments and playroom.

10. Know your options for short-term rentals

Short term rentals are an excellent choice for people who want to live in New York city temporarily. If you are on a business trip or work assignment, looking for a new job, extended vacation, or need to find an apartment in an emergency, a short-term rental apartment can be found for less than $100 a night. You can renew your short-term lease on a weekly or monthly basis. Make sure to negotiate and read your month-to-month rental agreement carefully.

Once you have signed the lease on an NYC apartment of your choice, understand your rights as a tenant. Know your rights and ways to file complaints in case of a bedbug infestation, or problems with electricity, heat, and hot water for a quick remedy. Being a New Yorker is fun. Enjoy every second of it. Happy apartment hunting!