Finding a New York City apartment on a limited budget can be difficult at times, especially when you're working and going to grad school in one of the coolest (and most expensive!) cities in the world. Take it from someone who has lived on her own in Brooklyn...I have definitely done my fair share of apartment hunting.
When searching for an apartment the first thing you want to look at is your budget. What can you spend? Whether you are searching on your own or with a few roommates, it’s typically good to come up with a budget that works for you, your parents or roommates.
Even if you're working you might not make enough to get an apartment on your own, so you would need a guarantor. In my experience buildings have obviously wanted someone with good credit and a person that makes 100x the rent. But this rate can vary. The next thing you want to look at are low fee or no fee apartment buildings.
If you want to try and not use a broker, you can search these websites: cityreality.com, nakedapartments.com, and craigslist.com. All are very helpful and don’t require a broker or brokers fee. Looking for an apartment by owner is probably the best way to go because owners usually don’t charge any extra fees.
Also, you want to be prepared. This is NYC so apartments go fast and you don’t want to miss out on that one apartment you love that just so happens to fit your budget. Most owners or leasing offices want a lot of paperwork and the first month’s rent plus security upfront. Since apartments go fast they want all of this up front.
Best of luck in finding your perfect, affordable NYC apartment.