Apartment Hunting Tips
posted by Erika Massey
This fall, I am entering my junior year at LIM. I decided that I wanted to get an apartment. At first, my friend asked if anyone was looking for an apartment, because her current roommate was moving out. This didn’t work out, but I decided to reach out to people to see if they were looking for a roommate. Then ta-da! My friend said she would love to be my roommate. So, the search began.
Now we have moved into our cute and cozy apartment that is between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. We are in love with the space and vibe of our area. Here are my tips to finding a great apartment.
Things you should know
Most New York landlords require that a tenant earn an annual salary of 40 to 50 times the monthly rent or a guarantor(s) who makes 80-100 times the monthly rent.Make sure to check if the the landlord also requires that the guarantor lives in the tri-state area.
If you decide to work with a broker, know that they will usually charge a fee.
Advertised rent price might not be the actual rent. Also, consider that there will be utilities costs such as water, electricity, and internet. A good estimate is to add about $100 to the rent.
3D Virtual tours are great, but I suggest an in person tour so you can get a sense of the space.
Questions you should ask yourself while hunting.
Do you want a roommate or roommates?
This is key because it can change your budget, must haves and it means when you are looking, you are looking as a team.
Still looking for a roommate? Here is a list of roommate matching websites. https://www.tribecahouseny.com/uncategorized/10-best-apps-finding-roommate-in-nyc/
If you are a freshman, reach out to your OL and ask if they know anyone or post in the Facebook group chat. I know this class has a class Instagram, you could always ask to put an ad on their story.
What is your budget?
This should be a factor that does not change through the process.
What are must haves for the apartment?
Make a list. This list is your baseline of what the apartment necessities are for you. Now, don’t say it has to have a gym when you have a low budget.
The must haves should be something like is it near a subway station, how secure or safe the place is, and how much space you want. You have to be a realist in this department but do not settle. There are plenty of diamonds in the ruff.
What areas am I interested in living in?
NYC has 5 boroughs, and they all have different vibes and cultures. I will tell you going outside Manhattan does save money. The Bronx is far cheaper and as long as it is not deep in the Bronx, it is safe. Brooklyn has this hipster vibe, and Queens can be a pretty easy commute by the subway. Though if you are looking for places in Manhattan, consider Harlem, China Town, or The Heights (which is the top portion of the Westside).
Red Flags and what you should look out for
Make sure to take pictures and measurements while on your tour. Along with that, check for major appliances and a functioning smoke detector. Also, check cell reception.
Ask if utilities are included. Most won’t, but then ask the average monthly bill. Like I mentioned before, it might be about another $100.
Check for any signs of rodents. Hate to break it to you there probably will be cockroaches. Congrats you’re a New Yorker!
Spend a day in the neighborhood. This will give you a sense of how safe it is and also where everything is. Look for parks, 24hr places and street lighting to know what it would be like at night. Also, if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, you can immediately remove that apartment from your list.
Be ready to act fast
New York City apartments go fast so if you find an apartment you love, you need to be ready act then. You should have your documents ready. For me, I had to show my state ID (many will ask for passport), my transcript, fall schedule and my most recent bank statement. My Dad had to show ID, last 2 bank statements, pay stubs and proof of employment. I also put a down payment down to hold the apartment so that the broker stopped showing the apartment to new people.
Hope this helps you find an apartment. New York City is a magical place and the perfect campus. Check out these websites below for apartments. Happy apartment hunting!