It’s no secret that finding good apartments for rent in NYC is almost like going on a unicorn hunt. It can be time-consuming, exhausting, and just plain frustrating. While there’s no way to take all of the pain out of finding digs in the Big Apple, there are a few things you can do to put yourself ahead of the game – and the competition (other apartment hunters) – in order to find that great place as quickly as possible. Here are five tips to make your search easier:
1. Have your paperwork – and your guarantor’s, if applicable – ready. This means know exactly what your budget is, pull your credit report, and just to be on the safe side arm yourself with the following:
- Color copies of your driver’s license and passport (if you have one)
- Recent paystubs
- Two years of tax return documents
- Contact information for professional as well as personal references
Keep in mind that if you don’t earn a yearly income of 30-50 times the monthly amount of the rent, you may need a co-signer or guarantor. If this is the case you will need all of this information for that person as well.
2. Start looking at least 30 days ahead of your anticipated move date. Apartments for rent in NYC move much more quickly than across the rest of the country, and building owners usually have about a 30-45 day lead time in terms of knowing about upcoming vacancies, so you’ll want to swoop in there as soon as something comes available.
3. Be flexible. If you keep your mind open to possibilities other than the absolute hottest, most popular areas, you might find a real treasure. Boroughs on the outskirts of trendy neighborhoods – like Bushwick, and Prospect Heights – frequently have as much as or more to offer than the seemingly more desirable locale you originally wanted. And to boot, the prices are almost always lower.
4. Invest some time in the neighborhood – some apartments for rent in NYC may seem like a great deal, but when you hang around for a bit you might see that the traffic at your normal leaving-for-work time in the morning will make life a nightmare, or that at night the place doesn’t appear as safe as you thought. You’re going to be spending a lot of time there, as well as coming and going frequently – you want a good picture of the day-to-day aspects of living there.
5. Be skeptical. Unfortunately, the insanely competitive apartment market in New York makes it necessary to keep your guard up. “Cozy”, “quaint”, and “charming” are often red flags for places that aren’t as great as the broker makes them sound. Also, watch out for the bait-and-switch – you go to see a fabulous sounding apartment and suddenly it’s “unavailable”, but the broker suggests you look at an inferior unit “since we’re already here.”
Follow these common sense steps and before you know it you’ll be enjoying your new pad and no longer on the long list of people scrambling to find apartments for rent in NYC!