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Relocating to New York City? Best Inside Tips for Finding an Apartment (even for locals)


by Kirby Sommers
August 2014
 
 
You’ve decided you’re going to make the move to New York City, the Big Apple, the place where no one sleeps – but you’ve got to find an apartment. How to do this?

First, arm yourself with the rental market conditions in the city as well as average rents. From my experience in helping people relocate from out of the city or out of the country I realize that even those who feel they know how much a studio or a one bedroom costs are usually way off. 

Why? Because most people gather information from websites like Craigslist which is completely misleading offering mostly fake ads. Out of every 80 apartments posted maybe 1 listing is real. The others are bait and switch ads posted brokers (posing as owners) offering the “it’s too good to be true” deal.

Here’s a breakdown of the median rents in the city as of the writing August 2014:

-Median rent for a doorman studio is $2,953
-For a one bedroom in doorman $4,210
-For a studio elevator is $2,450
-For a one bedroom elevator $3,386
-For a walk up studio $2,200
-For a walk up one bedroom $2,800

These are jaw-dropping prices, but there are still competitively priced rentals to be found. Even in the below $2,000 price range and on up into the $5,000 range. Will you find them on your own? No, the odds aren’t in your favor.

Why?

Because the rental market in New York City is unlike any other rental market anywhere else. It doesn’t compare to any other big city. It is an anomaly. Good apartments last for about a nanosecond in the city. Bad apartments will last a tad longer. Not much longer, just a but because truth is there’s so much demand for such a limited number of apartments which make even bad ones rent quickly. 

Don’t let these numbers deter you, though, like I said, there are still deals to be found – you just need a little help (via my AptStar Program) – unless you want to shell out as much as 15% in broker fees to a someone just to do you the favor of walking you to an apartment and opening the door for you.

Knowing when to actually search in person for an apartment is another area where first time apartment hunters in New York make big mistakes.

The ideal time to start looking is about 30-45 days in advance of your desired move in date. And note that I wrote “in person”. Never, never, never, rent an apartment sight unseen. You will regret this. Even if you don’t know one single person in New York City, it is in your best interest to spend at least a couple of days in a hotel in order to go look at apartments.

I’ve had numerous requests from first time renters that I find them an apartment before they arrive. My response has always been NO!! You must see the apartment in person. Please heed my advice or you will regret it. Why? Because once you sign a lease you are stuck there for at least one year.

Try breaking a lease in New York City and you’ll find yourself in court and having a blotch on your rental history with a bad landlord reference – and this you really want to avoid at any cost. Remember this: once you go to court with a landlord in New York City – no other landlord will ever rent to you. You might as well pack up and go back home. So, invest the small amount of money on a hotel in order to avoid making any rental mistakes. In the long run, you’ll be happy you did. And you’ll enjoy both your new apartment and the city.

The other thing most first time renters (even seasoned renters) have a problem with is the laundry list of documents your new prospective landlord is going to want to see before determining whether to rent the apartment to you or to someone else.

Keep in mind apartments in the city have multiple people applying for them. In order to get approved, you must get the paperwork right. If you see an apartment you like and you’re not ready to submit the requested documentation, the apartment will in all probability be gone by the time you return.

There is no second chance for getting the right apartment at the right time in the right way at price that works for you. If you want to avoid having a nervous breakdown, click on AptStar (above) and I’ll be happy to help.

If you plan on going full steam ahead all on your own, you're going to end up being completely frustrated and taking an apartment you would have never considered when you said to yourself: "Hey, I'm moving to New York!" Just don't say I didn't warn you.




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