Renting an Apartment in New York City

Renting an Apartment in New York City

Published: 21 Oct, 2019

Last Updated: 30 Jan, 2023

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Renting an apartment in New York City can be a nightmare. Finding the perfect place in a neighborhood you prefer is work on its own, especially if you are working within a budget.

There are literally thousands and thousands of active online listings to comb through. And because a lot is asked of the would-be renter, you could spend hours scouring through it all only to find that you do not meet the threshold for the apartment you want.

There is a pile of paperwork to dig through before putting pen to paper, and if you would rather skip the broker and deal directly with landlords and property managers, you will realize what an exhausting process it can turn out to be.

The Big Apple is no doubt one of the most complex and highly competitive real estate markets in the country. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the market when renting an apartment in New York City.


1. Establish Which Part of the City is Ideal for You

The first thing you want to do when looking for a place to settle in NYC is to have an idea of which borough you want to live in.

Would you prefer Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx, or Queens? Once you do, home in on a few neighborhoods within your preferred borough that you think would make a good fit. If you are within the vicinity, consider walking the neighborhood both during the day and night to get a good feel of it.

The good thing about targeting your search before it begins is it increases your chances of success given how vast a city this is.


2. Prioritize Your Must-Haves

When searching for an apartment, there are a couple of things each of us considers must-haves.

For some, it’s an eat-in kitchen. For others, it’s access to an express subway stop. Others would prefer a walk-up over a doorman apartment (or the other way around) etc. etc.

Drawing a list of priorities will definitely make the search easier as you are likely to come across myriad offerings.

Importantly, though, don’t forget to go in with an open mind as you might be forced to make concessions along the way. That’s because it’s not easy to find the perfect apartment that boasts all the small details on your wish list.


3. Line Up a Guarantor If You Need One

There are instances when you might need to use a guarantor or cosigner when renting an apartment in New York City. When you have poor credit, for instance, or when you don’t earn at least 40 times the monthly rent – two requirements by most landlords and leasing agents in NYC.

In the event you do not have a guarantor, you might need to find workarounds to this.

This could entail saying, offering to pay higher security or rent to make up for it, finding a leaseholder who can take you in as a roommate, or even seeking a guarantor for hire that provides the service for a fee.


4. Check the Building Amenities Against Your Lease

If your apartment building offers amenities like a gym, roof deck or bike storage, it is important to double-check that your lease is inclusive of access and covers any fees that may be levied. Otherwise, consider asking the landlord or management company to waive the fees for you.


5. Time Your Search

Timing can be everything when renting an apartment in New York City. Try limiting your search to within a 30-60-day timeline ahead of your expected move-in date.

The downside to doing your search many months in advance is you risk embarking on a fool’s errand because chances are your ideal apartment might be scooped up by the time you are ready to move in. As well, leaving it too late could leave you with fewer choices.

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