NYC Apartment Moving Checklist

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So you decided to move to the Big Apple, eh? Congrats, and welcome to the city! Your first order of business (besides landing a job…but we’re going to assume you have that under control), is to find a place to live. This can be intimidating, time consuming, and all out frustrating for even locals who have to find a new place…let alone if you’re moving here from out of state. Below we’ve corralled our best tips for surviving the apartment hunt…and ending up with a place to call your own.

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1. Figure out your Budget (& if that Includes a Roommate or Living Solo

Your first order of business before hitting the streets is to figure out a realistic budget. It’s recommended that you spend no more than 30 percent of your income on rent, so do the math, and see what you’re working with.

Let’s say you have $1500 a month to spend on rent. You now have two options: start looking for places you can afford solo, or start looking for a roommate to share a space with. Obviously both have their pros and cons. If you are living solo, chances are you will be either in an outer borough or an up-and-coming neighborhood for that amount, whereas if you had a roommate you could afford to be more central in Manhattan…but you also carry the risk of living with someone you’ve never met, who may or may not have similar habits as you. Either are totally doable situations (trust us, millions of New Yorkers have gone through this same conundrum before you and came out fine on the other end!)

If you end up going the roommate route, check out Symbi, which is a site that reminds us a lot of Match.com…but for roommates. You fill out a survey about the technical stuff (your budget, neighborhood preferences), but also things such as your sleep schedule and cleanliness, and the website matches you potential perfect roomies.

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How To Find A Roommate In NYC

Sharing rent and living expenses with a roommate is a financial decision many New York City renters take advantage of. With average one-bedroom apartments priced higher than other cities, keep these tips in mind as you safely start your roommate search in The Big Apple!

2. Get your Paperwork Ready

“Paperwork?”, you may ask. “I’m applying for an apartment, not for a grad school program!” Again, we say, welcome to New York! Things are done differently here than in most parts of the country, starting with the fact that you will need to typically be earning a yearly salary that’s at least 40 times the monthly rent, so for a $3,000 a month apartment, you’ll need to be pulling in 120K a year, and have a letter from your company stating this.

Obviously, all folks moving to the city do not have this luxury, so you’ll need to have a guarantor to co-sign your lease. If you don’t have a parent or person able to do this, you can turn to a company such as Insurent, which will guarantee you for a fee.

Along with a letter from your employer or the paperwork from your guarantor, you’ll also need to bring: bank statements, a clear copy of a photo ID, and once you find your dream apartment, be ready to have a certified check for the first month’s rent and one month of rent for the security deposit.

3. Figure out if you are Going to Find an Apartment with or without a Broker

In NYC, brokers typically charge a fee of at least one month’s rent, so there’s definitely the financial side to consider. However, the perks of having a broker are that they can set up appointments immediately for you, know the neighborhoods, are often privy to apartments not publicly listed, and also know which landlords have a bit more wiggle room when it comes to having a tenant with no credit history.

Without a broker, you’re likely going to be perusing listings on sites like Craigslist, which is totally fine, but just takes a lot more man power on your end–plus waiting for people to get back to you, only to often hear that the apartment has already been taken. Personally, I’ve done it both ways (for my total of 8 apartment moves in NYC!), and I’d say, if you have the money for the broker’s fee, it’s definitely worth it. A company I’ve used a few times and been very happy with is Corcoran, and if you’re looking for a recommendation for a specific broker Nikki Thomas is fantastic.

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4. Before committing, Do a Thorough Sweep of the Apartment and Neighborhood

So you’ve found a roommate, got your dad to guarantee you, teamed up with a broker, and found the perfect apartment? Kudos! But before handing over any checks and signing any dotted lines, we suggest doing one last sweep to make sure everything is, in fact, ideal. For example, how’s the water pressure? Do you get cell phone reception in the apartment? How close (or far away) is the nearest subway station? Is there a Duane Reade nearby for late night emergencies? Are you really going to be ok trekking up and down a 5 story walkup every time your pooch has to potty? These may seem trivial, but I can promise you the “dream” midtown apartment I lived in where the hot water completely disappeared after 5 minutes in the shower? I certainly didn’t renew that lease!

Best of luck on your search, and welcome to New York!

Do you have any apartment survival tips for folks moving to NYC? Share with us on Facebook and Twitter!

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