I’ve mentioned it a couple times now, but I’m actually moving AGAIN this year to move in with my sister who just graduated from college. While I’m kind of excited to have a roommate again, the process was not without blood, sweat and tears. We had a few moments where I was convinced we would end up stuck in my sister’s sublet in the Bronx next to her university.
Moving in New York, whether it’s your first time to the city or your 15th, requires a ton of patience and positive thinking. Especially in this marketplace, where everyone is staying in their apartments to keep pre-recession rents, it can seem impossible to find an apartment on a budget. Here are a few pieces of advice I can offer after just going through the process myself.
Plan your budget, and stick with it – Though I was moving in with my sister and could technically split costs, I was dead-set on finding a place without paying a broker’s fee. I quickly realized this would take MUCH more legwork on our end, but to me, it was worth saving the $4,000+ that brokers can cost. We also decided quickly what our max rent would be, and how we would split the rent. Neither of us wanted to live beyond our means, so we decided which areas of town were most likely to have apartments in our budget (hint, I am not yet in the swanky West Village. One day!).
Do some searching yourself – Even if you are open to using a broker, don’t discount some of the places you can find by doing some searching on your own. My sister and I finally found our apartment on StreetEasy, but I found my current place on Craigslist and the one before that on RentHop. Beware of listings that look too good to be true – they most certainly are. Also be sure to ask around to friends and colleagues. If a friend loves her building, she is usually more than willing to share their landlord’s name to help your search.
Don’t discount the boroughs - My sister is becoming a teacher in Harlem, so we really couldn’t live anywhere but Manhattan to suit both our work commute needs. However, I have lived in the Bronx while at school and commuted into Manhattan, and it was beyond fine. I also have close friends who live in Brooklyn and Queens, and can’t imagine living anywhere else. And of course, A is OBSESSED with the ‘Boken. Each part of New York City proper has its redeeming qualities (and usually, lower rents), so be sure to check out all areas that are within reason for you.