Moving to NYC Guide

Welcome to New York, the most populous city in the U.S. with 8.5 million residents. Whether you're a college student, post-grad or just moving to NYC to claim your piece of the Big Apple, use this housing guide to help you land an apartment in a neighborhood you like.

Calculate Affordability

Living and renting in NYC is expensive – rents are high and budgets are tight. Use the calculator below to see how much rent you can afford. Be aware that landlords require that your salary is 40 times your monthly rent. If the combination of your salary and your roommates’ does not meet that level, you might need a guarantor.

ROOMMATES

GROSS SALARY

$4,720

MONTHLY RENT LIMIT

$4,720

Rent Per Roommate

$2360 Per Roommate $2500 Security Deposit

ADDITIONAL UPFRONT COSTS

$2500 Broker's Fee $2500 Security Deposit

Find Neighborhood

New York City is made up of five boroughs and within each are distinct neighborhoods that have a mood and vibe all their own. Manhattan ranges from upper-crust living along Central Park on the Upper East Side to edgy, no-holds-barred tastes on the Lower East Side. Brooklyn offers a more casual lifestyle for the young and hip and when when you add in Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island, it’s all there for the taking.

Upper West Side

Manhattan

The UWS is a popular choice for newcomers and New Yorkers alike.  It has a casual, residential vibe, lots of green space, friendly bars and classic NYC cultural institutions and it’s a favorite backdrop for TV shows and rom-coms.

$2,900
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East Village

Manhattan

With tons of affordable bars and restaurants, a 24/7 nightlife and lots of rental options, the East Village is another popular neighborhood for young newcomers. Plus, living in the East Village gives you automatic local cred.

$3,150
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Harlem

Manhattan

In terms of affordabilty and proximity, Harlem is popular with many students and young professionals on a budget. Rentals are usually in older prewar buildings and are far less expensive than most Manhattan neighborhoods.

$2,000
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See our neighborhood guides for lifestyle info, maps, data and more

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Choose Living Style

Due to the high costs of rents, many people find roommates to help share costs. But if you prefer to go it alone, there are a few options. See three living styles below.

Find a roommate and apartment

For this option, you will first need to find a roommate and ideally one who is compatible. Get tips on finding a roommate. Then, you can search for apartments together and split the upfront costs together, too.

Get your own apartment

This is perhaps the priciest and most challenging option because you are going it alone and laying out the costs yourself. But, just think: You can do what you want when you want and there is no one to bother you.

Find a sublet or vacant room

What’s good about this option is that you won’t have to pay a broker’s fee and you’re not tied to a lease. Also, the utilities will already be set up and you just move in. Read tips on finding a sublet.

Decide Fee vs. No-Fee

In NYC, there are two main types of rentals: Fee and no-fee listings. Fee means you pay a real estate broker to find you a rental. No-fee means you rent through a management company and you do not pay a fee. A broker’s fee is one-month’s rent or anywhere from 8 to 15 percent of the full year’s lease.

Fee

Use an agent/broker

Pros

  • Convenience
  • Save time searching
  • Agent handles appointments, paperwork
  • Access to “hidden” apartments

Cons

  • Big upfront expense
  • Working with someone you might not like
  • Potential for bait-and-switch
VS

No-Fee

Find an apartment in a managed building

Pros

  • No big upfront expense
  • Better managed buildings
  • You are in control
  • Newer buildings with amenities

Cons

  • Lots of work searching, calling, setting up appointments
  • Not seeing all apartments available
  • Generally higher rent costs

Apply & Sign Lease

Once you find the apartment you want, it’s important to move fast. That’s because it’s a competitive city and desirable apartments come on and off the market quickly. Before you submit an application, you’ll need to make sure you have the proper paperwork together (see charts below) and most importantly, you have a guarantor lined up.

Documents to Bring

  • Guarantor information (if applicable)
  • 3 forms of ID (e.g., driver's license, SSN card, birth certificate, student ID)
  • Checkbook
  • 2 pay stubs
  • 2 recent bank account statements
  • Personal references and a reference letter from previous landlord
  • Rental history, including dates, addresses and contact information for former landlords
VIEW AS PDF

Reviewing Your Lease

When it comes time to sign the lease, review it carefully:

  • Terms of lease: Is the rental length correct? (e.g., 6 months, 12 months, etc.) When can you move in?
  • Rent payment: What date do you pay? What are the late payment policies?
  • Guarantors: What is their responsibility if you fail to pay rent?
  • Superintendent: Get their contact info and kinds of repairs they do
  • Sidewalk care: When it snows, who is responsible for snow and ice removal?
  • Decorating: Can you paint walls or hang prints?
  • Security deposit: Look closely at cleaning costs and other fine print
VIEW AS PDF

NYC Living Tips

Now comes the fun part: Living in New York City! As you’ll quickly learn, it can be quite expensive and you might run into some issues with roommates, landlords and budgets. But, we’ve put together some tips to help you get through:

General Advice

Cheap Living

Landlords

Small Places

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