Here’s the rundown on how you should go about tackling the big job of finding a New York City apartment that is right for you.
Time your visits
Since New York City rental inventory comes on the market 4-6 weeks before it’s available, it’s best to start visiting apartments around this time. Only during the slower winter months will you have more lead time.
Set up appointments
Contact a broker you see on any listing from your StreetEasy search (see screenshot below), indicate your timeframe and that you would like to power-visit a few apartments. Tell him your budget and living needs and perhaps he will show you other apartments that are not yet listed.
Also, feel free to contact multiple brokers who have listings you’re interested in. That’s right — you are not married to any one agent. This will also cast a wider net and provide you with a more comprehensive view of what’s available.
How many should you visit?
Aim to visit at least five apartments a day. Or, if you only have one day to search, you should try for at least seven. Visiting an apartment in New York City does not take as long as in other towns and cities because the places are smaller. But, if you plan on searching over multiple neighborhoods, that could take more time. Obviously, try to schedule your appointments according to neighborhood and apartment proximity to one another.
Documents you should bring
Remember, NYC apartments go fast, so come prepared. That means having the following documents with you during your apartment hunt:
- Three forms of ID (e.g., driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, Social Security card, etc.)
- Recent two bank account statements
- Two pay stubs
- Letter of employment
- First two pages of last year’s tax return
- Guarantor information (if applicable)
Make note of these things
Living in New York City is intense. You’re surrounded by people, smells and noises. Living here is trying and spaces can be tight – it’s just the way it is. So, keep these things in mind when looking at apartments:
- What is the entryway like and does it provide adequate lighting and security?
- What floor of the building is the apartment on? If it’s on the bottom floor, it’s important to consider the levels of street noise and security (e.g., make sure the windows have bars over them).
- Does the building have an elevator? If not, be wary of upper-level apartments — especially if you have a stroller. You’ll also be hauling groceries, packages and yourself up those stairs on a regular basis.
- If you have a pet, is the building pet-friendly?
- How is the garbage disposed of? Is the apartment located close to the communal garbage deposit area? If so, it could get smelly.
- Does it have a dishwasher?
- Is the washer/dryer in unit? Many apartments do not have them in unit so do not be alarmed or dismayed if you have to go to the basement to do your laundry, or even down the street!
- Is there adequate storage space? How big are the closets and the kitchen cabinets?
- Is there a window in the kitchen for ventilation?
- Does it have an air-conditioning unit? New York gets pretty hot in the summer months and there’s nothing worse than a hot apartment in the middle of summer in NYC.
- Are you looking out onto the interior shaftway? If so, the apartment may get limited lighting. Try to visit the apartment during the day to get a sense of the natural light.
- Do the windows offer privacy or are you looking directly into your neighbor’s bedroom.
- Are the bedrooms overlooking the street or the interior? Street-facing bedrooms will be louder and subject to more noise and pollution.
While you’re on the hunt, make sure you add StreetEasy’s mobile app to your smartphone so you can check apartment information as you go.
Find Your NYC Apartment
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