Wednesday, January 2, 2008

How to Find an Apartment in NYC (

So you want to move to New York City? Great, New York is one of the most happening cities in the world, but there's only one problem: where are you going to live?
As you might expect from a city with a population of over 8 million people, you've got options when it comes to places to live. There are lots of different ways to approach finding a place to live in New York. The best way to start is to get an idea of what you want before you start looking. Here's a few things to figure out before you start your search:

-What's your price range? Apartments in New York can be as expensive as you can imagine, but there are reasonable deals out there. Before you set out to find a place, figure out exactly how much you can spend. That will be your first barometer as to where you can look.

-What are you looking for in a living space? If you're moving to New York to go to grad school your needs will be quite different than an aspiring musician looking to hit the vibrant New York scene. You have to consider things like noise, sleep schedules, and lifestyles of the people who live near you. If you think living in a loft in Brooklyn where people party and play music all the time would be a lot of fun, but you work a 9-5 job, you have to be realistic and find someplace practical.

-Where do you want to live in the city? The New York metropolitan area is huge. You have to know where to look--Manhattan or the outer-boroughs, New Jersey or Connecticut. Check out a lot of neighborhoods. New York is a diverse place.

So, now you have an idea of where you want to look, how do you find a decent place? One good place to start is Craig's List. People in New York use Craig's List pretty universally. Everyday dozens of apartment listings are posted on Craig's List from every neighborhood in the Metro Area.
There are several ways to find a place on Craig's List. You can look for your own place through a broker, without a broker, you can find a sublet, or a share (an open spot in someone's apartment without signing onto the lease).
If you've got a friend (or two) with whom you want to live, and you're ready to sign a lease, finding a two or three bedroom in the neighborhood of your choice is the way to go. If you've got a well-paying job lined up in the city, and you can afford it, hiring a broker can pay off. If you've got a lot of money, and you're looking for a really nice place, a broker can find you one. If you're like the rest of us who've recently relocated to New York and can't spare an extra dollar, don't bother with a broker. You can find a good place on your own, and you'll save a bunch of money.
If you moved to the city by yourself and are looking for a cool place to live with some cool people, a share can work out great. I emphasize the word can however, since shares can be disasters. I found my place through the shares listings on Craig's List and I love my apartment and my roommates. By no means is that the norm though.

-Here's the way to find a good share: First of all, respond to a ton of listings. for every five to which you respond, one will get back to you. Then you have to go and meet your potential roomies. Prepare yourself to be judged. Being enthusiastic and looking nice never hurts. If you look like you're trying too hard, it can be a turn-off, but looking like a disinterested slob will get you nowhere. Most importantly, be yourself. You will be judged in the first minute you meet everybody, so it's all about first impressions. Make sure you get all the important info from your interviewers too: what their schedules are like, what they do for fun, if their habits match up with yours, etc. Also, pay attention to how the apartment looks. If the bathroom is dirty and the sink is full of dishes, that will be the case if and when you move in.

Finding a decent place to live in New York isn't a piece of cake, but it's certainly not unachievable. If you can, try and find some place temporary to stay during the transition. It's a lot harder to go see places and meet potential roommates when you're not in the area. Most of all, be picky. There's millions of places to live in and around the city. You'll be much happier in the long run if it takes you a couple extra weeks to find a place than if you move in somewhere for the sake of finding someplace, and you're miserable living there. Take your time and find the right place. It's worth the time and effort.

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