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5 NYC Apartment Hunting Tips You Need to Know

Finding an apartment to rent in New York City involves a time commitment, a truckload of fees, and a busy weekend of touring the properties. For those of you who are unfamiliar or struggling with the process, here are 5 tips that you need to know before starting your search in the city.

Tip 1: Set your priorities.

First, take some time to make a game plan. You should consider what time of year you’re looking to start a lease. Studies show that December and January are the best months to search for a new place in the city (lower rents!) if you’re hoping to save both money and time.

Then, set a hard maximum rent price. Think about all your current expenses — from your Netflix subscription to your transportation card — in relation to your income, and make a decision on a monthly rent price you are unable to exceed. Typically, housing should take up about 30 percent of your monthly income (before taxes).

Lastly, make a list of priorities. Do you prefer convenience, like having a subway station nearby? Do you need in-unit laundry or lots of storage space? Do you want to live in a community-driven neighborhood? You can show that list to your broker or real estate agent, making it easier for them to narrow down the search.

Tip 2: Do the right research.

There are tons of resources and websites you can tap into. To start, you can browse apartment listings on Craigslist, Facebook groups, Naked Apartments, Apartments.com, StreetEasy, or Zumper to get a lay of the land. Find out what the average rent in the different boroughs are if there are no-fee apartments available, and learn about rent-stabilized vs. rent-controlled buildings.

It’s important to first educate yourself on what’s out there. It’ll also be helpful to reach out to multiple real estate agents and landlords, and not commit to a single person, so you can avoid any unwanted fees involved.

Tip 3: Talk to your neighbors.

When you go to see an apartment or the neighborhood in person, try to get to know the people there and find out some details that online listings and real estate agents don’t mention. Ask your neighbors some questions: about the building, the noise, odors, bed bug history, neighborhood crime statistics, nearby restaurants or attractions, what the super is like, and even what their rent is. Your neighbors, especially those who’ve been there for a while, will have firsthand (and honest) information to weigh in on your decision.

Tip 4: Prepare all your documents ahead of time.

As you’ve probably heard, apartments disappear from the market in a matter of hours. Get ahead of the game, and have all the necessary documents to apply with you. That includes a photo ID, a letter of employment on your company’s letterhead with your salary and start date, copies of recent pay stubs, bank statements from the previous 3 months, and the last year or two of tax returns. Even though the property management company will most likely run a credit check, it won’t hurt to check your own credit history beforehand.

Speaking of preparation, also have the money ready. Most places will require a security deposit, in addition to a month’s rent up front, so make sure that amount is available for you to transfer right away.

Tip 5: Move into Common.

Simplify your NYC apartment search by moving in to Common’s beautiful coliving homes in the city. At Common, you won’t ever have to pay a broker fee, and your all-inclusive rent will cover a private bedroom, a furnished living space, utilities, in-unit laundry, household essentials, and amazing amenities. Not to mention, we have flexible leases, ranging from 6 months to a year, in which you have the option to transfer to our other homes across major U.S. cities (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and more).

Your lease also comes with free event tickets to major happenings in New York, such as Broadway shows and wine tasting, as well as exclusive discounts at nationally loved brands including Classpass and Talkspace.

Make your city living experience convenient, and take a free tour today.

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