The Ultimate Guide to Renting in New York City
01 Introduction to renting in NYC

Vibrant, diverse, and perpetually in motion, the “city that never sleeps” is an exciting place to live and work. With hundreds of neighborhoods nestled into its five boroughs, there’s a place for everyone in NYC—the trick is figuring out how your desired lifestyle fits into the city itself.

New York is typically known as one of the more expensive cities in the US. That being said, its rental market is quite robust and packed with options. There are over 3 million occupied units in the city with plenty of turnover every month. Unlike most of the US, renters far outnumber homeowners—just over 2:1.1

Prepare for your NYC housing search by checking off this list of rental requirements:

Proof of income

1. Proof of income

Pay stubs, tax returns, and letters of employment are all helpful here.
Upfront fees

2. Upfront fees

Be prepared to pay an assortment of fees including a security deposit (usually one month’s rent), background and credit check application fee (usually $20 per person), and broker’s fees (oftentimes one month’s rent or 15% of annual rent).
Valid identification

3. Return what you borrowed

Ensure you have access to relevant documents like a valid driver’s license, passport, and social security card.

Depending on your income and the price of your New York City apartment, you may also need all the same documents for a guarantor, who can “guarantee” your rent if you don’t qualify on your own.

02 Cost of renting in NYC
Cost of renting in NYC

The average price for renting a studio apartment in the New York metro area currently sits at approximately $2,580/month.2 From single rooms in fully-furnished, shared apartments can have rent prices around $1,000/month to entire townhouses for twenty times that amount, NYC can undoubtedly cater to your unique situation (if you explore your options carefully).

With the high rental costs in NYC, it’s especially important to establish a rock-solid budget and stick to it. Here’s a widely accepted rule to base your budget on: your monthly rent should be equal to (or less than) one-fortieth of your annual income. If you can’t quite make that equation work, it’s still possible to rent—you may need to bring a guarantor into the mix or adjust your location, number of roommates, and desired amenities.

While rent may be the largest portion of your monthly expenses, there are other costs you’ll need to cover too: utilities, insurance, furniture, transportation, WiFi, laundry, food, and fun. Certain housing situations will include amenities to help offset these costs. For instance, Common’s New York City coliving homes come fully-furnished with utilities, on-site laundry, household essentials and WiFi already included. You’ll also find buildings with gyms, community lounges, coworking spaces, rooftop decks, and more.

03 Tips for finding an apartment in NYC

1. Give yourself plenty of time (but not too much)

Give Yourself
Most renters start apartment hunting about a month or two before their current lease is up, or before they’re looking to land in the city. Because tenants typically have to give their landlords 30 days' notice before moving out, many new units will pop up on the market about a month out. Before that, you may not find much that matches your target move-in date.

2. Make a list of must-haves

Make A List
NYC has no shortage of parks, restaurants, music venues, theaters, sporting facilities, and public transit options. Make sure you pinpoint the right combination for your lifestyle before you start apartment hunting.
Make A List
Maybe you’ve got a job lined up in the financial district, or family in Queens or Staten Island. Maybe in-building laundry is a dealbreaker, or you’re a member of a specific subculture that you want to be close to. Identify your needs, write them down, and stick to them—consider your commute, your desired lifestyle, the type of neighborhood you’d thrive in, and where your friends and community are based.

3. Prepare your budget and documents

Prepare Your Budget
Iron out all the details regarding your finances and the required  documents for rental applications ahead of time, and make a positive first impression on building owners and management.

4. Tour in person

Tour In Person
Whenever possible, tour prospective New York apartments in person ahead of signing a lease. Pictures and digital tours cannot capture the physical reality of a location, not to mention the feel of the neighborhood and local culture. That said, if you are moving from overseas or interstate and an in person tour is not possible, have the leasing agent give you a real time virtual tour so you can get a clear understanding of the layout of the space.

5. Recruit some assistance

NYC’s rental market is complex and ever-changing. Working with a realtor, broker, or agent when moving to New York City will offer the benefit of expertise, and likely lead to listings you’d miss on your own.

6. Keep an eye out for scams

Keep An Eye
Big city life comes with big-city concerns. Trust your instincts if something doesn’t feel right and guard your personal information carefully, and ensure that the companies and individuals you’re working with are worthy of your trust.

7. Stay on your toes

Stay On Your Toes
Proceed with caution, but be ready to act fast. Housing is competitive in New York, and that incredible listing posted today could be gone by tomorrow so if you find what you are looking for don’t hesitate to inquire or put in an application. 
04 Best neighborhoods for renting in NYC

Each of New York City’s boroughs contains a variety of neighborhoods. Explore a variety of neighborhoods (online and in person) to discover the areas that you’re most drawn to. Here’s a short primer to get you started:


It doesn’t get more central than this. Try Harlem for a friendly neighborhood feel with more affordable options or the East Village or Lower East Side for vibrant nightlife and your choice of delicious restaurants.


Haven for every lifelong New Yorker and hip transplants alike, head to Williamsburg or Bushwick for trendy businesses and a thriving arts scene, or Park Slope for lush parks and a laid-back atmosphere.


Enjoy NYC’s finest international cuisine, stunning views of Manhattan, deeply diverse communities, and a bit more space to spread out in Astoria, Long Island City, and Jackson Heights.


Though Jersey is not the long-lost sixth borough, it is home to some up-and-coming, renter-friendly neighborhoods. Check out Hoboken and Jersey City for a slower pace of life and a more affordable cost of living but equal access to the best of NYC.
05 Rent control in NYC

There are two separate governing programs for rental pricing in New York City: rent control and rent stabilization.

Rent Control

1. Rent Control

applies to certain buildings constructed before 1947 with continuous renters (or renters in the same family, grandfathered into the program) since 1971. Unless you have a family member who is already living in a rent-controlled NYC apartment, it’s difficult to gain access to one as a transplant or new renter.
Proof of income

2. Rent Stabilization

applies to qualified buildings constructed before 1974. A rent-stabilized apartment tenant can enjoy additional rights (like the right to sublet and the right to certain services and repairs) and an established limit on any rent increase.

Make sure to research the buildings you’re considering to see if they fall under rent control or rent stabilization. Rent stabilization is the more widely available program, so keep your eyes peeled for that in particular.

06 Renting made easier with Common

At Common, we understand how stressful renting can be. We’re on a mission to ease the strain for young professionals finding their footing in a new city. Our comfortable, community-focused rentals are changing the rental industry at its core.

Forego the headaches and the heartaches that can come along with renting in NYC—rent with Common to discover a better way to come home. Our coliving homes and private studios and apartments are intentionally designed to make life easy for our members. With tech-powered management practices, lower monthly rent, exclusive community events, design-forward furnishings, incredible amenities and utilities included (trash, gas, electricity, water, and even WiFi), enjoy a higher quality of life for less with Common.

Scroll through our available listings and see what catches your eye. Then, reach out to our team and schedule a tour—we’ll be delighted to show you around.