Ask anyone about how they first found their way to NYC and landed their first job or apartment, and it’s likely that luck or chance will be some part of the equation. After long job search, I moved to New York from Boston 9 years ago and settled in with family outside of the city. When it was time to find my own apartment, I answered a random ad for a new roommate only to find out I already knew the other women living there. It was one of the first apartment listings I responded to, and like magic, I had a found a new place to live.
While fate certainly plays a role, with a quarter million people moving to New York City each year, you can’t rely on luck alone when searching for your first apartment. We asked our most recent NYC transplants on insider secrets for making the move. Here’s what they had to say:
Have all of your documentation ready – New York real estate moves fast!
“Compile all of your necessary documents onto a USB that you can bring with you when viewing apartments. This includes bank statements, proof of identification, proof of employment, tax returns, and any other helpful docs like credit score, proof of insurance, etc. Helps expedite the application process! Also – be ready to write a check. Not many landlords accept card payments or want to handle hard cash.” – Chelsea D’Amore, Account Executive, Inwood
Take the train to the neighborhoods you want to live in and walk around.
“See if you like the coffee shops, bars, restaurants, stores and grocery stores they have. You’re going to be living in this neighborhood, so you have to make sure you like the vibe. When you look at an apartment, make sure to check out the street / surrounding area for some key must-haves: laundromat, grocery store, convenience store / bodega and gym. If those are not within easy walking distance, you’re going to end up lugging heavy groceries and laundry for many blocks – sometimes in the snow and the rain.” – Annik Spencer, Account Executive, Astoria
Be aware of potential fees and additional costs you may have to pay upfront
“An ideal situation for me as a recent grad would have been to move in with someone who already has an apartment in the city, but since that wasn’t the case, I wish I had known how much it costs upfront to move into a new apartment. The combination of broker fees, security deposit, first month’s rent and new furniture costs can be overwhelming. It would’ve helped to at least know a ballpark estimate (roughly $3 or $4 thousand) of how much I’d have to spend upfront.” – Jessica Savarese, Account Coordinator, Upper East Side
Your commute home is more than just the train ride
“I thought it would be no big deal to move into a fifth floor walkup. That got old very fast. Carrying up groceries and laundry isn’t easy, and getting those things delivered costs extra, plus tip! It adds up, so take that into consideration.” – Brittany Hoops, Account Coordinator, Upper East Side
It helps to have a support network
“If you already have friends in the city who you know you’ll be spending time with, don’t live too far from them! It can get a bit lonely coming off of a college campus where your friends were a 5 minute walk away, to traveling 30 minutes to hang out. Not to mention the Uber fees… those add up very quickly. You don’t have to plan your search around your friends, but don’t stray too far from your support system.” – Lindsay Jablonski, Account Coordinator, Hoboken
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