5 Things to Know Before Renting an Apartment in NYC

Hey, everyone! Right now, I’m in the midst of moving into my very own NYC apartment! For those of you who don’t know, I am a lifelong New Yorker born & raised in Manhattan. I left NYC for four years of college out in Chicago, and for the past year, I have been living back at home in Manhattan with my family. Although I had an off-campus apartment in college, I am currently moving into my first real adult apartment that I had to do very adult things to obtain.

RELATED POST: 6 Tips for Moving out of your college dorm

I had a lot of friends warn me about the NYC housing market and how crazy it is. I had all of their warnings and suggestions in mind but was still met with surprises and unexpected hurdles along the way. If you’re considering living in NYC at some point, or know friends who are, definitely bookmark/pin this post for later! Here are 5 important things to know before renting an apartment in NYC:

5 things to know before renting in apartment in NYC

1. Start looking the month or the month before you want to move

As someone who likes to plan ahead as far as possible, this part drove me kind of crazy. You can’t really sign a lease for more than a month in advance in most cases. If you’re browsing for apartments and it’s August 3rd, the landlords of those apartments are looking for those to be filled by either August 15th or September 1st. You can’t really start looking for apartments seriously until you are ready to move within that month.

2. Apply FAST

Most apartments in NYC go off the market quickly, so when you see one that you like, act FAST! Don’t wait more than 3 days to call your broker/potential landlord and apply for the apartment if you really liked it. Apartments don’t typically stay on the market for more than 2 weeks, so if you see a listing that’s older than 2 weeks, that’s kind of a red flag.

3. Have all of your documents ready to go

The name of the game once you’ve found a place you like is speed. Ideally, you want to be the first application to get approved. Otherwise, you will have to cross your fingers that the people who applied before you get rejected! Completing the application can be quite the scramble if you don’t have your documents prepared. Most applications require a combination of a scanned government ID, previous landlord/personal recommendations, credit report, bank statements, pay stubs, tax returns, and letter of employment (I used my offer letter for that). Make sure you either already have those things ready or that you can easily gather them when it’s time to apply.

4. Have enough money saved for upfront costs

Not gonna lie, just GETTING the apartment is expensive. Most leases require a security deposit (usually equivalent to one month’s rent or less) and x’s month’s rent upfront. Make sure you have enough saved up to pay a few months’ worths of rent at the time of your apartment search.

5. Be ready for fees and other *surprises*

If you’re using a broker to find your apartment, you will also have to pay the broker an additional fee. My last piece of advice is, be ready for surprises. Anything can happen during your apartment hunt, so just be mentally prepared to roll with the punches if you encounter any unexpected obstacles.

Those are my top 5 things to know before renting an apartment in NYC. If you have any questions about moving to New York, feel free to let me know! You can always comment below or shoot me an Instagram DM.

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  1. August 1, 2018 / 8:39 am

    Great tips! My whole childhood, I dreamt of living in NYC. As an adult, I wondered how it was even possible!

  2. Annaliese
    August 1, 2018 / 9:19 am

    I’ve heard some horror stories before about trying to find housing in NYC!! Omg I feel like that would stress me out so much. This is such a helpful post though!

    xoxo A

  3. August 1, 2018 / 10:05 am

    Emily! I had so much fun meeting you last summer at HerConference. I’m glad you’re still in NYC! I’ve heard so much about their crazy housing market, so I’m sure these tips will be helpful to many. Good luck with your move!

  4. August 1, 2018 / 10:21 am

    What a great guide for anyone looking for a place in NYC! I can’t believe how quickly apartments go there- that’s insane!


  5. August 1, 2018 / 10:42 am

    Such great tips! I love visiting friends in the city, but I could never live there!

  6. August 1, 2018 / 11:17 am

    These are such great tips! NY is such a beautiful city, I’ve always wanted to live there!

  7. August 1, 2018 / 1:29 pm

    I can’t imagine how expensive it would be to live in NYC. I am in Stockholm, and it’s the same here! There are only a few landlords who will let you sign the lease a few months before you move in.

  8. August 1, 2018 / 1:48 pm

    Getting an apartment in NYC can be so challenging! These are all such great tips and can be transferred to other big cities like DC or San Francisco as well!

  9. August 1, 2018 / 5:58 pm

    These are great tips especially number 2. If a listing is there for more than 2 weeks? That’s not even that long!

  10. August 2, 2018 / 7:08 am

    NYC real estate is no joke!! I could never live there lol i give you so much kudos!

  11. the sophia diaries
    August 2, 2018 / 8:22 am

    great tips, and i’m sure they are true xD but that is also the exact reason why i will not ever want to live in NYC xD even applying for an apartment is stressful… big kudos to you for being able to do that tho!

  12. adriana
    August 2, 2018 / 9:31 am

    Expecting unexpected costs is a huge one! Love your tips!

  13. August 2, 2018 / 9:53 am

    I don’t think I could handle having to find a place in NYC! When I was renting we signed our lease in April for a June move in!

  14. August 2, 2018 / 10:05 am

    Great tips! I’ve always wanted to live in NYC for a few months, just to say I did. I’m a huge planner, too, so the waiting until the last minute part would drive me crazy!

  15. Ruya
    August 2, 2018 / 10:29 am

    I lived in NYC for my internships and it’s so difficult living there (especially with apartment hunting!) but so magical as well. This post made me miss it lol.


  16. Marcie
    August 2, 2018 / 2:33 pm

    It drove me nuts having to wait until so close to move in date to find an apartment. And yes, there are so many extra costs!

  17. August 2, 2018 / 3:20 pm

    We visit NYC some and these are some great tips!

  18. August 3, 2018 / 6:04 pm

    I bet it must be challenging to find an apartment in a busy City like New York! These tips can make all the difference for those searching though!

  19. August 3, 2018 / 9:51 pm

    Yes, these are seriously so true. I lived in the Lower East Side for a couple years, moved back down to Florida for a few months, and now I am in the process of moving back to New York, so I am sooooo familiar with all of these. Having money saved upfront and expecting the unexpected is honestly so important!

    and I totally feel you on not wanting to wait to start looking for apartments. that drove me crazy!

  20. August 5, 2018 / 12:14 am

    Oh I so needed all these tips when I moved into my apartment 2 years ago. But just like NYC, the Bay Area is super crazy in terms of rent. So I will be referring back to these tips when I move into a new apartment in the near future.

  21. August 6, 2018 / 10:58 am

    I love how thorough you are in this post! I’m not planning to move to NYC any time soon, but I have friends who are interested, so I’ll definitely be sharing this post with them. Cheering you on as you start this new adventure!

  22. paige
    August 23, 2018 / 12:00 am

    not gonna lie, when i was in new york earlier this year i was totally confused as to how you guys move and how stressful that must be!! not sure i could handle it but your tips were so straightforward and helpful!! such a great post x

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