As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been on the hunt for an apartment to live in during my senior year of college. The past two years I’ve lived in “luxury” apartment buildings in the Downtown Brooklyn area, so the apartment hunt is nothing new to me. Or so I thought.
This year’s search was unlike my previous years. My sophomore year I lived in a 2bed/2bath with 4 other girls (two in each room and one in the living room), and we still paid decently high rent. This past year, my junior year, I lived in a 2bed/2bath with 2 other roommates (me and my friend in one room and then our guy friend in his own room), and we only paid slightly more than the previous year. But this year, our final year, somehow I ended up with 4 other people again (2 girls, 2 guys). And nobody wanted to pay to live in the living room (and nobody wants anybody living in the living room). So now our search was altered.
With this many people we had to look for a 3bed/2bath at the minimum. At some points we were looking for 4 bedrooms but that search came up with a dead end. This search process has been a tricky one. Only three of us have been in NYC for the summer, so the act of visiting each apartment became a tedious one. Simply having to coordinate with 4 other people became a hassle. Topics that came up a lot were rent, neighborhood, commute, and space. Here are some tips I have for any of you going about a search for a place to rent, whether it be in NYC or elsewhere.
- Set a firm budget. This became a problem among us. Some people were willing to pay more monthly. Some had standards that had to be met before they were willing to pay more. I think I acted as the leader of the pack. My roommates were floundering. We would leave our messages and questions on “read” and then simply never respond. I took action many times to collect everybody’s answers separately and then report back to the group. Setting a budget is no joke. People were telling me vastly different budgets at different points over the past couple months. Have everybody sit down and tell you exactly how much they’re willing to spend on rent.
- Discuss the neighborhood. One of the problems we came across was finding good apartments in neighborhoods that some of us didn’t like. Brooklyn is very tricky in that way. The entire borough seems to be up and coming, so the prices are getting jacked up, but the neighborhood is still shit. A common complaint the girls had on an apartment the guys may have liked was, “Nice apartment, but we don’t feel comfortable walking home alone at night here”, which is obviously a big problem. So make everybody aware of which neighborhoods you’re searching in. And take everybody’s point of view into consideration.
- The commute. In NYC the public transportation is killer! I mean that in both a good way and a bad way. The mta can get you virtually anywhere you need to go, but it’s not always a convenient route. Also, the fare prices are just getting higher and higher. I think since my freshman year of high school the fare has raised about $1 (which is quite significant). So discuss with everybody how far you are willing to travel, whether it be by walking or by bus or train. This kind of plays into which neighborhoods you’re considering.
- Act fast! I can’t tell you how many times we set up viewings for apartments, only to have them cancelled later that day cause the apartment was rented. The city has a fast turn around rate, but there are always people looking!
- If you’re looking in the NYC area, use StreetEasy. I recommend it over any of the other housing sites. Others that may appear are Zillow, Trulia, and NakedApartments. I do not recommend any of those. StreetEasy, in my opinion, is the most legitimate and reliable.
- Be sure to know which questions to ask. Being in contact with a listing agent is a real hassle. You don’t want to have to go back and forth over and over again, trying to get all of your questions answered as you think of them. So make a generic list and bring it around with you to ask all the agents you speak with. Some questions I recommend asking are:
✧ Is there a broker’s fee?
✧ In-unit or in-building laundry?
✧ How many people are allowed on the lease?
✧ What is the deal about guarantors? Are they accepted? If so, how many are accepted? And what is the income requirement the combined guarantors have to meet?
✧ When is the move in date?
✧ Are the landlords willing to do one month free on a 12 month lease? For that matter, how long is the lease?
✧ Which trains/buses are nearby?
✧ What is the neighborhood like? Is it consisted of mainly families? Students? Working young adults? A mix?
I hope you found these tips helpful! I truly feel like I’ve become an expert (ok maybe not) in the field of finding an apartment. Let me know below if yall have any questions I didn’t answer!
Till next time, xx