How to Find an Apartment in New York City: A Complete Guide for 2024

Last updated on February 21st, 2024 at 09:53 am

New York City, also known as “The Big Apple,” has a strong allure for people from all over the world looking to start a new life.

With its tall skyscrapers, diverse population, and endless shopping, dining, and fun activities, it’s easy to see why so many people want to live in New York apartments.

If you’re considering moving to New York, NY, careful planning is vital to ensure you get the best possible place for the best price. The rental market is quite competitive because it’s such a popular part of the United States.

At Remitly, we’re here to help you find New York apartments for rent.

Determine your budget

The average rent for NY apartments varies mostly based on size and location. Establishing a realistic budget before your search will help you decide how much you can afford to pay before you move.

Here are some tips to help you calculate your rent budget, factoring in additional costs.

  • Make sure you have a stable job with a decent income before apartment shopping. Most New York landlords require that your income is from 40 to 80 times the monthly rent in gross annual salary. For example, if you want to rent a $ 4,000-per-month place in the city, you’d need to earn a minimum of $160,000 per year in gross income.
  • Include costs like healthcare, renter’s insurance, groceries, and transportation. The average employer healthcare plan costs $1,500 per year, while renter’s insurance typically costs around $240 per month. Depending on where you live versus where you work, you could pay around $1,375 per year to use the subway.
  • Factor in the cost of groceries and/or dining out as part of your budget. Most New Yorkers spend around $100 per week for food per person.
  • Do your due diligence and carefully look for affordable apartments in New York to ensure you find a place in a great location without feeling “house-poor.”
  • Use property types and nearby zip codes as a factor for determining the cost of rent. For example, a studio apartment typically costs less than a two- or three-bedroom, and places near the top middle schools, elementary schools, and high schools tend to garner more money as well.

Decide on your preferred neighborhood

There are many great neighborhoods in New York, NY, and where you prefer to live depends on your lifestyle, job, and other personal preferences.

Choosing the right neighborhood means you’ll get fairly easy access to employment, activities, and amenities that suit your needs.

East Village

East Village in Manhattan is a vibrant neighborhood in the heart of the city with a lively bar and club scene. If entertainment and mingling are important, this is an excellent neighborhood to consider. East River Park and Tompkins Square Park also offer access to green space and outdoor activities.

Williamsburg

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is a trendy, diverse neighborhood five miles from Central Park. This laid-back neighborhood is home to artists, young people, and those looking for an affordable place near the J, M, and Z subway lines.

Astoria

Astoria in Queens is a highly sought-after neighborhood with a unique multicultural flair and great restaurants. You’ll find apartments for rent in New York here at reasonable prices, along with plenty of great food and activities.

Research online listings

An abundance of websites and apps are available to make searching online easy. These platforms help people find apartment listings matching their needs remotely, saving time and money. Here are some tips to help you use online resources effectively:

  • Download and use apps and websites that are reputable and trustworthy.
  • Ensure a real estate company is listing the apartment to ensure it’s legitimate.
  • Narrow your searches by location, price range, and size to help you find the right listings more easily. You can also look at nearby neighborhoods to see if you prefer that area instead.

Work with real estate agents

Getting help from a real estate agent based in New York, NY, will make finding your dream apartment much easier. These professionals know what a good deal is and how to find one for their clients. Look for agents based in the neighborhood you’re interested in, and choose those with plenty of experience.

Before you hire a real estate agent, ask for reviews or references. It’s also important to ask about the agent’s commission, as most charge a fee once you sign a lease. Check to make sure the agent doesn’t charge upfront fees, and if they do, find out whether they’re refundable if you don’t find the apartment you want.

Attend open houses and tours

Like attending an open house before buying a home, you can do the same with many New York apartments. Some brokers will hold apartment tours where people can come inside and view the place before it’s rented. This is extremely helpful as it gives you insight into the unit and what it’s like before signing on the dotted line.

If you attend an apartment tour or open house, knowing what to look for is vital. Start by making sure that the building is in good condition and that the apartment has the amenities you need, including an ample number of bedrooms, laundry access, and a decent kitchen.

Find out whether the building has a super (or property manager) who handles maintenance or if you’re responsible for paying for things like trash removal and making minor repairs yourself.

Prepare necessary documents

Submitting a formal application means you’re serious about renting your New York City apartment. Here are some essential documents you’ll want to gather in advance to make the application process streamlined:

  • Your three most recent pay stubs and an employment verification letter for proof of income—the letter should include your job title and duties, salary, and the length of your employment on signed company letterhead.
  • Your three most recent bank statements and your most recent federal tax return
  • A photo ID such as your driver’s license or state-issued identification card
  • Your application fee (this will vary depending on the terms listed on the application)
  • A recommendation from your previous landlord and/or proof of past rent payments (not all landlords will ask for this).

Tips for negotiating rent

Since the demand is high for New York City apartment rentals, negotiating the rent price could be challenging. However, you can negotiate rent with some landlords or property managers. This often depends on factors like current market conditions and how long a unit has been vacant.

Research your chosen market and understand what current average rental prices are going for. Look up recently rented listings similar to the one you’re interested in and use them to make your case for negotiating a lower price. Older listings over 10 days without a new tenant will typically have a better chance of being dealt down than brand-new ones.

Be aware of lease terms

Understanding the details of an apartment lease before signing on the dotted line is crucial. If you’re unsure about something, you could end up paying for it in the long run because you weren’t aware of it then.

Here are some common lease provisions and what to look for:

  • Find out what the deposit is, if it’s refundable, and whether or not pets are allowed. If they are, most landlords charge a separate, non-refundable pet deposit and a higher monthly rent price.
  • Look for terms referring to maintenance and your responsibilities versus the landlord or property manager’s responsibilities.
  • Make sure you understand when rent is due, what the acceptable forms of payment are, and if there are late fees.
  • Determine in advance whether utilities are included in your rent cost and confirm if any are not covered so you can plan your budget accordingly.

Know your rights as a tenant

New York City has implemented specific rights and protections for tenants. One is the right to live in safe, well-maintained housing free from vermin, leaks, and hazardous living conditions. A recent change to New York state law makes it harder for landlords to evict tenants, especially those living in rent-controlled apartments.

The NYC Housing Preservation and Development Department lists all current tenant rights. If you have issues, you can access free legal advice by calling 311 and asking for the “Tenant Helpline.” You can also learn more about your rights by referring to the NYC Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants.

Prepare for the move

Moving into a new apartment is exciting, but preparing for the big day in advance is important. Living in a busy city can make moving more challenging, particularly when it comes to parking and access when you’re moving large and heavy items.

Here are some tips to make the process of moving into your New York City apartment easier:

  • Find out where you can park your moving truck and what the hours are to make sure you’ll have access.
  • Look for reputable, trustworthy moving companies to help you move your items into the new place.
  • Pack only the necessary items, and organize the boxes by room with clear labels. This will make unpacking easier.
  • Set up your utilities in advance so everything is turned on and ready by moving day.
  • Turn off your old utilities or transfer them so you won’t pay two bills simultaneously.

Conclusion

Thorough research, budgeting, and careful planning can help you find an affordable apartment in New York City. Before you settle on a place, remember to look at lease terms carefully and know your rights as a tenant.