What you'll learn—the hard way—from your first New York apartment

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For most of us, finding our first apartment in the city is a rude awakening—I'm paying how much, for how little space, to live with how many people, in what neighborhood? Besides the obvious, inevitable sticker shock, there are a many other compromises and surprised, particularly if you're moving here from the lulling, if unexciting, comforts of the suburbs. Unless your parents happen to be shadowy foreign billionaires, brace yourself for the following:

  • Downsizing. Your apartment and room are probably going to be tiny, which has a way of quietly changing your entire lifestyle. Time to give up your bulk shopping habit (yes, even if you've got a Costco membership or Amazon prime), and re-think your furniture options (so they'll actually fit through your door).
  • The neighbors. Prepare to see, hear, and smell your neighbors at all hours (this includes the people across the way whose window you can see right into, a la Rear Window). On the flip side, expect them to see, hear, and smell all of your goings on, too. Eventually, you'll get used to it, and will be grateful for them when you have to band together against the landlord during, say, a bedbug scare. 
  • Noise. When you're not hearing your neighbors' TV—and couple fights—through the walls, you'll be listening to sirens, subwoofers, and bands of screaming teenagers out on the street. Buy some earplugs and make peace with it.
  • The delivery options. This is a cliche for a reason: You can basically get anything you want delivered to you at any hour of the day. This will ruin you for living literally anywhere else.

For more reasons to temper—or in some cases, raise!—your expectations for your first apartment, read 15 lessons for first-time renters.

In Case You Missed It: Every so often, BrickUnderground digs through the archives to find the best advice our experts have shared through the years.


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