Rent Coach

Rent Coach: Apartment hunting without your roommate not a great idea in NYC

By Mike Akerly  | January 19, 2012 - 2:58PM

Q. I’m graduating from college this spring and plan to move to NYC for a new job.  I’m booking my plane ticket for a trip in May, but my prospective roommate won’t be able to join me because of other post-graduation obligations. 

My plan is to see about 20 apartments with a broker I was referred to, pick the best two or three, and then have my roommate fly out for a day to see those.  Is there anything else I should know to make our search successful?

A. I would advise that you rethink your strategy, as there are numerous problems with coming out to start your search without your roommate. 

Many NYC transplants are shocked to see “what they get for their money” when they first move to New York.  You will ease into that realization when you view 20+ properties, but your roommate won’t have the opportunity to experience that learning curve. 

Time and again, I have seen this situation play out, with the “late arrival” being severely disappointed and insisting that the search continue because “there has to be better choices out there,” sparking tension and outright arguments between the roommates.   

Also, NYC apartments are notorious for renting very fast (think in terms of hours or days, not weeks) especially during the late spring and summer months when you plan to search.  You need to be prepared to submit an application for an apartment at the time that you view it. 

That means that both you and your roommate need to be there with all of your paperwork in hand, and you need to have access to funds to pay the upfront rent, security deposit, and broker’s fee.  You risk wasting all of the time you spend searching alone if you need to wait for your roommate to arrive after you’ve viewed 20 apartments and then try to schedule second showings for the ones you liked. 

Bottom line: When you are starting an apartment search, you should always plan on all decision makers (i.e. roommates, spouses, parents, etc.) taking part in it to the greatest degree possible. 


Mike Akerly is a New York City real estate attorney, landlord, and real estate broker. He is also the publisher of the Greenwich Village blog VillageConfidential.  


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