If you’re hoping to move to a new rental apartment in New York City this spring or summer, you have your work cut out for you. Apartment hunters come out in force when the weather warms up, and this year the rental market is even more competitive than usual: Rents are soaring, inventory is low, and there are even bidding wars for rentals.
Many renters scored deals on apartments during the pandemic and are now faced with steep rent hikes at lease renewal time—so they also need a more affordable place to live. So how can you catch a break if you’re on a tight budget? Being flexible about where you're willing to live is the best way to get an edge, so check out neighborhoods far from Manhattan—especially if you can work remotely all or part of the week. You might also have to give up living in a building with amenities.
You should also get ahead of the game so you don’t risk losing an apartment. Get all of your paperwork ready to apply on the spot in case you check out a place that you want to call home.
Keep reading for Brick’s best advice on finding an apartment in NYC this season—without breaking the bank.
Know how to beat your competition
Your first step in finding an apartment is knowing how to deal with the competition. These days, an apartment can be listed in the morning and be rented by the evening, especially if it’s a good deal—so you must act fast. Some renters are even facing bidding wars (Yes, you read that right). How can you prepare? Know what kind of apartment you’re looking for (and can afford), have all of your application documents ready, and be the first to get to showings.
Consider a studio vs. a one bedroom
If you’re moving on your own (or with a significant other), you might want to consider a studio if you can’t find an affordable one bedroom. These apartments are considerably cheaper even in today’s market. In March, the median rent for a studio in Manhattan was $2,750 compared to $3,788 for a one bedroom, according to the Elliman Report.
Worried about living in a small space? Read "Considering a NYC studio apartment? Here's how to maximize your layout" and "My boyfriend and I live in a 500-square-foot studio. Here’s how we make it work"
Find a cheaper neighborhood
Rents are soaring across all five boroughs, but there are neighborhoods where you find lower rents. If you’re on a tight budget, you should give up living in most parts of Manhattan and popular parts of Brooklyn like Williamsburg. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave the city. Neighborhoods like Inwood and Kew Gardens are known to be more affordable.
For more information on affordable neighborhoods, read "Looking for a cheap apartment? Here are NYC’s most affordable neighborhoods for renters” and "Here are 8 NYC neighborhoods to consider if a quick commute to Manhattan is no longer top priority."
Get a roommate
Having a roommate makes living in NYC much more affordable because you can split the rent plus utilities and other shared bills. If you're new to NYC or don't have someone to live with, moving in with a stranger may seem daunting. Don’t worry, Brick has you covered with tips on how to find a good match.
For more check out "The 11 best sites for finding a roommate in NYC," "The 21 best questions to ask potential roommates to get the perfect match," and "Home sharing with a senior: Roommate matching program makes living in NYC more affordable."
Look for a no-fee rental
An average broker fee in NYC can be 12 to 15 percent of your annual rent. That means you might have to pay up to $3,600 for a $2,000 a month apartment—on top of your first month’s rent and security deposit. To avoid paying a broker fee, focus your search on no-fee listings where the owner pays the broker fee for you. Right now there are 4,426 no-fee rentals listed on StreetEasy.
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