Best Strategies in Search for Apartments in NYC
Looking for an apartment in New York City can be extremely stressful. The market is reasonably competitive; you have to make hard decisions or walk away from a seemingly perfect home because of the price. All in all, apartment hunting in New York is something you have to prepare for. In this guide, you’ll see some of the biggest tips and insights when it comes to apartment hunting. Here are our top 50 list of tips and tricks you should use when you venture into the NY apartment hunting endeavor.
42 Tips and Tricks to Apartment Hunting in New York
Before You Get to See the Apartment:
- First and foremost, if there is a showcasing unit that a real estate agent representative is offering you to look at, stay cautious. These are some too-good-to-be-true apartments that are most likely not available. Something shady is going on if they refuse to show you the real thing. Ask if they can do it for you, and if they decline, move on.
- Make sure that you check which places you can reach on foot from the apartment you’re planning on renting. Imagine starting living there and coming home from work, and then having to walk an insane amount of distance just to get groceries. Check if there are things you need closeby: dry-cleaners, post-office, gift shops, home goods, supermarkets, bars, fast foods, etc.
- Check how long the commute from your work to the new apartment takes too. Drive during rush hour and see how long it takes if you have a car. Depending on your circumstances, you can see if the commute duration will affect your current lifestyle or not, which also helps when looking for an apartment in NYC.
- Ask the locals in the neighborhood about how it’s like to live there. Most of them will be sincere and tell you straightforwardly. Ask what some of the best places to go to are, what to keep in mind, and how you will fit in. If you can’t do it in person, you can try online. There are probably some online communities on Facebook, or in forums, you can join and ask for info you need.
- Make sure you thoroughly research New York’s Tenant Laws, especially if you’re a first-time renter. Laws regarding the security deposit, lease, rent and fees, and other things can vary from state to state, so make sure you come informed and prepared.
- Check if the landlord is experienced. Many inexperienced landlords aren’t familiar with the laws, regulations and may do you an injustice by simply being ignorant. An experienced landlord knows their property well and can give you insights on how to make your living there as comfortable as possible. Besides, they are easier to deal with in general.
- Speaking of the landlord, you should also check them out online. At the same time, you can take a look at online property records in New York. If you see a lot of property for foreclosure in their name, chances are they are a slumlord.
- Ask the neighbors in the apartment building if they can tell you more about the building and the past tenants if there were any. Maybe you’ll find out that the walls are too thin, or that the elevator tends to break down. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and perhaps you’ll get a better insight.
- Make sure to see if you get a designated parking spot. Check if it costs, and if it does, how much. See how many visitors you can have over if you plan on doing that. Make sure that on weekends there is enough space left. Ensure that you will have an alternative in case someone takes your spot.
- If you are touring multiple apartments, ask if you can take pictures of them. That way, you can weigh in all of the pros and cons, compare the units when you get home and look through images more thoroughly.
- When you decide that an apartment is right for you, take as many pictures as you can of it and time stamp them. Notify the landlord in writing, so that you won’t have to take the blame for any damage that occurred before you moved in.
- Verify all terms of the lease. Make sure you know precisely what utilities you’ll have to pay for, and what payment method to use.
- If you have a car, drive around the neighborhood. See what kind of vehicles are others driving in your vicinity. If they are significantly different than yours, maybe this part of the area isn’t for you.
- This tip may sound silly, but call a pizzeria in the vicinity of the apartment that you’re considering renting. Ask if the pizza place makes deliveries there after dark. If the answer is negative, then the neighborhood might have a history of being unsafe.
- Make sure that, if there is an internet provider, it’s up to your standards. If it’s not, try to see with the landlord if that can be changed.
- Visit the neighborhood at night. If you can, take a walk around the block. Is it too loud or has too much traffic? Are there any noisy neighbors? If any of these things bother you, you might want to reconsider moving there.
- If you can’t check yourself, Google maps have a pretty good insight on traffic in that area at any given time. It varies, but it’s accurate most of the time. See if the traffic delays don’t interfere with your daily life as it is.
- Laundry facilities save tons of money. Ensure that if you don’t have your in your apartment or building, there’s one nearby that’s affordable and offers quality service.
- If you like to go on shopping sprees on the Internet, make sure that the office near the apartment you’re going to rent accepts packages. Also, see if UPS will leave the package just in case you aren’t home.
- Check to see if there are any upcoming construction works near that apartment building. You don’t want to stay stuck for months next to a road that’s being rebuilt or similar.
- If you can’t get an idea of how much you’re going to have to pay for utilities like heating and AC, go on and ask your neighbors in similar apartments for the range of price.
- The Internet is an excellent resource. You can check for crime statistics in an area that you plan to live in. Also, you can check with the police and ask how many times they’ve been called to that street or complex in the last six months.
- Visit the neighborhood at different times of the day to see which activities are people doing. Also, visit on the weekends and see how the atmosphere is when people aren’t at work. A lot of cars parked in parking spaces during work hours may be sketchy, but on the other hand, that may also mean that there are a lot of people that work from home or are stay-at-home parents. So, that’s why you need to check.
- If you drive, check where the closest gas station is from the apartment.
- If the leasing agent or landlord promises to do something before you move in, it needs to be in the lease, or it may not happen.
- Avoid living in the same building as your landlord unless the other tenants vouch for them. Too many of them are nosy and are looking for ways to grab your cash.
- Check the policies for smoking (if you are a smoker), pets (some landlords don’t allow pets, although a lot of them do nowadays), noise (although you should avoid making it altogether), and visitors.
- Speak with the landlord about what would happen if you break the lease. What are your options then, and what are the consequences?
- Check what’s the average rental time of the apartment. Usually, if it’s short, like a few months, that’s a bad sign – unless it’s Manhattan. That place is way too expensive, and many people don’t know what they’re getting themselves into when renting an apartment there.
- See as many different options in the vicinity as possible. That way, you’ll be able to see if what the landlord is offering is competitively priced for the type of apartment you’re seeking.
- Always be well prepared, dressed adequately, and ready to ask for a discount.
- Once you get inside the apartment, check your cell phone reception. This detail is something a lot of people forget about first and then have issues calling and sending/receiving messages, but then it’s too late.
- Take a look at nooks and crannies in the apartment. Search for signs of any rodents or pests like bed bugs or roaches. Small droppings may indicate that there’s a rodent dwelling somewhere. A bed bug infestation can be recognized by looking at the mattress, recliners, headboards, electrical outlets, upholstered furniture, under wallpaper and picture frames. If you see reddish/brown stains, chances are there’s an infestation. Also, you can see online in the Bed Bug Registry if the building had any pest problems in the past.
- Check the faucets for pressure on different heat levels: hot, cold, and combined. See how long it takes to get warm. Do the same for the shower or bathtub. Check if there are any leaks.
- A simple app can show you which direction you’re facing. See which way the windows of the apartment face. Inspect if there’s going to be enough light in the apartment during the day.
- Open the drawer under the oven, kitchen drawers, and the cabinets. See if they’re clean, not squeaky or wobbly. Check the top of the cabinets too.
- You can test all of the outlets in the apartment with a socket tester. If they’re okay, see if there are enough of them in every room for your needs. If you don’t have a socket tester, you can find a plethora of them online for around ten bucks.
- New York Winters are not to be taken lightly. They’re maybe mild compared to Minnesota, but you still have to make sure your home is warm enough. Keeping and staying warm in your apartment is essential. Check if the windows on the apartment are double-paned/double-glazed and in good repair. Also, check if they open and close with ease, if they are squeaky and if the lock works well.
- Are there way too many air fresheners in the apartment? Put your nose to the test. Check for any musty smells that can indicate water damage. Put that nose to use, especially at places where you know there’s wood.
- In the bathroom, fill in the sink and the bathtub. Then, drain the sink and tub simultaneously and flush the toilet in the meantime. Did they drain and fill correctly? Does the tank fill up as it should be, or does the water keep running? Throw some toilet paper in the toilet as well. See if the fall is good enough not to leave anything behind.
- Check for storage space. Are there enough closets, cabinets, and drawers? Do you have enough room for your belongings in that apartment in general? If not, either do a declutter and start anew or look for another place.
- If the apartment is on the first floor, check for the following things: bars on windows can be ugly, but practical as 1st-floor apartments get robbed the most, street traffic, noise, pedestrians, kids playing. You don’t want a kid to break your window with a ball, or noisy street traffic, or nosy neighbors. If everything turns out okay, get some blackout curtains on top of regular ones for privacy at night.
When You Get to See the Apartment:
Rarely can you find a perfect apartment in all aspects. You just have to make sure to find the one that works best for you and your lifestyle. Price is always essential, so make sure you get exactly what you paid for. Take the matters into your own hands and you will never have an inconvenience in the future while leasing an apartment in New York.