How to Find an Apartment in NYC

So I’ve lived in NYC for two years, but I’ve been in the same apartment and resigned my lease. Finding the best apartment for you in the neighborhood you want for the price you can afford can be a challenge! I cried a few times while apartment hunting with my dad because it was just stressful and overwhelming. When people email me about tips for apartment hunting in NYC… I don’t have the best answers. I can say what I did personally, but I pretty much followed the lead from my dad and my broker!
I found Suitey through Twitter and I spent a lot of time on there this summer when I was debating on whether or not I was going to move to a new apartment. In a weird turn of events, I ended up meeting with the co-founders and it turns out they were rowers in college. The rowing community is so small and we had too many friends in common to count. (I even raced against one of their boats at nationals one year!)
Although I decided to stay in my apartment (my rent barely went up!), I loved Suitey and the expertise that they provide. I asked them to put together some helpful tips for anyone looking for an apartment in NYC!
Ask the Experts: The 9 Things Every NYC Renter Needs to Know
by Suitey
If you have spent even one day of your life in the market for a New York City apartment, you may have experienced the angsty discomfort that is forever paired with the process. You might have dealt with: A. skeezy agents  B. fake ads  C. frightening apartments or  D. all of the above. There is also a possibility that you were one of the lucky few who had a seamless transition into your new city life. To those few, we envy you. To everyone else, we asked our team here at Suitey to answer the most commonly asked questions in the field. Knowledge is power, people. Soak it up. 
What’s the deal with no fee apartments?
It sounds counter-intuitive but many no fee apartments you find online or in a newspaper are actually provided by a broker. This does not mean that brokers are going to work for free. This means that the landlord has a ton of apartments available and as an incentive to rent them, they pay the broker’s fee. You mostly find these “no fee” apartments in new construction luxury buildings. –  Agent Taylor Travaglione
How quickly do apartments get rented? 
By the time you read this sentence, it will be rented 🙂 An apartment that is considered a “good deal” is rented within 2-3 days of being listed on the market – sometimes even sooner during the busy summer months. The most in-demand apartments are those with multiple bedrooms because it is generally less expensive to live with roommates vs living alone. – Agent Jennifer Lee
Why are neighborhoods priced differently? 
Neighborhoods are priced differently due to factors like proximity to highly ranked schools, convenient subway lines, and community life such as parks, restaurants, and nightlife. A neighborhood that has all of those amenities is a hot commodity and the law of supply and demand kicks in to influence price. – Agent Russ Rosenband
Which neighborhoods give me the best bang for my buck? 
The Upper East Side, Clinton/Hells Kitchen, and the Lower East Side have more to offer when it comes to square foot for the dollar. Those three neighborhoods range from $50-$64/Sq Ft, whereas neighborhoods like the West Village demand $75-$80/Sq Ft. – Agent Jen Fierman
Is it cheaper to roommate up? 
Although the allure of that perfect studio/1 BR as a place to call home sounds both cozy and ideal, the harsh reality is that it costs significantly more to live by yourself in Manhattan. Say, for instance, that you are looking for a $1,800 studio. Your options are limited by your budget and you will exclusively be searching on the UES, LES, or Midtown West. When you add your budget with two other people who have similar budgets, you can rent a much higher quality three bedroom in a larger selection of neighborhoods. – Customer Experience Manager Maggie Regan

Why aren’t there pictures and accurate addresses online for some rental properties?
Unfortunately the sites you see those listings on are not regulated. They are posting boards – similar to Craiglist – but specific to NY apartment rentals. Because of the competitive market, some brokers use a tactic called “bait-and-switch” to bring in new clients. For example, a broker will post pictures of a $3,000 1 bedroom, when in fact the pictures are from a $4,500 1 bedroom. When you inquire about that amazing deal, they say that one just rented but they would be happy to take you out looking at comparable apartments. Beware of these people.  – Agent Nick Gross
What paperwork do I need to rent an apartment?
While every landlord has different requirements, there are some documents that will be required by all.  Expect a landlord to ask you for a copy of your photo ID, a letter from your employer stating your salary, tax returns, pay stubs and a bank statement.  For new grads just starting a job, an offer letter should do.  If you will be using a guarantor for the apartment, they will also need the same supporting documents (plus an application) to submit the landlord.  – Agent Hugo Monteiro
Why would I work with a broker? 
Brokers have access to many apartments that regular New Yorkers would not otherwise have access to.  Brokers have relationships with landlords that do not post their listings on the traditional real estate websites.  More significantly, working with a broker saves you time.  You can spend several weeks making phone calls, trying to coordinate appointments and pounding the pavement to potentially save on a fee.  A good broker will condense all of that to a 2-3 hour appointment, weeding out all of the places that won’t work for you and including some only accessible through them. – Agent Chris Lee
Is it better to rent or buy? 
The answer to this question depends on your objectives, but we always recommend buying if you plan on living in the area for 5 years or longer. When you buy, you build equity in your own life, and when you rent, you build equity in your landlord’s life. Manhattan real estate is a safe place to hold your money, and one of the best markets to gain substantial returns in short amounts of time. – Head of Sales Tyler Whitman

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Cat at OddlyLovely.com

I think these tips could apply to apartment hunting in SF too! I've heard we've recently surpassed NYC as the most expensive place to live in the country. Trying to find an apartment here is nuts! That's why I've continued to say in my current place as well, hehe.


Caroline V

Thank you for this! I definitely wish it had been posted sooner! I had to find an apartment for this upcoming year while I was across an ocean… in Paris. Talk about stress.


Living in NYC for 10 years now and have been in 4 apartments throughout the city I'd say…if you like it – take it right then and there! Apartments go in a blink of an eye! Have all your documents ready when you are going to look at an apartment as well! Pay Stubs, Bank Statements, Credit Report, Letter of Employment etc.


This post is awesome! I see so many people post about NYC and it's usually just favorite places to go and tips for travel and whatnot, which is nice for visiting but if you actually want to live there a post like this is way more helpful. Thanks so much!