Stressful nights wondering if it will ever happen, breathless mornings walking around in circles with no end in sight, an audible cringe when you go to look at your bank account only to realize you have to survive off oatmeal and eggs for the rest of your life and disappointing let downs when everything you thought that was going to happen crumbles before nine a.m.
If you have experienced any of these scenarios, or all four at once, then you probably are apartment hunting in New York City. If you are my roommates or I, then you have spent the past two months in this roller coaster of doom, and finally signed your lease.
Before I go any further let me just say that apartment hunting in New York City is a necessary evil that really gains you nothing other than extra costs and stress, but it happens just about every year. If you’re lucky, it happens only every couple of years. Nevertheless, it must be done. Thankfully I have completed the daunting task twice, so if you don’t live here then you can just live vicariously through my disaster.
This story does have a happy ending, but first we must go through some turmoil.
Before you look at apartments, make sure you know when your move out date is.
Okay, this might sound like a no brainer. You might think, “All lease agreements are for a year.” Or, “I will never forget my move out date because I am not stupid.” Well, I am here to tell you it can happen. And yes, you will feel stupid.
We had our entire move planned out. Our lease was ending February 01. We were going to find a new apartment starting the weekend of January 05. So, like any overenthusiastic millennial, we began our search and encountered
lovely apartment brokers to guide us through our journey. We even found an apartment, filled out an application and paid an application fee. Then, the morning after, all hyped up on new apartment bliss, our worlds came crumbling down. Our lovely parents decided to look at the lease, because they are much wiser and actually keep these things. Turns out, our move out date wasn’t until February 29, and if we wanted to avoid paying two rents at once (a luxury we cannot in the best of circumstances afford since our rent is basically more than a mortgage) then we needed to say good-bye to our dream apartment and suffer through another month in our dishwasherless, laundryless shoebox. There is good news, however, our lovely broker had not turned in our application yet, so we didn’t loose the $500 in application fees. Do you want to move to New York yet?
Add an extra roommate.
Speaking from experience, the more roommates you have the cheaper your rent will be. Right now I live in a shoebox with one person, and my rent is astronomical. So, being the economists that we are (that’s a joke on my part, but my roommate is really numbers savvy), we decided to add a third person. Now we are in a shoebox with a balcony and paying $25 less a person. Oh, AND we have a dishwasher, a gym a doorman and laundry in the building.
Once you figure out when your moving date is and how many people you’re living with, make sure you have a good broker.
A good broker makes all the difference, because you usually have to pay them a lot of money. Now, you might be thinking, “Oh, I can just find an apartment by myself and not pay a broker.” But you would be wrong. Very, very wrong. That is what we tried to do. We wanted to avoid the broker fee (which usually rounds out to one month’s rent in costs), so we tried to only look at apartments listed as “No Fee”. But, usually to see an apartment you need a broker. Oh, and they want a fee. So, unless you have an amazing broker (like we did) who shows you apartments that will pay the fee for you, then you can say bye-bye to all your hard earned money, because you are about to be broke. Seriously, move to New York, it is so fun (note sarcasm)!
If you want an amazing broker, contact Manhattan Realty Group and ask for Jamie.
Once you have a good broker, don’t let them pressure you.
Now is not the time to be nice. It is the time to be assertive. You know what you want. In our case, we wanted an affordable, three-bedroom apartment with laundry. We didn’t look at places that couldn’t offer that. And, we didn’t go to places that were out of our price range. If you are firm and honest with your broker, they won’t try to drag you to apartment after apartment hoping to sway you into renting one. Remember, they don’t get paid unless you rent. So if you are honest with them, they will show you apartments you want to see.
Unfortunately, I am not an assertive person. I left all of that to my roommates, but I was able to learn from their success!
When you find the right apartment, JUMP. ON. IT.
Time is of the essence in New York. If you see an apartment you like, you need to go after it. You cannot wait around and make a pro con list. No. Chances are that someone is coming to see it right when you leave. So you better be prepared to take it as soon as you see it.
On that note, have all your paperwork ready.
You don’t want to be like us and have to spend two hours at the leasing office trying to gather all of your financial statements and ID photos. It is not a happy experience. If you are going apartment hunting be prepared with all of your documents, because you will need them ASAP. Apartments wait for no woman, man or child. It is imperative that you muster up all of the useless information you learned in Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts and COME PREPARED.
Finally, make sure you have great people around you.
Your roommates, parents and friends are all going to have to suffer through hearing about nothing else throughout the duration of your apartment hunting adventure. If they aren’t patient, kind and understanding people, then they probably won’t be around to enjoy your amazing apartment with the balcony. Furthermore, you roommates will help balance out your flaws (like numbers and assertiveness).
Be prepared to feel like an adult when you sign your lease. Be prepared to avoid looking at your bank account for the next couple of months. Most importantly, be prepared to have an overwhelming sense of satisfaction that you took on one of the most challenging moments of your life and lived to tell the tale.