After almost five years living in Manhattan, I finally decided to make a change and move to Brooklyn, North Park Slope to be exact. Since matriculating to NYC, I have lived in the West Village, Financial District, Chelsea, Upper West Side and back down to the Financial District. Any New Yorker will tell you that Manhattan living is very expensive and looking for an apartment in a city of over 8 million people can be so discouraging if you’re on a budget. If you’re one of the lucky ones and find a listing on Craigslist, congratulations. If not, be prepared to pay for that new pad.
One dirty little secret New Yorkers don’t tell you is that if you use a professional to find your apartment, you will have to a pay a broker fee. What is a broker and the broker fee to be exact? An apartment broker has a listing of a plethora of apartments in every single price range. Landlords and building properties usually hire brokers to facilitate the application process. When you go to see a broker, he will ask you for your budget and will show you several properties in that price range. Note: You will NOT find these properties listed on Craigslist or Apartment.com or any of those other apartment listing sites.
Once you find your perfect apartment, thanks to your broker, you go through the application process of a credit check, employment verification and other criteria the landlord might have. Once approved, you write your first month, last month and security deposit. Here’s the kicker, expect to pay your broker a fee that could range from one month’s rent to 15% of the annual rent (a little less than two month’s rent). Yup! On top of the required fees from your landlord or building manager, you still have to pay a fee to your broker for helping you find your dream home. So if you’re moving to New York City, I suggest you plan ahead, way ahead in order to have time to search for an apartment on listing sites like Craigslist, Listings Project, Apartment.com, Roommates.com, NakedApartments.com, among others.
Tips for the New York City apartment search:
- Have a monthly rent budget in mind and save three to four times that amount if you’re using a broker.
- Craigslist apartments go by really fast so make sure you have your money in hand when you go to look at a place.
- Know your credit rating before applying for an apartment or have a guarantor.
- Many apartments have income requirements, make sure you meet them.
- If renting during the slower rental seasons of November through February, your landlord might be willing to negotiate and pay your broker fee.
- Look for “NO FEE” listings or ask your broker for ‘NO FEE’ apartments.
- Co-Op buildings are super hard to get into so make sure you have all the pertinent paper work, recommendations and background in check.
- There are lots of scammers on Craigslist. Avoid sending checks, PayPal or Western Union to some random guy who promises to send you the keys to his swanky, too good to be true apartment pending your payment. I’ve known a few friends who’ve fallen for this trick.
- Facebook friends are a good resource if you are looking for a new apartment. Simply post your inquiry on your wall and ask friends who know of any openings to message you.
- If you opt for the Craigslist route, make sure you take the time to write a meaningful reply back to the original poster’s email. You are more likely to get a response.
- The Carrie Bradshaw apartment you’ve been dreaming about is a myth, unless you have the cash to spend. Have realistic expectations of what you will get for your budget. You will have to sacrifice an elevator for a cheaper walk-up in a pre-war building.
There are just a few tips on improving your New York City apartment search. So back to my Brooklyn move. Several factors contributed to my decision to cross the bridge. The first was space. Brooklyn apartments and houses are much bigger than that of the shoe boxes I was accustomed to in Manhattan. I have an amazing master bedroom in a three bedroom townhouse apartment. Which means I get the have big girl furniture. That’s right, I get a queen size bed, a dress or two, book shelves, night stands and whatever else my heart fancies. I ordered the white Baxton Studio Carlotta White Modern Bed with Upholstered Headboard from Overstock.com two weeks ago. It arrived on Thursday so we set it up Friday afternoon. The queen sized bed was $219 after several discounts. I splurged on the mattress with a Stearns and Foster Beckinsale-Balerno Luxury Plush Queen-size Mattress Set.
My bedroom is going to be a major project for the next two months because I want to paint the entire room and hack a few of the furniture, most from IKEA. I have organized my closet for now but plan on enhancing it just a bit with some organizing baskets and separators. A few things I will be adding to the room in the next few weeks include nightstands, a mounted television, area rug, a desk, some more decorative pillows to go with the theme of my room, and better lighting. I want to stick with white and gold with pops of turquoise. The walls will most likely be painted stark white but I am open to suggestions. What other color solutions would you recommend?