We’re going to be straight with you – finding a rental in New York City can be a challenge. The competition for a good apartment is fierce, and it’s important that you’re on top of your game if you want to score a great place. The best way to get what you want is to be prepared before you begin your search. If you’re renting in NYC for the first time, this is what you need to know.

Let’s start with your budget

According to RentCafe, the average rent for an apartment in Manhattan is $4,068 a month. Yes, you read that right. Moreover, most landlords require tenants to have a salary that is 40 times the monthly rent. For the average rent, that equates to a yearly salary of $162,720. Chances are if you’re just starting out, your salary will be lower than that. Budget accordingly, and start your search for apartments that are realistically within your price range.

Find a guarantor

If you’re worried your salary isn’t going to be enough to secure an apartment, you can find a guarantor. The guarantor, often a parent or guardian, co-signs the lease and agrees to pay even if the tenant is unable. Be aware that guarantors are generally required to have an income that is 80 times the monthly rent. If you don’t have a parent or guardian who is willing or able to co-sign your lease, you can work with a company like TheGuarantors. For a low fee, TheGuarantors can act as the guarantor of your lease.

Accept that you’ll need roommates

If you’re lucky, you may find a great studio that you can afford on your own or with the help of a guarantor. But if you’re like most people new to NYC, you’ll probably end up with a roommate or two. If you’re moving to New York without knowing a soul in town, you can find roommates through apps like Roomi, Diggz, or SpareRoom.

Consider a roommate agreement

Yes, we know you don’t really want to get all Sheldon Cooper on your new roommates. But not having a solid roommate agreement in place can cause problems down the line. A written agreement will help to ensure that all parties are on the same page. It outlines expectations about sharing rent, utilities, chores, and lifestyle. You can find free templates for roommate agreements online.

Lower your expectations

Here’s the reality – New Yorkers live in some of the smallest apartments in the country. The average size of an apartment in Manhattan is 703 square feet. It’s essential that you understand you’ll probably be downsizing. In order to find an affordable place, you may have to make some sacrifices. This could include living in a walk-up, having a view of the building next door, or converting a one-bedroom apartment into a place that sleeps two (or more). The payoff is living in one of the greatest cities on earth. Remember – in those first few months or years of living in New York, you won’t be spending much time in your apartment. What’s essential is finding a safe and convenient place.

Have all your paperwork ready

Before you look at any apartment, you need to have all your paperwork ready. This includes tax returns, bank statements, pay stubs, and photo ID. The New York rental market moves fast, and if you find a place you like, there are no doubt several other people who feel the same way. Be ready to act immediately. You’ll also need to have at least a month’s rent and the security deposit at your disposal.

Read the fine print

As with any contract, make sure you read all the fine print. Landlords may verbally promise to make repairs or have the apartment professionally cleaned, but make sure it’s actually stated in the lease agreement. Your agreement will also include information about previous bed bug infestations and what specifically is or is not included in the rent.

Work with an agent

Finally, the best weapon in your arsenal when you’re renting in NYC for the first time is to enlist the help of a professional real estate agent. The agents at Platinum Properties are here to help you and available to answer your questions at any time. Please click here or give us a call at 646-681-5272. Moving to New York is exciting, and we look forward to helping you find your first New York City apartment!


Want to know more? Check out our Insider’s Guide to Renting in NYC.