Some people want to know more about how I prepared for my move to the city and how I found a place. It’s no easy task. But I love to impart my knowledge, so read up.
Most of the process I used to find a place to live can be applied to moving anywhere, not just NYC. It consisted of searching, comparing, online verification and skype, and then cautiously proceeding to securing the place.
Apartments/rooms for rent here go FAST, especially the nice ones, so you have to be quick. This means that its more difficult to secure a place early on in your move. Most people want a roommate to move in immediately and they also would prefer to meet you in person. I struggled with this because I wanted to secure a place to go to as soon as I arrived in the city. However, even though the rooms go fast, there are always more being posted.
Firstly, decide if you want your own place or if you are going to be rooming with others. Look at the prices of apartments on Rent.com for the area you want to go to. Do your research on the safest neighborhoods. Let your friends know you are moving to that area and the chances are, someone knows someone living there who can help you. I personally have made tons of connections before actually moving and I have allies all over.
Unless you’re willing to spend a lot of money on rent, renting a room and sharing a place with roommates is the way to go. Rent for a studio or 1 bedroom can be an average of $1,000-$3,000/month. However, there are plenty of rooms being rented out for less, you just have to know where to look.
Where do you want to be? What do you need to be close to? In NYC, Manhattan is the main hub, but rent and living within the borough will be higher. Ideal places are a 15 minute train ride into Manhattan and safe to walk. I’m realizing I need to be much closer, but even though my commute to New York is 50 minutes, I love the location in the Bronx.
With help and research (AKA, mainly looking at a map), I have found several great neighborhoods to live in. You want to find a safe neighborhood. Unless of course, you are a thug and like to live on the wild side.
During my search for a place, I frequented Google maps very often, looked up subway routes on Google maps, and slowly familiarized myself with the areas. This was very helpful in acquainting myself with the area before arrival.
- Brooklyn Heights
- Downtown Brooklyn
- Park Slope
- Greene Point
Jersey City (I considered Jersey City, but they have a separate transit system, which would have made getting a card for the transit system more confusing)
Manhattan (There are probably more neighborhoods to look into, but I didn’t get that in depth)
- Washington Heights
- Lower East Side
There are more nice areas, but the further out you get, the longer your commute. Woodlawn, Bronx is very nice but it is also far. It really depends on what you want to be near and what you’re doing in NYC. Keep in mind that miles in the city are much different than probably where you are from. One block can mean the difference between a gated community and a ghetto and not many can simply walk 1, 2, or 5 miles to a destination. Make sure to look at commute times on Google maps.
While I searched, there were a few helpful websites I looked for rooms and apartments on.
This included the following:
- Padmapper.com (extremely helpful site that takes listings mainly from Craigslist and puts them into a map of the area you are looking at.)
- Craigslist.com (well, duh)
- Sublets.com (this is ultimately where I found the place I decided on. There are some listings that are free to contact, but they aren’t “Verified” listings. My landlord was smart and had a phone number in the window of her house in her listing photos.)
From my experience, I find the best way is to do your search by location and rent. Set your budget. For example, if you set it for $900 – $1,000, that gives you plenty of room to find something for equal to or under that price. Many places include utilities in the rent, like mine. You should be cautious of listings below $450 and maybe even $500 because these rents are suspiciously low. Its better to play it safe since you are moving from out of state and you can’t exactly visit the place before securing it and moving in.
Make sure there are photos and look at the essentials that you would need. Is a bigger kitchen for you necessary if you like to cook? Cooking your own food saves a lot of money,
which is how I go. So for me a larger kitchen is important. How many roommates vs bathrooms? Closet? Is it furnished? Are utilities and internet included? How close are you to the subway (this is important because you don’t want to be doing too much walking in areas you don’t know, especially if you are out late)? How big is the room? What are the ground rules? Do the roommates meet your standards? These are all important questions to ask if they aren’t already specified in the listing.
Send emails to all listings that look like they could work. If there is a number to call, call them instead. Make your emails unique to prove that you are an interesting person and you’re worth their time. Look at the sites listed above every day, as there will be new listings.
Continue to part 2 here in my next post: How to Move to New York City part 2…
Briauna Mariah (: