Part 2 How to Move to New York City continued…
Click here to view previous post; part 1 How to Move to New York City
Well, its just that. Compare what you see. You’ll know when a place feels right. Some people may not reply at all and some will reply with a “Sorry, but we just had an open house and have found our new roommate already.” Others will be almost a little too eager to have you. Be aware of these. There are many, many scams online. I came across several in my search.
When you are sending out emails, offer to schedule a phone call and/or video chat/Skype interview. A video interview does not prove that the person on the other side isn’t going to scam you, but it does help verify the person to some extent. For one, you can see the place they are in. If their roommates are around, its a good idea to ask to talk to them on video as well.
When you feel right, proceed cautiously. DO NOT SEND ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION UNTIL YOU FEEL 100% SURE THEY AREN’T GOING TO TRY TO HACK YOU.
The best thing is to get some sort of agreement in writing.
This is a very important step in making you feel more comfortable with deciding on a place. During my search, there was only one person I felt 100% comfortable with and that was the woman I am renting from now. Even though I am far from Manhattan, I have a month to get comfortable and potentially meet new roommates who are closer. My landlord was the only person I was also able to completely verify the identity of online.
I got her exact address and first and last name. I had made phone calls with her so I had two of her numbers. The sites I used to verify were:
- Spokeo.com (Identification.)
- Google (Identification. I discovered a guy that I thought was pretty safe, but had over 34 negative reviews on Google reviews.)
- Yelp (If you are looking at an apartment complex or brokerage business.)
- Zillow.com (links to the county tax assessor where you can look up tax records. That’s where the homeowner name is verified.)
When I looked her up, the numbers, names, age, address all matched up. She was the listed owner of the house she is renting rooms for. And, when I called her, she nearly always answered. When there was no answer, I would leave a message and she would call me back.
Calling someone at a work number is a pretty good way as well. A work phone number + a real business in the world is easy to check online. If you call for the person at work and they are the one you get to talk to you can be pretty sure that is who they say there are. Just for identity verification of course.
Landlords may ask for your Facebook, too. It’s good for looking people up and verifying them, so don’t be afraid to ask for their Facebook.
Be aware of the flaky people who keep disappearing and making promises to send photos/emails and never getting around to it. Even if the place they are offering seems perfect, please be cautious!
Get to know your landlord on the phone and video chat. I never video chatted my landlord, but I didn’t need to. She talked a lot and she was very personal. She picked me because she likes nice tenants/roommates who aren’t going to wreak havoc. She made sure to spend the time talking to me on the phone to get to know me and from there, she could tell I would be a good renter.
First step in securing my place with my new landlord was to stop searching and let her know that I will be renting from her. Make sure you are both on the same page. I even said, to make sure, “Don’t rent it out to anyone else, please. I will rent from you.” And I moved the process along by asking how she wanted to go forward. She didn’t care when I sent the check to secure the place, which was a good sign, because that told me she wasn’t too concerned about it. If she had been too eager for the check or money order, that would have caused suspicion.
I called my bank before sending her security deposit and rent and made sure it was possible to have my check disputed if anything went wrong. Put an extra layer of caution, and get a written agreement first. If they are willing to let you wait to pay when you get there, that is even better.
Just remember – a lot of damage can be done with seemingly insignificant personal information so be very cautious. Paying with PayPal is another way to ensure you can “dispute” the transaction if something goes terribly wrong as well as some sites (like Airbnb.com) who offer secure payments that really protect you as the renter.
My next step was to make sure I could get all my stuff to the place. I had 3 medium sized boxes plus my bike and I shipped them all Care/Of my landlord and she brought them all in to my room for when I arrived. On average, each box cost $40 to ship across the country and my bike was $150. I made sure to insure everything of value in case of damage. (Now I have to get the bike pieced back together, so damage is yet to be assessed).
Ask a Friend
Everyone always needs a plan B, right? If I had had someone to move in with for a week or two, I would have gone that route and then try to secure a place while I’m already in the city. However, with my situation, I had no one to ask to stay with.
If you have someone you’re comfortable asking, then by all means, skip all these steps and work something out with them. Looking for a place would be easier because you could meet the roommates in person and see the places for yourself.
Try A Hostel
If you don’t have a fallback person, at least have a fallback place. One of the above mentioned sites was airbnb.com. This has safe, verified listings of more temporary stay places. You’ll want to book a place with much advance to get a cheaper rent.
I did find a hostel on this airbnb.com site with a dorm-like setup in Brooklyn that was going to be my plan B if I didn’t find an ideal place. I would have stuck with going to this hostel for my first month, but I didn’t like the idea of being crammed with a bunch of other people… where would I put all my shoes?! The place is a decent price and I was glad to have found this Brooklyn hostel.
There are lots of brokers out there who will take care of all the rental details for you and help find a place. The only thing with this option is that they cost a few hundred dollars and I never looked into this option.
I hope this helps!
Briauna Mariah (:
P.S. I had saved up enough money back in Washington to live here comfortably for a few months, so if you don’t have anything set up for finances, you should probably take additional steps to secure a source of income.