What's the best way to shop for an apartment in NYC?

ok, i know not a strictly factual question and I will be happy if this is moved elsewhere as long as I can get some advice.

Ive got a new job at about 30th & Lex, so the 4-5-6 is my train, I dont care much how long I actually spend on the train, but I rather not be more than 5 blocks form a station, and I’d rather ony change once, oh and I rather be below work in Manhattan, or in Brooklyn.

So Gramercy, NoHo, Chinatown, SoHo all the way to Park Slope, Brooklyn is fine.Williamsburg, Brooklyn as long as its 5 blocks form an L stop is good too.

I’ll even go west side, 9th up to 23rd along 8th Ave, or down in Tribeca as long as Im close to Chambes and can take the 1-9 to Fulton to switch to the 4-5-6.

Actually anything off the F in Brooklyn is ok too.

Sorry, I know this is not exactly what the SDMB is for, but I start work next monday with my new job and I’m homeless having just arrived from Denver. The papers are useless, websites are worse, and my attempt to just walk five block radii of the subway stops resulted in me hitting about 42 starbucks and seeing all of 6 'For Rent" signs.

Any suggestion on how to better go about it?

oh yeah. $1200, is preferable, $1600 is doable, $2000 is a reach.

Thankyou smartest people in the universe.


Good luck & welcome to NYC!

Have you considered living in an intentional community?

are you going to live in manhattan? why not live in queens or long island, the real estate is cheaper.

Damn Ny is expensive!

$1500 per month plus for a studio? How in the world do New Yorkers survive there, unless you are super rich?

Where do the cops, garbagemen, teachers, retail managers, (no comparison) fast food employees, taxi drivers live? In New Jersey?

I would like to live in San Francisco (I have a Chinese wife), but the prices there are a killer too. I just feel that if you work full time you should be able to live like a human being and not kill yourself.


PS In Hangzhou, China, I live in a 2 1/2 Bedrm, 2 Bath, Kitchen, large living room with pool and security for $350/ a month. My wife is complaining that this place is too expensive!

The New York Times real estate section lets you search ads by rent, apartment type, number of bedrooms, and neighborhood. I found my current apartment that way.

Don’t discount the Upper East Side - once you get east of Lex the prices start to drop quite attractively. I just moved out of a gorgeous studio on 73rd & 3rd for which I was paying $1650, and I signed that lease before rents started their post-9/11 plummit.

As for searching:

  1. Wake up early on Sunday and buy the Times.

  2. “No Fee” is not a myth - some landlords have websites with apartment listings.

Most of Manhattan is prohibitively expensive. You’re talking $2000 for a shoebox. The gentrified areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn are not much better, price wise, although you might get more bang for your buck, space wise.

An attorney in my office just vacated a 5th floor walkup studio on the upper west side - going price $1750.

http://www.newyorkbusinessinfo.com has some general info on neighborhoods and such and may help you get started in your search.

Try here also - http://nofeeapartments.net/Studio.htm

Good luck!

Yahoo real estate is a sort of meta-engine.


There are very, very few bargains left. I’ve lived in New York since the real estate crash of the early 90s, when it was a renter’s paradise.

One thing you must, must know is that if you go through a broker, you will not only have to cough up the first and last month’s rent, minimum, but also a fee. The latter is a killer: generally 15%, IIRC, of the annual rent, or basically another 2 months’ worth. This will hold true almost invariably in all of Manhattan below 96th Street (and probably below 125th Street) and most the closer neighborhoods of Brooklyn (Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Fort Greene, Williamsburg, Dumbo, Bklyn Hts, Prospect Hts, Windsor Terrace). I know less about the more attractive New Jersey communities, such as Hoboken, but judging from the rents I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s pretty similar.

How do people afford it? People from outside NYC who are taking higher-end jobs often negotiate housing up-front, as in “I’m not going there unless you set me up first.” The rest struggle.

Convenience costs, and if you can’t afford it you spend a lot of time commuting. The other option is to find a roommate, which is why in NYC a lot of follks well into their 30s and 40s have roommates.

When I was a student I found a good roommate situation in the Village Voice, which comes out on Tuesday afternoons.

For shared spaces, try Craig’s List (linked above) or http://www.aprilslist.com/. Last time I was shopping for a place I found lots of good shares in Chinatown right next to the East Broadway stop. The neighborhood’s walking distance to Soho, Loisaida, and other good neighborhoods. And the apartments tend to be loft spaces so you don’t feel like you’re in a shoebox.

The best way to find a place is by word of mouth, but unfortunately that doesn’t help a newcomer like you.

$925.00/month 1BR in Hoboken. I went down a couple days early and GASP checked things out with a broker. I told her I didn’t want to spend anything more than 1200, and we found a 1BR railroad listed at 1150, which she was able to talk the owner down to 925 for me. I had to pay equal to one month’s rent as a broker fee (but I save 225 a month due to her negotiating), and equal to 1.5 months as a security deposit fee which I’ll get back in september.

More importantly, as a 22 yo with his first “real” job in NYC, it’s very close (PATH train takes like 15 mins to get to midtown where I work), and Hoboken does hold the current record of most bars per square mile in the world.

All this being said, once I’ve finished crawling out of credit card and student loan debt, I’m looking across the Mighty Hudson to shack up over in Manhattan.

Another point: people who get incredible bargain apartments get them through connections. I had a cheap studio in the West Village from 95-97, which I sublet from a friend of a friend - but I’d been living here for four years by then.

If you see flyers promising absurdly low rents, rest assured that there’s something skeevy going on and don’t get taken. I once ended up with an eviction notice 5 days after I moved in, for a deal that turned out to be too good to be true.

It’s possible to find studio apartments for under a grand in SF, but not often, and they’re invariably in armpit areas of town. For someone working a $12.00/hour job 40 hours a week, just under $2000 per month BEFORE taxes, you’d better have a roommate, ratchet spending down to nil, or live in an SRO hotel - one room, shared bathroom, roaches, whores, and crack dealers for maybe $125.00 per week. That’s what I did for 18 months or so when I moved there…