If you've ever wanted to move to New York but haven't heard anything about the process it can be described in one word, Painful. As great as New York City is the process of moving is a pain in the a**. Sorry to burst your bubble of excitement but in order to move here you need to be aware of a couple things. I've moved five times in Manhattan, and twice in Brooklyn (where I currently live). If you're wondering why I moved to Brooklyn, check out my article "Why I Became a Brooklyner."
1. Make sure you have the correct paperwork.
If you're making about $50K-$60k and your roommate makes about the same, then you're golden. However if you are like I was and are moving to an apartment while in college or right after obviously money isn't growing on trees so you'll have to use a guarantor. Here's a small checklist of the paperwork you'll need. Please note the requirements change frequently so be sure to check with your real estate agent ahead of time.
2. A guarantor isn't the only solution.
As renters you have to make 40x the amount of rent (yearly). Guarantors have to make 80x the rent (yearly). Sometimes it's impossible, so what do you do? Make your parent sign the lease as a tenant. This way they will only be accounted for making 40x the rent.
Example: If rent is $2,000 a month then you and your roommate must make a combined $80,000 a year. If using a guarantor then they need to make $160,000.
3. You don't need to pay a broker fee.
To me if you're young, have the time to search for listings, and your income is under 100K then you can find an apartment without a broker fee. Yes, they do exist. If not you're looking to pay a 10-15% percent fee off the yearly rent just for an agent to find you an apartment. Meaning if your total rent is $3,000 a month your broker fee is $3,600-$5,400 ($3,000 x 12 months x 10-15%). The latest company I used to find my current apartment in Brooklyn is called Nooklyn. They have multiple no fee apartments not only in Brooklyn but in Manhattan as well.
4. Start preparing your friends for your move.
Yes, friends can be movers too. As soon as I found out my boyfriend and I were moving to our new place in Brooklyn we immediately asked our friends to be free the day of our move. Trust me we've done plenty of favors for them in the past so it was their turn to pay up and help out. However if you can afford to hire movers then do it. Your back and friends will thank you.
5. Essential questions to ask before signing the lease.
Check out the checklist below of the essential questions to ask before you even sign the lease.
6. Understand your pros and cons.
I just moved from Kensington Heights, if you haven't heard of it that's okay because not a lot of people have. Basically it's a very very family oriented area with a large Hasidic Jewish community. Aka quiet AF, no night life, and the closest restaurant is 15-20 minute walk down the road. I loved living there though because I was able to get sooo much done and not be distracted constantly by good restaurants, shopping, or anything that would put a hole in my bank account. However it was time for a change.
We looked at apartments only in Brooklyn, and quickly realized that we weren't going to get everything on our "Apartment needs" list. We looked at an apartment, exactly what we were looking for and only 30 minutes from midtown. However the building was old and run down and most likely we'd be dealing with a lot of maintenance issues with the building. The next apartment, and the one we chose, is another 15 minutes into Brooklyn but the building is brand new, rooftop, courtyard, gym, laundry in building, and dishwasher. Need I say more? I was sold.
Conclusion, justify what is most important to you. To me it was having a place with amenities, and a newer building that wouldn't have a lot of maintenance issues.
7. If all else fails, sublet!
My first apartment, at 18, I subleased a tiny room on Ludlow Street with two guys. My thoughts? It still to this day was my favorite apartment and by far the easiest roommate situation I ever had. The process of paying was so simple, the roommates were easy to get along with (never saw them), and the room had exactly what I needed (a bed, I was never there). Of course I had to pay first month, and a security but I was only there for three months so it was perfect for what it was. Subletting is that easy to find. I had the best luck on Craigslist but there are also other resources like Facebook groups. Highly recommend Gypsy Housing as people post in the group frequently, and there are a lot of options.
Another reason subletting is great is because most of the time the finder will not make you do a credit check. Meaning if your credit sucks or your parents can't act as guarantors then you're all set. Just make sure to be a nice person and pay our rent on time. Also side note, just be smart. Bring a friend with you when going to check out places to sublet, make sure you meet all the roommates, and don't make anyone pressure you to pay something or do something you're not comfortable with.
8. I hope this helps.
I know that when I first moved to New York I wish I had known a couple of these tips in order to save me a couple headaches. If you have any more questions, don't hesitate to ask! I love giving advice and love to hear feedback so please send me an email with anything or everything.