How to look for a place in NYC?

If you’re moving there as an underpaid or unpaid intern, as am I, definitely definitely go for a craigslist temporary sublet. Don’t even contact a broker unless you’re sitting on a pile of money.

Step 1: Find out what neighbourhood you would most likely love to live in

  • Yes, because you won’t be living ~in New York~, instead, you’ll temporarily become a resident of the LES, Midtown, Bushwick, RedHook, etc. where you’ll hang, do your groceries and laundry, party, ~fall in lovooovvveee~ (JK), etceteruuuh.
  • Consider the closer to Central Park and/or the Midtown-South area of Manhattan, the most expensive it gets
  • Brooklyn is preeeetty happening and close to the ~cool~ areas of Manhattan so definitely consider it
    • EXCEPT neighbourhoods such as: Dyker Heights, Brighton Beach, Midwood, or Red Hook, that are suuuuuper boring far away.
    • Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Prospect Park, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Crown Heights are my favourites.
  • Queens is also not bad! I don’t know it as well as Brooklyn, but I can definitely recommend Rego Park, Astoria, and Corona. It’s also super close to midtown. I would highly consider it.
  • You can go to http://nymag.com/realestate/articles/neighborhoods/chelsea.htm  and check out every neighbourhood description, including average rent, in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn
  • Also, check out this homicide map, although who cares, we’re young and invincible — unless you’re a black/latino man because of the racist system of oppression we live in


Step 2: Figure out $Budget$ and what you’re willing to compromise

  • Now that you carefully researched every neighbourhood, you can narrow down those you want to live in according to price
    • I know this should be Step 1, however NYC is pricier than most cities so you might need to readjust your idea of what an expensive rent is
  • Don’t compromise on location: If there is anything that years of watching HGTV have taught me, it’s that it’s all about Location! Location! Location!
    • I mean think about it, who cares if you live in a closet as long as it’s close to cool bars, a laundromat (no joke), cool restaurants, cool people, and whatever else you need to be happy
    • For me, that’s the Greenpoint-Williamsburg-Bushwick area #justsaying #biased
    • If you can totally envision yourself being the happiest person in X neighbourhood, make it a goal to a) live there or b) live a close subway ride to it if too expensive
    • If you definitely want to get the Manhattan experience, whatever that may be, you’ll definitely be paying tons of money (a minimum of 900-1,500/month per room) but if you can afford that, do it, ~no judging~
    • Consider that regardless of where, you WILL be sharing an apartment with a bunch of people
  • Compromise on space: because, if you’re doing it right, you won’t even be in your apartment most of the time
    • Having a tiny/crappy room may encourage you to get out more, which is great!
  • Tranportation: New York has many subway lines and an awesome subway system, however some of them are evil and break all the time – BEWARE
    • The G is perhaps the worst
    • The L is pretty bad too
    • The others are OK but you never know then they’ll put a line or station “under repairs” so take that into account
    • Try to live somewhere where 2 subway lines intersect
  • Safety: Ok, NYC is pretty safe. You will probably be OK as long as you don’t take unnecessary risks like stumbling to your home intoxicated and alone at 4am. If you find a place that’s in a “bad” neighbourhood but want to take it anyways because it’s cheap (been there), make sure it’s close to a subway station so the walk home is not too scary. Protip: if you find a place that sounds lovely, visit the neighbourhood at night before viewing it and if it scares you a lot, don’t take it. 
Step 3: actually look for the place

Step 4: contact the person renting it and try to get it

  • Lol, as if it was that easy – it’s not
  • First, be aware that NYC is mostly a renters market and that you’re in a huge disadvantage because you’re not in the city yet (assuming that you’re doing all the searching from home).
  • I would actually recommend heading to NYC a week or so before a month starts, doing CouchSurfing or staying with a good friend for a couple of days – maybe a week – and looking once you’re in the city
  • Most places don’t even usually go up before 2 weeks they’re available
  • Otherwise, make sure to write a nice email where you outline when you’re getting to they city, why, and suggest a Skype meeting/tour of the place
  • Wait… you don’t know what couchsurfing is??? OMG, only the best project ever  –> http://www.couchsurfing.org/
  • Protip: while apartment-hunting, ALWAYS bring a blank, non-signed cheque when you view a place — just in case you end up absolutely loving it. That way no one can take it from you. Muahaha.
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