I am so excited to kick-off my new spring blog series, So You Want to Move to NYC. I feel so lucky to have connected with some of my readers from all over the country over the last few years and something I get asked about a lot is moving here. It turns out, there’s quite a lot of you out there who dream of living in the big apple! Well, I’m here to tell you, you can do it! While it can be a scary process at first, after successfully moving across the country from Oregon (and two more times within the city) I’ve done it and I’m here to help you feel confident that you can too. That’s why for the next 6 weeks I’ve teamed up with the awesome pros over at FlatRate Moving to walk you through the process and give you some pro tips and tricks along the way!
Today I’m going to start the series by talking to you all about research! NYC’s real estate market is a little different than other cities (that I’ve lived in at least) and let’s just say the process is a little more competitive and requires a whole lot more paperwork!
Get to know the Market: Time willing, if you’re planning a future move within 3+ months I suggest you take some time to do some online window shopping. Looking at listings when you’re not bound by a move-date makes it a little easier to be objective and understand what types of listings are going to be available. If you’re moving to NYC from anywhere in the country with the exceptions of San Francisco or LA, you’re probably going to be looking at downsizing. Used to living in a 1 bedroom? Here it might be a small studio or you might decide you want to live with a roommate. This is what I consider the “reality check” period. Take the time to get familiar with the kinds of apartments NYC offers on some of the popular real estate websites (see below for some of my favorite resources) so you feel more comfortable with your options.
Resources: What are the best resources to find listings? Here’s a look at some of my personal favorites. StreetEasy and Naked Apartments are definitely my top two resources because both are where I found my last two apartments. For the most part, the listings are generally pretty accurate too. StreetEasy is great because you can look up the rental/sales records for most buildings in the city, which is great when you’re walking by a cute building and want to see if there’s any current listings. I also love Naked Apartments because there is a direct broker option where you can communicate within the website as well as read past reviews by other users. They also have an option to compare apartment photos/listings by different brokers when it is listed by multiple agents. This can really help make sure you aren’t being bait and switched.
Get to know the Neighborhoods: One of my favorite resources for getting to know different neighborhoods is Compass. They have a seriously great neighborhood guide that I definitely recommend. From the types of people who live there to the neighborhood borders and real estate market, they do a great job of laying out the details for each.
Set Your Budget: Okay… the scary part. Budget. What can you really afford? Do you want the good or bad news..? We’ll start with the bad so we can end on a happy note. The bad news is you’re probably going to get a lot less for your budget here, but you probably already knew that anyways after browsing the market. By a general rule of thumb, landlords and management companies are going to require that you have an income of at least 40 times the monthly rent. Some require up to 50, but every apartment I’ve rented from has been 40. After doing a little math, that number can be a little scary at first, but some buildings are more lenient if you have great credit.
The other scenario is having a guarantor (aka a cosigner). If you don’t make the minimum income requirements you may be able to have a guarantor apply and sign a lease with you. To have a guarantor, landlords usually want to see an income of 80 times the monthly rent. Does that situation still make you a little uneasy? Don’t worry you’re not out of luck! If you don’t meet the requirements or have a guarantor you may be able to pay an additional security deposit or additional rent upfront. You can also look into subleasing or looking outside of Manhattan where some of the restrictions aren’t as strict.
Now that that’s out of the way… some good news! Rent might be expensive but for the most part (unless you’re in a new elevator building) your heat, hot water, garbage and sewer are all included in your monthly rent. That wasn’t the case when I moved from Portland so that was another hundred dollars or so I could then put towards my rent budget. Plus, you won’t need a car so you can save on a car payment, insurance, and buying gas! So there’s that bit of good news that should help your budget a little bit.
Timing: When should you actually start the apartment hunt? Coming from someone who is a total planner this part frustrates me a little bit because you really can’t start looking for apartments until you’re about 4-6 weeks out. Because there’s such a low inventory of apartments (especially in the summer) apartments aren’t usually available much further out than a month – most being available immediately. If your move-date is flexible then this won’t be such an issue, but falling in love with a place that is available a month before you’re looking to move can end up being costly if you have to pay double-rent.
Brokers: This is another part of the moving process that is a little different here. You may have used brokers in other large cities, but something that makes NYC a little different isyou are usually the one that gets slapped with paying a broker’s fee (which isn’t cheap). If you take the time to find a good broker, they really can make the process less stressful though, especially for someone from out of town who is going through the process for the first time. Here’s a bit of advice from FlatRate Moving, “Do not hire the first real estate broker you meet, you can always hire them later if they meet your criteria. It’s important to meet with several New York City brokers and find out how long they’ve been in the business, how they handle their communications (email, text, phone, etc.), and what they will charge for their work.”
And that wraps up today’s topic! Now it’s your turn to start some of your own research! I admit it’s a lot to take in, but education is key! The more you know about the process the more at ease you’ll feel when you go through it.
Another big thanks to FlatRate Moving for helping me present this series and for the great tips! Make sure to tune in every Tuesday to keep up with the series and check out my Move Here tab for some additional tips/resources I suggest.