So you want to move to NYC, huh?! Well, lucky for you I’ve done it (several times) and I’m here to help.
Most cities have income requirements for rent, but NYC takes it to a whole new level, especially if you are planning to live in Manhattan. To get approved for an apartment in the city the standard requirement is that you have to make 40x the monthly rent. So, if you want a $1600 studio, to get approved you will need to make $64,000 annually. If you don’t make the requirement, you generally will have the option to have a guarantor who needs to make 80x the monthly rent. Some management companies and landlords are more strict than others but this is the standard. Credit scores are really important when it comes to getting approved too, so if you’re still a little short if you have great credit, you have a better chance of being approved. You might also have the option to pay several months up front or put down a larger security deposit too — it really just depends on the rules for the apartment.
FEE VS NO FEE:
This is something I’d never heard of until moving here. When you search for apartments you will see the option to search fee or no fee apartments — this applies to the broker’s fee. Because the market is so competitive here, tenants have to pay a broker a fee for securing them an apartment. This includes their services for finding you an apartment, managing showings, submitting your paperwork, and completing the transaction. It used to be easier to find no fee apartments, but now that the market has picked up it’s become a lot harder unless you’re looking at luxury rentals. The standard fee is 15% of the first month’s rent — but you can try and negotiate the fee.
Also note, that no-fee apartments are more expensive than fee apartments. This is because the landlords are paying the broker’s fee instead of you, so they end up charging you more, which can end up costing you more money if you plan at staying at the apartment for awhile. Plus, you’ll need a higher income to get approved for them.
I’ve been through the rental process a few times now, so I’ve definitely learned a lot along the way, but I am by no means a real estate professional. Here are some professional resources:
Here’s a look at the documents I have had to provide when applying for an apartment and warning it’s a lot! Different apartments will have different requirements but here’s a good overview of what you should have ready to go:
- Copy of photo ID
- 2 pay stubs
- 2 years of previous tax returns
- 2 years worth of W-2s
- 2-3 months worth of bank statements
- Employment verification letter from employer
- Rental reference letter
- Contact info for past landlords
- Verification of assets (if any)
- Pet info (if any) — photo, weight, breed info
Self-employed? Here are few more items you may need:
- Signed letter from CPA stating your income for the previous year and your projected income for the year
- Accountant name and contact information
- Business/personal references
REAL ESTATE LISTING WEBSITES:
NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDE RESOURCES:
- One of my go-to neighborhood guides is Compass. They do a really awesome job of giving you a peek into the neighborhood as well as what the going rates for apartments are there. They also have a listings integration which is great! https://www.compass.com/neighborhood-guides/nyc/
- Another good neighborhood guide I use is Urban Edge's guide. http://www.urbanedgeny.com/neighborhood/manhattan-apartments
- This is kind of more tourist-driven, but they highlight some of the destinations in each neighborhood: http://www.nycgo.com/articles/manhattan
- This website is kind of an Yelp for neighborhoods. unfortunately some of the reviews aren’t super recent (neighborhoods change a lot in a few years too) but it gives you a decent overview of different options: http://www.streetadvisor.com
- This is AMNewYork’s real estate section. They do neighborhood features every week. Sometimes I think they try and glorify some of the developing neighborhoods that I personally wouldn’t want to live in, but they have some good features: http://www.amny.com/urbanite-1.812039?tags=real+estate
- This is just a general real estate resource, but it’s a really good one that is always used as a resource for news stories. Some of the stuff is over the top on luxury posts, but they offer some good advice for tenants sometimes and also let you in on what neighborhoods are up-and-coming: http://therealdeal.com
In my opinion, the top neighborhoods I’d suggest to consider that are safe, decently affordable, and fun are:
- Upper East Side: I might be biased on this one (I've lived on the UES for 6 years), but it’s safe, and you’ll get bigger spaces for your buck but it’s also pretty convenient to anywhere in Manhattan. I’d suggest anything below 100th street — East Harlem starts above 100th and while the rent is definitely cheaper, I wouldn’t personally feel comfortable living there.
- Upper West Side: I love the Upper West Side. It has a little more families, but I love all of the brownstones and they have a tonnn of yummy food (especially the 60’s through the 80’s). It’s a little more expensive than the UES but still one of the more affordable neighborhoods. I’d feel comfortable living a little further up on the west side than the east side — probably up to about 110, maybe a little higher, depending on which avenue it is on. Columbia University is also up further on the West Side and is a pretty safe and nice area as well.
- Lower East Side: The Lower East Side is a hopping neighborhood and great if you're into restaurants and the nightlife scene. Apartments are a little smaller than uptown for the price, but it can be a great neighborhood for many.
- Chelsea: The further downtown you get, generally the smaller the apartments get and the more money you’ll pay. I do have some friends who have scored pretty good apartments in Chelsea though. It’s a super cute neighborhood that is rich in the arts scene and generally very LGBTQ friendly.
DOLLAR DOLLAR BILLS $$$:
Before you decide to move to NYC, make sure you have the funds. Moving here is a lot more expensive than you might expect. Here are the fees you need to plan for:
- Brokers fee — 15% first year’s rent $1600 apartment = $2,880
- First month’s rent
- Security deposit — equal to 1-2 months rent
- Application/credit check — usually between $50-100, you will have to pay for two applications if you have a guarantor.
*Please note this information is based on my personal experiences and should not be considered professional advice.