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How to Make the (Affordable!) Move to New York

So you’re moving to New York—whether you have a job, internship or want to step up the search. Congratulations!

Moving to the city is a big but necessary step because as Ed knows all too well, industry openings come fast and need to be filled just as quickly with people who can literally start the next day.

So how can you snag an apartment and ensure that you’re not homeless while you work? The city has its own challenging and somewhat quirky real estate world. But Ed’s got you covered. These resources will get you a roof in no time.

Knowing What You Want
Before starting your search, Ed recommends doing a quick skim of neighborhoods. Being able to narrow where you want to live (and can afford to) will help you navigate the city’s dizzying options.

Some affordable and safe neighborhoods where Ed sees his fellow whippersnappers include:

On the pricier end:
>> The Upper East Side (in a section called Yorkville, which is east of third avenue, between East 79-96th streets). Lynsey Eidell, Senior Editor at Worth, highly recommends this ‘hood. “New restaurants and bars are constantly opening here, it’s very young, and there are some great deals. And—eventually—that Second Ave. subway will open, bringing much improved public transportation access.”
>> The Upper West Side (the Manhattan Valley section especially, which is east of Broadway, between West 100-110th street). “I live on the UWS and got really lucky with my current three-bedroom,” says Meaghan T. O’Connor, Editorial Assistant at Food Network Magazine. “It’s an awesome price point, I can walk to work, and I spend almost all of my free time in the beautiful park there!”
>> Morningside Heights (between West 116-125th street)
>> Murray Hill (East 34th to 40th street, east of Madison Ave.)
>> Hell’s Kitchen (West 42-59th streets, west of 8th avenue)
>> Alphabet City (between 14th street and Houston Street and east of 1st avenue)

On the cheaper end:

>> Washington Heights (West 155-181st street)
>> Bedford-Stuyvesant (in Brooklyn)
>> Astoria (in Queens)
>> East Williamsburg/Bushwick (in Brooklyn)
>> Greenpoint (in Brooklyn)

Year-Long Apartments
If you have committed roomies and a job lined up, finding a year-long rental may be your best bet.

Scoring an apartment in New York often requires a broker, an agent who gets access to and shows you listings. He or she will then negotiate and help you get approved for and secured in your favorite place. Brokers are helpful but come with a massive hitch: a broker’s fee, which is usually 10 to 15 percent of your annual rent.

This cost can be pretty high: for example, if your two-bedroom apartment’s rent is $2,200 a month, your broker’s fee will be between $2,650 to $3,950 on top of a security deposit (usually one month’s rent, which a landlord will hold until the end of your lease to protect against damages) and your first month’s rent. All of this money needs to be given when you sign the lease, which is a lot at once.

“I was totally unprepared for how expensive it is to get into an apartment,” says Kelly Stoddard, former Site Editor for NewBeauty. “If you can afford a broker, I recommend letting them do the work for you, and do try to find a broker who will accept just one month’s rent as her fee. If you can’t swing that, use Craigslist, act fast, and, if it seems too good to be true, it is.”

You can avoid a broker’s fee by finding a no-fee apartment without a broker — tricky but not impossible! Try these resources:

>> Apartable
This site lists available no-fee apartments. Make note of start date — many aren’t available immediately, and all are likely to be hotly competitive. Be ready to commit.

Check under no-fee apartments, but be wary. There are a lot of misleading or fake listings.

StreetEasy posts both no-fee and regular fee apartments. Be sure to customize your search.

Filter for no-fee apartments and be wary. Some listings are fake.

>> The Listings Project
Sign up for a weekly newsletter of apartment listings and sublet opportunities that are curated by an artist (so scam-free!)

Find just no fee apartments listed.

Find just no fee rentals listed.



Trulia allows you to look up information about a potential neighborhood with things like crime mapslocal shopping mapsaffordability information, and more.

Bonus: If you’re in New York, a great method for avoiding a broker is finding a building you like (usually a high-rise) and asking in the leasing office or superintendent if there are any empty units. It’s a way in without an agent—although it’s often only an option in pricier buildings.

To learn more about the apartment renting process in New York, Ed recommends NakedApartment’s very thorough guide, which also breaks down the documentation you’ll need to sign a lease (it too is quirky).

Don’t have roomies? Sublets are great short- or long-term options that will get you a roof — and sometimes lease — without a broker. Many New Yorkers use Craigslist to post rooms available for rent, so start your hunt there.

Check under sublets or room shares and filter by neighborhood and price. Be street smart: if something seems off to you, stay away from it. There are plenty of scammers so generally be wary of anyone asking for money upfront or too-good-to-be-true prices or descriptions. (Ed’s tip: You can often tell a lot by someone’s grammar. The more disgusting it is, the more likely it is to be a scam, so put those editorial skills to use.)

>> Airbnb
Rent for as long as you like by people posting their places directly — Airbnb offers sublets now along with per-night listings.

>> CrashDwell
Rent out apartments from students — this is especially good if you’re looking for summer housing. 

Summer Housing
Have a summer internship? One of the easiest ways to get safe housing just for the length of time you need it is to stay in a student dorm. The following schools offer summer housing for interns.

>> NYU Summer Housing (located in Greenwich Village)
>> Columbia (located in Morningside Heights)
>> SVA (located primarily in the Flatiron District)
>> FIT (located in Chelsea)
>> Student Housing (includes the New Yorker residence (Chelsea), Marymount Manhattan (Upper East Side) and St. George residence (Brooklyn Heights))
>> International House (located in Morningside Heights)
>> NYCIntern (includes options in the Financial District, Brooklyn Heights and midtown). Ashley Hill, a former Seventeen intern and current staff writer at The Record Delta, used this program and recommends it: “NYCIntern provided me with 24-hour doorman security, which I loved, and they had an accommodating, friendly staff.”
>> New School (options located in Chelsea and Union Square)

Per-Night Stay Lodging
Looking for something very temporary? Hostels offer cheap per-night places to crash in as you look for housing or interview. The following hostels are located in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

In Manhattan:
>> Jazz Hostels (locations on the Upper West Side and Chelsea)
>> Hostelling International (located on the Upper West Side)
>> Central Park Inn (located on the Upper West Side)
>> Broadway Hostel (located on the Upper West Side)
>> International Student Center (located on the Upper West Side)
>> POD Hostels (locations in Midtown)
>> Urban Oasis (located in Midtown)
>> New York Budget Inn (located in Midtown)
>> Equity Point Times Square (located in Midtown)
>> Chelsea Hostel (located in Chelsea)
>> American Dream Hostel (located in the Flatiron District)
>> Off Soho Suites (located on the Lower East Side)

In the outer boroughs:
>> NY Moore Hostel (located in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
>> NY Loft Hostel (located in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
>> Q4 Hotel (located in Long Island City, Queens)

Psst, here’s Ed’s biggest housing tip!
Regardless of what you’re looking for, put your social network to use. Like jobs, Ed’s best housing leads haven’t always been posted online — they’ve been word of mouth through friends. “Reach out to the people you know first,” suggests Tehrene Firman, Online Entertainment Editor at Teen Vogue. “You’d be surprised how often things come together that way. With a massive network, someone is likely to be able to tip you off about an apartment or potential roommate.” Put out feelers with people you know in New York and see if they know anyone looking for a roommate or who’s subletting. You never know what you may find, so be aggressive and keep at it. Happy searching!

—Additional reporting by Gennifer Delman

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