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7 Tips for NYC Apartment Hunting ...

By Lauren

So you've decided to live in the city so nice they named it twice: New York, NY! New York City is an amazing place to live and is filled with infinite opportunities and adventures. However, such a large city comes with its own challenges when looking for the perfect apartment. Follow these 7 Tips For NYC Apartment Hunting to help make your apartment search easier and less stressful.

1 Know the Difference between a Co-op, Sublet and Rental

When I moved out from my parents' house and was looking at jersey city apartments, I came  across a few terms that one should know the definition of. A rental apartment is the most common type of apartment where you sign a lease for a set period of time and have a landlord. A sublet is when someone has already signed a lease but wants to rent out their apartment while they are not there in order to continue paying. A sublet is usually for a shorter period of time then a rental lease. A Co-op apartment or housing cooperative is a corporation that owns a building and people can buy out units to either live in or rent to others. Renting in a co-op means a ton of paperwork, a board meeting and sometimes waiting a long time before you find out if you were approved. The good thing about a co-op though is that it's usually in a very nice building that includes an elevator, doorman, laundry and a roof-deck at a lower price then a normal rental.

2 Know if a Studio Apartment is Enough

A great way to save some money in New York City is by renting a studio apartment. If you don't know already, a studio is an apartment comprised of only one main room and usually a separate bathroom. This means that your living room, bedroom and kitchen all occupy the same space. For some people, it feels more like you're living in a hotel then an apartment, but others like the open space feel of a studio. Many studios also have a loft area where you can put your bed above your living room to create more space. There are many creative ways you can segment off your space to make a studio more cozy, however it may not be the best place to live with someone else as there is little to no privacy.

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3 Streeteasy.com

Let me start by saying that Streeteasy.com was my absolute favorite site to use while looking for an apartment in NYC. Like many other apartment searching websites, you can input your price range, bedroom needs and desired neighborhood. The things that set this site apart though is that on every listing, they show nearby subways, nearby schools, previous times the apartment was listed and how much it was rented for, and also more apartment units that are currently listed in the same building. The more information you get up front on a listing, the better, and that's why Streeteasy.com is so great.

4 Padmapper.com

Padmapper.com is a great site when it comes to finding out the price range of apartments in various NYC neighborhoods. The site pulls listings from craigslist.com, apartments.com, and rent.com, and plants them on a map so you can see what apartments in your price range are located. When I started my apartment hunt, I had one maximum price amount in mind, but then after using Padmapper and finding nothing in the areas I was looking at for my price, I ended up bumping up my maximum price by about $300 more a month. City living isn't easy on your finances, that's for sure!

5 Know the Neighborhoods

Please, please, please do your research on the area you plan to spend the next year or so of your life in. My last apartment was in a neighborhood in Queens, which at first glance seemed good, but after moving in I felt scared walking home from work everyday, not to mention my boyfriend's car tires got stolen while it was in front of my apartment and my roommate's car window got broken into. A good resource to look at is the website dnainfo.com which breaks down each neighborhood in the 5 Burroughs, gives it a ranking, and lists the percentages of crimes in the area. A good rule of thumb is if an apartment looks beautiful and the price seems too good to be true... it's usually not in the best area.

6 Meet Your Landlord

Here are my tales of landlord woe: I first rented an apartment that had the laziest landlord who wouldn't come to fix anything including a water leak in the bathroom that caused the ceiling to start collapsing, and my second landlord would tell my roommates and I we couldn't have guests over, threatened to lock us out of the building and kept our deposit for no reason when I moved out for which I am still in a legal battle. Learn from my mistakes and meet your landlord before you sign the lease! Even better, if you can find an apartment to rent that is owned by a company rather then one person, it is usually much better managed.

7 Map Your Daily Commute

How much time do you want to spend on your daily commute? The further you get from Manhattan, the cheaper apartments will be but your commute will be longer if you go to school or work there. Hopstop or Google Maps are helpful in showing you public transit directions and the time it will take to get from point A to point B. Remember to factor in waiting time for buses and subways especially if you need to transfer. Keep in mind too that taxi drivers can be mean when it comes to driving you far out into another borough from Manhattan where they either won't take you or try to get more money from you. Trust me, both have happened to me many times.

Obviously, make sure you go and see your apartment before committing to renting it. Many listings online can be misleading and what may seem like a gorgeous 1 bedroom apartment in pictures can quickly turn into a closet sized apartment with a bathroom in the kitchen when you actually get there to see it. (Yes that actually happened to me) What were some of the mistakes you've made while looking for a NYC apartment that others can learn from? Or if this is your first move to the big apple, what issues have you run into so far on your search?

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