How To Look For An Apartment

Apartments NYC

 

So you’ve decided that you’re going to find a new apartment in New York City. That’s great! The journey of a thousand miles (or maybe in your case, only a few blocks) begins with a single step. The first step is setting your criteria. This will help you narrow down your search to the apartments you truly want.

 

PRICE RANGE

 

Price Ranges for Apartments in NYC 

 

The most important criteria is PRICE. Right away, you need to determine two numbers:

 

  1. What you can afford to spend

  2. What you would like to spend

These numbers can fluctuate based on a number of factors, like taxes, commuting costs, and other variables that differ based on the apartment and the neighborhood. It is imperative that you have a ballpark number in mind for what you’re looking to pay for your NYC apartment.


DETERMINING YOUR PRICE RANGE

Determining what you can afford and would like to spend ultimately comes down to the income and wealth you have at your disposal. Your desired price is a matter of choice, but there is a bit of a science to affordability. Economists have often cited the optimal maximum amount of your income to spend on living expenses is 30%. In New York City, however, it's very common for households to spend 40% or more of their income on housing.. Your milage may vary, as these statistics prove. Keep in mind factors such as your savings, wealth, job security, other potential earnings, and value when setting your ideal price points. Once you come to a price point, you can begin looking at an optimal apartment size. If you’re buying an apartment, keep in mind the average down payment on an apartment is about 27.1% according to Streeteasy. If you’re renting an apartment with a fee, keep in mind that the fee will add roughly 15% on top of your monthly rent (but often can be negotiated down.)

 

APARTMENT SIZE

 

Apartment Sizes  


The next step of your process is to nail down the number of bedrooms/bathrooms you’ll want in your new NYC apartment, and/or the amount of square feet it should have. Whether or not you’re planning on moving in with a partner, splitting space with roommates, or flying solo is up to you, but you need to consider what you and/or your group can afford in choosing your apartment. Most NYC apartments are either studios, one bedrooms or two bedroom apartments; you can always install temporary walls, provided the unit has adequate square feet.  

 

NEIGHBORHOOD

 

NYC Neighborhood 

 

Now that you’ve determined your ideal apartment size and what you can spend, neighborhoods where those units fall under your price range should become clear. Based on your workplace commuting needs, your preferred lifestyle, and other criteria, you can pick between those neighborhoods and determine which one is right for you. Factors other than proximity and price matter here as well: for example, families are better off in areas like Park Slope and Sunnyside. It’s best to have a handful of NYC neighborhoods to sample listings from and to keep an open mind; you never know when a great value will come up.

 

 

AMENITIES

 

 NYC Amenities

 

Not all apartments, even if they’re the same size-wise, price-wise, and location-wise, are created equal. The additional extras that some apartments offer their residents are called amenities. Some very basic amenities that are taken for granted elsewhere shouldn’t be in New York City. Many of the city’s apartments are very basic and are often missing certain things you’d find in almost any other home in the world due to the spatial constraints of NYC living. Other factors that could be considered amenities are more commonly disputed. Some amenities are absolutely essential for those who need them; for example, a tenant with a pet absolutely needs a pet-friendly apartment. Others are less vital. Consider how important the following amenities are to you when you’re looking for an apartment:

 

  • Pet Friendliness

  • Laundry in building

  • Doorman

  • Dishwasher

  • Stove / Oven

  • Gym in building

  • Natural Light

  • Windows/Views

  • Balcony/Perch

  • Rooftop access

  • Heat / AC Quality

  • Elevator

  • Low Noise levels

  • Parking

  • Lawn/Backyard

 

PROXIMITY

 

NYC neighborhood Proximity 

 

An NYC apartment’s proximity to a number of places can also be considered an amenity, in a way. Keep in mind your unit’s proximity to the following when weighing the benefits of a certain apartment:

 

  • Public Transportation

  • Laundromats

  • Grocers

  • Convenience Stores

  • Restaurants

  • Parks & Outdoor Space

  • Schools

  • Gyms

  • Parking

  • Nightlife

  • Barber / Salon

  • Other Transportation

Also keep the crime rate in the neighborhood in mind.

Once you’ve figured out exactly what you want from your apartment, it’s time to make another choice: broker or no broker? Chances are, you could benefit from the hand of an experienced pro helping you throughout your apartment hunting process; but is it worth the price? Packing enough time to search for the right apartment into a crazy and hectic NYC schedule can often prove impossible. If you decide that you want to hire a broker, choosing your broker should not be taken lightly. Our friend Marty Morua, a real estate broker at the Corcoran Group,  gave us important advice on how to find a good agent and determine if that agent is right for you and your apartment search.

Read Marty’s guide, Finding an NYC Real Estate Agent You Can Trust

Want to skip the broker and handle your apartment search on your own? Check out our huge list of apartment search websites to utilize in your apartment search.

 


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