New York City NYC Moving Guide

How to Find an Apartment in NYC: Tips & Average Rents

Ariel view of New York City

Searching for New York apartments are tough. It becomes even more difficult when you're a first-time renter. But whether it's your first apartment, or your third, one thing that can be agreed upon is that your apartment search in NYC is like no other. Units move quick, and you need to be ready when the right apartment strikes.

To help you get started, we put together how to find an apartment, along with the average rent for some of the best neighborhoods in the city.

How to Find an Apartment in NYC

Start Planning

With hundreds of new rentals going up on the market a week, it's important to narrow your search down as to not stress yourself during the process. As New York rentals increase in popularity, there's tons of websites that can help you figure out the right area you'd want to reside in. Some popular websites to check out when you're looking for apartments include:

Be Prepared for Every Showing

One of the biggest tips for renting an apartment in NYC is to be prepared. As soon as a new apartment goes up on the market, you and probably 10 other people are gunning for it. Nothing is more heartbreaking when you tour an apartment and submit your application, just to find out someone else who was more prepared beat you out. Don't let that be the case. Many websites allow you to sign up for notifications when a new apartment gets listed in an area you may be interested in. This allows you to be one of the first to check it out before the masses do.

You'll also want to come prepared with paperwork. Landlords like to move quick so coming prepared with things like your credit report, last 3 months of your paystubs, a copy of your license or passport, and even a letter of recommendation from your current landlord can all impact how quickly a rental goes from on the market, to your new home.

Working with a Broker to Find an Apartment in NYC

It may get to the point where you can't avoid working with a broker. New York might be the most populous city in the nation, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy place to find the perfect apartment. In fact, demand tends to be high, while supply is routinely low. With the vacancy rate hovering under 5 percent, it may be helpful to work with a broker to streamline your apartment hunt, especially if you're new to the city.

Make sure to team up with a broker who doesn’t just tell you what you want to hear. Some brokers can be quick to push you into any apartment. Others can purposely show you apartments outside your criteria as a way to poorly encourage you to increase your budget. Do your research on the broker you decide to work with. They could easily make or break your apartment search.

Even if you don’t necessarily want to work with an agent, however, you might find yourself negotiating with one anyway. That’s because most landlords hire agents to handle renters, which means you’ll often pay a broker’s fee when you rent an apartment. Before you decide on an apartment, be sure that you understand whether the cost includes a broker’s fee. The fee can add up to 15 percent of the annual cost of the lease, this is an important factor in your overall budget.

Finding a Rent-Stabilized Apartment

If you’re lucky, you might have the opportunity to move into a rent-stabilized apartment. While these are relatively common, they disappear from the market quickly, and you may need to fulfill very strict qualifications in order to live in these units.

Finding a vacant rent-controlled apartment isn’t always easy. You can start your search by browsing the New York City Rent Guidelines Board list of buildings that contain rent-stabilized units. You can also narrow your search to buildings constructed between 1947 and 1974 or apartments in more heavily rent-stabilized neighborhoods like Washington Heights, Manhattan, or Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

No matter where you find them, they’re some of the most affordable apartments in the city. Since landlords can only increase the rent by a small percentage from year to year, these units are guaranteed to remain affordable.

Rows of buildings in NYC

Image via Shutterstock

Average Apartment Rent in NYC: NYC Neighborhoods

New York City has long had one of the priciest rental markets in the nation, but sometimes it’s worth spending a little more to live in the neighborhood you want. Since the city’s most expensive neighborhoods tend to be near the best nightlife and dining scenes, you’ll be right in the middle of the action.

As of November 2018, the average apartment rental in NYC is $4,041. As any New Yorker knows, however, the neighborhood will greatly impact what you're going to pay.

Downtown Manhattan

In well-connected and centrally located neighborhoods like NoMad, the Flatiron District, or Tribeca, a studio apartment costs an average of $4,500 per month.

Set your sights on studios in the high-rise buildings of Battery Park or on the bohemian dwellings of the West Village or Greenwich Village if you’re willing to pay an average of $4,000 per month.

Upper West Side

A little further uptown on the upper west side, you’ll pay an average of $3,600 per month for a one-bedroom brownstone amidst parks and green spaces. The upper west side also provides a more residential environment compared to the hustle and bustle of downtown Manhattan.

Brooklyn’s Best Neighborhoods

Across the East River, several Brooklyn neighborhoods boast similar price ranges. One-bedroom apartments in waterfront neighborhoods like DUMBO and Vinegar Hill cost an average of $3,400 per month, while units in nearby Williamsburg cost about $3,300 per month.

These neighborhoods might not be in Manhattan, but they’re packed with cultural offerings, restaurants, and nightlife, and they offer convenient transit access to the rest of NYC. And while these apartments may fall along the same price range while being a bit further from the city, you're likely to get a bit more living space as a result.

If you’re working with a smaller budget, you’ll have plenty more neighborhoods to explore in NYC’s five boroughs.

Harlem

In Harlem, the average for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,660. In East Harlem, you'll pay a little less at $2,362 for the same one-bedroom apartment.

Washington Heights

Head north of Harlem to Washington Heights, and you’ll find two-bedroom apartments for around $2,600 per month, along with quieter streets, enviable green spaces, and great restaurants.

Brooklyn Neighborhoods

In Brooklyn, you’ll also find numerous affordable neighborhoods. Live in a two-bedroom apartment in Bushwick or Bedford-Stuyvesant for $2,100 per month, and you’ll be next door to popular Williamsburg and amidst art galleries, dive bars, and warehouses-turned-lofts. Head south to Flatbush, and you could pay $1,917 per month to live in a one-bedroom brownstone near leafy Prospect Park and numerous corner cafés.

Queens Neighborhoods

In Queens, take a look at affordable neighborhoods like Woodside and Astoria, where average leases for two-bedroom apartments cost $2,000 per month. Along with the relatively low rent, living here gives you the opportunity to settle down in one of NYC’s hottest up-and-coming areas. Not only will you find easy transit access to the rest of NYC here, but you’ll also live in one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods.

Space-Saving Idea for New York Apartments

Keep in mind that no matter where you live in NYC, apartments are notoriously small. If you can’t comfortably fit all of your furniture and boxes into the apartment of your dreams, consider renting a storage unit. With this extra space at your fingertips, you can keep all of your favorite things without creating clutter in your new home.

Whether you’re a longtime NYC resident or you’re planning your first move to the Big Apple, you don’t have to go it alone. Now that you have a better understanding on how to find an apartment in NYC, follow these tips for moving to New York City to make your relocation as painless as possible.

The Storage Queens

The Storage Queens

We know a thing or two about moving. Together, we share the best tips in organizing, storage, navigating your city, and more!
The Storage Queens

About the author

The Storage Queens

We know a thing or two about moving. Together, we share the best tips in organizing, storage, navigating your city, and more!

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