In my 13 years of New York City residence, I’ve moved a lot. Mostly close to the first time I moved here in the summer of 2003 for college at Parsons. I moved away for grad school in 2007, then back in 2009, racking up a total of 10 in-town moves and two moves to NYC from out of state. I learned something new during every one. Here I will share some tips I’ve learned that help make searching for and moving into a new apartment as pain-free as possible (or at least below a tolerable threshold 🙃). Although I’m biased towards living alone or with a partner, these tips can apply to those spearheading a search with roommates already in mind.
3-12 Months Before Your Move: Research
Do research on the types of apartments you’re looking for well in advance of your move-in date. As you browse listings online, don’t get too specific at first, but bookmark/save the listings you like, and try to find common threads in your taste. Be open minded about geography/neighborhood, and type of apartment. It’s just as important to notice what turns you off to a place as it is its attractive qualities. Keep an open mind because photos can make a place look dark or unappealing, and usually the glossier the photos, the more overhead you will pay.
You can find apartment listings on aggregator sites like StreetEasy, Craigslist, Apartments.com, The New York Times, and Trulia, many of which can be set up to send you notifications when apartments matching your search criteria show up. You can also look for apartments at major real estate brokerage firm sites like Citi Habitats, Halstead Property, Corcoran, Triplemint, Douglas Elliman, Compass, etc.
Take stock of your research-informed priorities, and write them down. Look slightly outside your budget, which can help you characterize the current market and spot a good deal when it shows up in your price range. All members of your household should be involved in this research phase, so everyone’s priorities can be considered when narrowing your search. Also discuss what features are low priority, because these can be used as tradeoffs to get what you really want out of an apartment.