How to Find Your First Apartment in NYC

Please make this easy on yourself

So you are thinking about moving to New York City? Good luck, I wish you the best. It is hard but if you are prepared and decisive you will save your self time and money. I have been a real estate agent for approaching 10 years but I started as a civilian. There are a few very simple steps to follow that you need to abide by to save your sanity. Don't read the times, don't read, just follow this simple list. May your first rental search not send you to another city.

A few simple tips

  • Know your budget: Math is simple. Have 3-5 months rent and look for something under 40X the monthly rent of your yearly income. If you have your first job, they might ask you for a cosigner or extra deposits. Don't look for what you can't afford and be willing to take a cheaper less prime apartment, you will NEED to save money because it goes quick in the city. 

  • Know yourself, know your situation: Don't be afraid of a sublet. Decide your top 3 features you must have. Be happy finding 1.5. If you need a studio in Gramercy or a 3 bed on the Upper East, ONLY LOOK FOR THOSE APARTMENTS. Please don't waste your time or my fellow summer sweaty rental agents. Remember that this could be temporary and once you move in you will know better and can figure out the next move. Once you're in the city, the following apartments are much easier. 

  • Get your paperwork settled: Prove that you are a good tenant. Use anything and everything to tell that story. That means proof of income, credit and cute pictures of your dog being a good citizen. Click here for my official list of formal paperwork

  • Take 1-2 days to find your apartment: Put everything else down and find an apartment. DO NOT spend 3-4 weeks looking. Take 1, 2, or maybe 3 days to find an apartment and get it done. Make it your focus. Inventory changes all the time, but it will 100% be 2 the same half dozen or something like that. 

  • Talk to your friends: They live here, people move, people break up, ect. Living at a temporary spot is the way to go sometimes. Use local groups on Facebook or letters like Stephanie Diamond's Listing project. You might find some creepy roommates in the sketchiest area or you could make life long friends. Either way you will have a good story. 

  • Use a Broker: Hands down, paying a fee or using a broker is totally worth it IF YOU STAY FOR MORE THAN A YEAR. Don't be scared off by the initial up front cost, if you get a good apartment it will be money well spent. You can always use me :)

  • Please don't get scammed: Make sure your are renting from the broker, lease holder, or owner of the apartment. I have had several friends get scammed by a sublet or an airbnb holder doubling as the owner. That's why craigslist has that disclaimer. Wire fraud is real.

  • The best apartments go fast and often don't have pictures: The fast pace nature of New York City real estate is what makes it stressful. Should I take it? Can I get a better price? Are there 15 other people thinking the same thing? The answer is probably yes to all of them. Look for the apartments posted within the last 72 hours, they generally are still available ready to make a deal. If you use sites like, owners who don't care to post photos often have a gem and a lazy millennial won't take the time to look at an apartment with out pictures. I have found some of the best apartments from one sentence descriptions with no pictures. Some of my favorite landlords only use landlines and have never used the internet. 

  • Google Alerts: You are busy, have the internet work for you. Google alerts are a great way to comb the internet and have the highlights delivered to your inbox. I use this all the time to find new listings as a broker. It's my little secret. 

If you need any help please hit me up on social media @marcusamadeus or email me, I am here to help. Share this with friends or family who might be overwhelmed with the prospect of moving. 

Here is a list of the best websites to find apartments in the city. Many people who are not using brokers just list on one.