A Bit of Background...
If you’re new to New
York, you’ve undoubtedly already heard horror stories about the
apartment: some roach–infested shoebox with a view of the neighboring
building’s brick wall for enough money to feed a small country. We’re not going
to lie to you — these kinds of apartments do exist. That doesn’t, however, mean
that you have to live in one.
A lot of people want to call Manhattan home, and because demand is so
high, landlords can charge a lot of money for an apartment that might cost half
as much in a city or town with a more typical real estate market. On the other
hand, if you know in advance what to expect and where and how to look, you’re
much more likely to find an apartment and location you’re satisfied with. The
biggest disappointments of the Manhattan
rental process come from clinging to unrealistic expectations of what the
market will bear for what you have in mind. By familiarizing yourself with the
market ahead of time, you can narrow down your search to only include
neighborhoods and apartments that best match the needs of your lifestyle,
budget and taste.
Manhattan: A (Very) Brief Overview
As cliché as it may sound, New York City is truly a place of endless
possibilities. The urban island
of Manhattan teems with
renowned restaurants, architectural masterpieces and countless cultural
institutions that make it one of the world’s best–loved cities and the
country’s commercial, financial and cultural backbone.
Of the five boroughs that make up New York City, Manhattan
is actually the smallest, composed of a mere 22.7 square miles of land and only
13.4 miles long and 2.3 miles wide at its fattest point near 14th Street. However, with over one million
residents, the island — also known as New York County — proudly packs in the
most people of any county in the U.S. Bounded by the Hudson River on the west,
the East River to the east, the Harlem River to the north and the New York
Harbor to the south, Manhattan was planned as a grid system, making most areas
of the city relatively easy to navigate if you know a few basic rules (or if
you’ve got a map and a halfway decent sense of direction). The avenues run
north to south (First Avenue
being the farthest east and
Twelfth Avenue being the farthest west), while the
streets run east to west across the avenues. As you travel north, the street
numbers increase. Fifth Avenue
is the center of Manhattan
and divides the city into the East and West Sides. Therefore, there is an East 42nd Street
and a West 42nd Street.
Broadway runs diagonally across the city, from the Lower East Side to the Upper West Side, veering east of Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street, Central Park and Fifth Avenue (south of 59th Street and
north of 110th Street).
Further downtown and particularly in the West Village, the streets become a bit
more confusing as the numbered grid system dissipates, but getting acquainted
with (or hopelessly lost in) Lower Manhattan’s layout can result in some great
food — and fashion — related finds, at the very least.
Manhattan’s desirability and convenience translate into
elevated real estate prices — vacancies account for less than 10 percent of all
housing. This imbalance of supply and demand creates a competitive marketplace
that requires potential tenants to be knowledgeable about the residential
market before attempting to navigate it (which is where we hope this guide
Timing is Everything in Manhattan...
Under normal economic conditions, the Manhattan rental market
follows seasonal patterns, and you can usually save money by moving at a time
of year historically more “favorable” to renters.
Manhattan Rental Prices
During the holidays and colder seasons,
people often put off their apartment search to hibernate. The warmer months, on
the other hand, seem to bring out the nomad in people, and in the summer,
zillions of Manhattan
university students and recent grads scramble for housing, devouring inventory
and causing demand (and prices) to spike. If you’re under no pressure to move
immediately, it makes sense to plan your apartment hunt for the late fall and
winter months, as you’ll probably find the most space for the least amount of
money at these times.
Keep in mind that seasonal fluctuations vary
depending on neighborhoods, apartment sizes and service levels, and larger
economic forces may influence the market unpredictably from year–to–year or
even month–to–month. To find the best deal, don’t just depend on anticipated
seasonal patterns — monitor the Manhattan
market closely to track where rents stand in different areas of the city. Read
real estate, business and finance publications to stay on top of things, and
familiarize yourself with the various market reports published by data research
and real estate firms in the city. Most importantly, browse apartment listings
with religious devotion! Obviously, this is the best way to know how much
places are going for at any given time.
Time is Not on Your Side
Of course, many renters don’t have the luxury
of seasonally coordinating their apartment hunt. Most people begin their search
one month to 45 days before they need to move. Start looking any earlier and
the majority of the apartments you come across will list move–in dates before
your desired date of occupation. Landlords commonly designate move–in dates for
their vacant units as the 1st or 15th day of the upcoming month, so plan your
Steps to Renting
Determine Your Criteria
Broker or No
Decide on an
Sign a Lease
Get Keys and Move
Size & Space
Space is an expensive commodity in Manhattan real estate, so
it’s important to be realistic on your needs. How many people do you plan on
living with? Are you willing to share a bathroom or a bedroom? For single
renters, more space for the same price can often be obtained by joining up with
roommates, but it comes at the sacrifice of privacy. Trade–offs should be
considered, but if you don’t have a strong preference, it can be beneficial to
start you search with some flexibility or at least an open mind. Appendix A has detailed information
on apartment sizes and building types.
rentals offer a bevy of choices when it comes to amenities. From laundry and
elevators to on–site fitness centers and doormen, the city offers basic,
high–end and everything in between. Renters looking to save money should
prepare for basic amenities and consider walk–up properties. While we love
little extras as much as the next renter, for cost–conscious renters, amenities
should be considered optional in your search. The one exception we make to this
rule is regarding security issues — you can’t put a price on safety.
No other city offers more choices when it
comes to neighborhoods than New York
and they vary greatly. Even within neighborhoods, certain streets and blocks
are often more or less desirable based on their proximity to conveniences,
transportation, etc. Appendix
B gives a detailed description of some of the major Manhattan
neighborhoods, but nothing substitutes for walking around the area yourself; so
if you can, visit the areas personally.
By far, the most restricting and important
part of your criteria is your budget and you need to have a clear bottom–line
to start your search. While everyone would love to rent a SoHo
pad for $500/month, it’s probably not going to happen. Once you calculate the
amount you can afford to spend on housing each month, you can evaluate your
options. Don’t get discouraged if your budget is low!
Research the Market
Learn All About Real Estate
Like nearly everything else in life, shopping
for an apartment requires a fair amount of research. You wouldn’t buy a new car
without checking prices and viewing the models, so why rent an apartment blind?
The first thing you should do is to check out
resources like the Manhattan
Rental Market Report to get an idea of what apartments cost in your desired
neighborhoods. (Once you have these numbers in mind, you may or may not need to
re–evaluate what you are looking for.) These numbers are great for a starting
point, but if you’re really serious, it’s time to jump in and see more
specifically “what apartments are going for.”
If you are considering multiple options,
renting a studio alone or getting a two–bedroom with a roommate, don’t forget
to set up searches for all of these options. You may find that while you can’t
afford a studio in your favorite neighborhood, renting with a few friends might
Once you start looking at specific properties
and price points, you will have a better idea of the type of apartment and
amenities that will fit in your budget.
Finally, don’t overlook your friends as
potential sources of market knowledge — especially if they have been hunting
recently. Ask around to figure out what people are paying for their pads to get
a realistic gauge of the market or ask them how their search went. Just keep in
mind that depending on when they signed their lease, prices may have risen or
dropped since then.
Broker or No Broker?
Deciding to Do It Alone
The Internet and the information age have
taken the real estate market (and every other market, for that matter) by
storm. In the past, attempting to navigate the Manhattan rental market without a broker or
some sort of professional assistance was often an exercise in confusion and
frustration, to say the least. Fewer people possessed the knowledge or resources to successfully brave the Manhattan market alone,
and even fewer still had the patience. Now, with more free online classifieds,
no–fee rental sites, public real estate databases and forums hitting the Web
every day, renters are becoming incredibly savvy about the world of Manhattan
real estate. Using available free (or cheap) tools designed to provide
transparency and open access to the real estate market, you, too, have the
ability to find a great apartment without enlisting the services of a broker.
All you need is plenty of time.
Today, most Americans lead extremely hectic
lives. How much time you have left in your day after accomplishing your daily
duties at work and home will of course vary greatly depending on your present
situation, but the more time you can devote to your self–propelled apartment
search, the more likely you are to wind up with an apartment you’re happy with.
You should look at your apartment search like it’s another “job” — one that you
need to donate copious amounts of hours and energy to in order to get done
properly. If you choose to search on your own, understand that much of your
free time will be spent poring over apartment listings and coordinating
viewings. If you work full time, you’ll probably need to take time off or use
your weekends to view apartments, as you must work around the schedules of the
owners or supers showing the properties (and many prefer showing apartments
weekdays during normal work hours). You may take the time to check out 20
apartments only to find you hate everything, and become exasperated and bitter
as a result. Apartment searching may even become somewhat of an obsession — you
may find yourself itching to browse listings and frantically making phone calls
on your lunch break to set up appointments, all in hopes of not missing out on
that elusive apartment that’s “the one” (not that we know from experience, of
Keep in mind that if successful, you’ll be
handsomely rewarded with a happy home you found on your own, and you’ll also be
15 percent of your annual rent richer (since you avoided a broker fee). On the
other hand, apartment hunting in Manhattan
without a broker is far from easy, and can, in short, make you feel like
ripping your hair out. Particularly if you’re using a free online classifieds
service to search, you’re bound to at some point run into con artists and
scams; flaky, unprofessional owners who miss appointments and never return your
calls; and apartments that look like fantastic in photos, but in reality more
closely resemble accommodations at Riker’s. These things happen.
So what will you get if you decide to use a
broker? Mostly, the gift of time. Brokers know what is available, going to be
available and what apartments aren’t worth the time to look at. They will use
this information to eliminate many units that won’t meet your criteria and make
sure that you are only seeing the best properties on the market. This market
knowledge is invaluable to renters who are picky, time–strapped or not familiar
enough with Manhattan
to successfully search for themselves. Once you find an apartment you like, the
broker will also help you prepare your application package and, if necessary,
negotiate with the landlord.
You may be surprised to know that with the
exception of exclusives, Manhattan
brokers generally do not possess any special inventory of apartments that the
layman can’t access. So, your broker’s personality and working style is really
what you need to evaluate when deciding who to work with. Whether they are with
the largest or smallest company, you’ll still have access to the same great
apartments. The bottom line is, if you feel your broker doesn’t have your best
interests at heart, find someone who does.
If you’ve decided to use a broker, you won’t
spend any time at all scheduling viewings. You will simply give your broker
your available times and dates and they will take care of the rest. But if
you’re going it alone, you’ll need to be diligent and organized in seeing
multiple units. Remember, units can disappear quickly, so the sooner you see
the unit, the better.
In all likelihood, as a renter in Manhattan, you probably
have a full–time job, which eliminates the luxury of seeing apartments
mid–week. If you can take a day off of work, however, you will find that
setting up appointments during normal business hours is much easier than trying
to get into them on the weekends.
Visiting apartments in bulk is also a great
time saving technique. If you are looking at apartments that are nearby, try to
schedule the viewings back–to–back, giving yourself between 30 minutes and an
hour to see each property. The faster you can move onto the next unit, the
better. Just make sure to be thorough in your initial viewing as your first
visit may be your only visit to the unit prior to signing a lease.
Keeping track of all of your appointments is
crucial. One way to track them all is to set up a spreadsheet with the date,
time, location and contact information for each showing. If you are not
familiar with the area, you can use Google maps to set up ‘walking directions’
to and from each unit. Being on time and prepared shows landlords and agents that you are a responsible and
Don’t trust the ad...
Finally, advertising can be deceiving. No
matter what the ad says, or how nice the apartment seems in pictures, nothing
substitutes for actually visiting the unit. The unit can be great, but it might
be on the third floor of a walk–up with a Chinese restaurant downstairs. While
you may love General Tso’s chicken, you may not want to smell it 24/7. So, if you
are considering an apartment, make sure to set up an appointment to see it.
Don’t blindly sign a lease because the pictures on the website looked good.
What to Bring...
“Come prepared and leave happy” sums up the Manhattan apartment hunting
process relatively well. As we’ve said, if you find an apartment you like, you
need to jump on it immediately, and the only way to set the wheels in motion is
to have all the documents you’ll need to secure the lease on your person when
you go apartment hunting. That way, you can immediately apply and don’t have to
worry about someone getting their paperwork in before you and “stealing” your
precious, hard–earned apartment. Plus, being prepared makes you look good — the
landlord will perceive you as someone who is responsible, serious and savvy. It
is a good idea to bring the following items with you when you go on your
Essential Application Information — This includes your employer’s contact information,
the name and contact information of your bank, and the names and contact information of previous
landlords. (If you plan on using a guarantor, be sure to have their essential
information as well).
Employer Verification Letter — This letter must be prepared on company letterhead
and signed by your supervisor. It should state your position, start date,
salary and, if applicable, guaranteed bonus. It should also indicate whether or
not you are entitled to a housing allowance and if so, how much.
Bank Statements — You should be prepared with at least the last two
Tax Returns — In some instances you may be asked to show tax
returns, so it is a good idea to bring the last two years returns with you.
Photo Identification — A driver’s license, passport, or other form of
government issued photo ID will be required.
Monies — It is important to at least bring along monies to
cover the application fee(s), and, if necessary, the deposit (one month’s rent)
in order to secure the property.
Camera — A camera can come in handy to keep track of
apartments. Snapping a few shots of the interior and exterior can help you jog
your memory, especially when seeing a number of units in rapid succession.
Tape Measure — This is important if you have specific pieces of
furniture that need to fit into your new home. Be sure to come with all
measurements written down as well.
Decide on an Apartment
Picking Your New Home
Now that you’ve seen the units available, you
need to decide on an apartment. While many renters will immediately walk into a
unit and know it’s for them, others may have to weigh the pros and cons of
Here are some things to consider:
What is the best location?
Will you be comfortable commuting from there?
Will there be enough to entertain you on the weekends?
Is travel outside of the area convenient?
Is the layout of the unit functional?
Are there any major repairs necessary? Remember, dirt can be cleaned, but
repairs are more difficult to fix.
Is there enough space for all your stuff?
Is there ample natural light?
Can you comfortably afford the unit and all utilities?
File Your Application
Renting Qualifications and Costs
Once you have considered the various types of
apartments and buildings you are interested in viewing, you need to prepare the
necessary documentation and fees needed to apply for them. Getting an apartment
does not just mean giving basic information and writing a check, so it’s
important to understand what makes you qualified to rent in the city.
Income Requirements — Most landlords require tenants to make 40 to 50
times the monthly rent of the apartment as their annual salary. In most cases
this must be guaranteed income and does not include bonuses. (ex: If the
property is $2000.00 a month, you must earn $80,000.00 to $100,000.00 a year in
order to qualify to rent the property.)
Lease Guarantor — If an applicant does not meet the financial
requirements the landlord may require a Lease Guarantor. This person is
responsible for the rent if the tenant fails to pay it. They are generally
required to go through the same application process as the tenant and earn 80
to 100 times the monthly rent. Most landlords prefer a tri–state guarantor (someone
who lives in New Jersey, New
York or Connecticut)
however this will vary from landlord to landlord.
Application / Credit Check — This is typically a single document that will
provide a landlord with an applicant’s professional, financial and personal background
information required when applying to live in a property. (Credit check is only
applicable for US residents).
Application Fees — Application fees are generally due at the time of
application submission and range in price from $50–$100 (per application) for a
rental building and anywhere from $250–$1,000 for a co–op or condo building.
Required Certified Monies — One month’s rent and one month’s security is
generally required at time of lease signing. Landlords generally require these
monies in the form of two separate certified checks or money orders and do not
accept personal checks, or cash. These can be obtained at a Manhattan bank for
$10–$15. If you do not have a US
credit history or have bad credit, landlords will often request additional security.
Some landlords will allow the tenant to pay via credit card, but they may
require additional surcharges (2–3% will be added to the rent and security
Brokerage Agreements — Because tenants pay the brokerage fees in Manhattan, it is customary
to be asked to sign a fee agreement when first visiting with a broker. This
agreement simply states that you agree to pay a fee to the broker if they help
you to secure a lease on a particular property. You are not required to pay a
brokerage fee if you are unable to secure a lease with them.
Brokerage Fees — The standard brokerage fee in Manhattan is 15 percent of the annual rent
and is generally due at the time of lease signing. You are only responsible for
this fee if you secure an apartment through that broker. Fees should always be
made payable to the brokerage firm and not an individual agent. Nord-East
Realty Group Rental Division accepts major credit cards for payment of fees;
additional surcharges (2–3 percent) will be added to the brokerage fee.
Owner Paid Fees — There are
certain circumstances where a landlord may pay a portion of a fee to a broker.
According to New York
State law, the broker
must notify the person responsible for paying the fee (tenant, sponsoring
A broker will help you prepare your
application or, if you are working alone, you will be responsible for turning
in a complete application package. We recommend double–checking all
requirements and following up with the leasing organization promptly to ensure
nothing falls through the cracks. Appendix D has a list of
special circumstances to be aware of.
Negotiate & Sign Lease
Making It Yours
Until recently, negotiations were unheard of
in the Manhattan
rental market. Apartments were take–em–or–leave–em and incentives were the
stuff renters’ dreams were made of.
However, now that the market has softened,
sometimes there is a bit of wiggle room in rental deals. Your broker will be
the best resource in offering you advice on if negotiating will be possible and
how much you might be able to gain. Just remember, even in a soft market, you
can still lose an apartment. If the dollars and cents don’t add up for the
landlord, they will still walk away from a deal.
Once you agree to terms, the lease will need
to be signed by all parties — this includes the landlord, renter and, if
applicable, guarantors. All paperwork will need to be signed before you move
in, so if you are using a guarantor that is not in the area, be prepared to
quickly ship documents.
Once the lease is signed, the apartment is
If you have a broker...
Another benefit to having a broker is their
connections with other local professionals. Many brokers will be able to
provide you with recommendations for services like movers and decorators —
which can be especially helpful if you are new to the area.
Unique Apartment Types
In addition to the standard apartments
available in Manhattan,
there are several unique shapes and sizes that may be unfamiliar to you.
Studio — A one room apartment where the bedroom and living
room are in the same space. Depending on the room size, the kitchen may either
be a separate room or simply found along a wall in the same room. Studios are
sometimes known as efficiencies.
Alcove Studio — Similar to a studio in that it is composed of only
one room, but it also offers an open area adjoined to the living room space
which is typically used for sleeping. An alcove studio is sometimes known as a
junior one–bedroom or an L–shaped studio because the layout may resemble the
shape of the letter.
Flex (convertible) Two — A one bedroom apartment that has enough space,
usually in the living room, to put a temporary, also know as pressurized, wall
in order to convert the larger room into a second bedroom and smaller living
room. (Converted Apartments contain a large open space, generally the living
room, that can be converted to create an additional bedroom or dining room)
Junior 4 — A one bedroom apartment with an additional alcove
space in the living room, generally used as a dining room, or converted into a
Classic 6 — Specific to a prewar building, this is an apartment
with six rooms: a living room, a formal dining room, a kitchen, plus two full
sized bedrooms, and a small third bedroom, typically referred to as the maid’s
room. (Classic 7s and 8s are also available, and provide one or two additional
full sized bedrooms).
Furnished Apartment — Generally rented as a short–term rental, (less than
one year, can be as little as one week) these apartments contain all the
furniture, kitchenware, and bathroom accoutrements one would need to live.
There are three basic types of buildings in Manhattan: 24 Hour
Doorman / Elevator Attended, Elevator / Lift (unattended), and Walk–Up
Doorman Building — These buildings tend to be larger buildings, such
as high–rises, with the highest level of security. They also offer the highest
level of convenience and comfort because someone is there to take/hold your
packages, dry cleaning, scheduled drop–offs, or anything else you might need
while you are out. (If you are new to Manhattan,
delivery is a way of life on the island. Also, you should consider that mail
and packages will not be left without a signature – another benefit of the
dooman building.) There are three types of Doorman Buildings: luxury high–rise,
standard, and part–time doorman.
Luxury High–Rise — These buildings have more than one doorman, usually
a full staff of attendants, and offer concierge–like (hotel) services. Top
amenities, such as a private health club, pool, sun deck, children’s playroom,
laundry facilities, etc, are generally available, but will vary with each
Standard Doorman — These buildings have someone on duty 24 hours a day
and will provide the security, and convenience of a doorman, but they do not
offer added amenity services.
Part–Time Doorman — These buildings typically have a doorman for the
day shift but rely on security cameras or some form of high–tech security
system at night.
Elevator Building — These buildings do not have a doorman on duty,
although some may have an elevator attendant. These buildings are considered
somewhere in between a doorman building and a walk–up with respect to quality,
comfort and security. They often have laundry in the building and a security
system such as an intercom. These buildings are typically more moderately
priced and are not as expensive as a doorman building, but not as inexpensive
as a typical walk–up.
Walk–Up Building — These buildings do not have a doorman or elevator.
They can be brownstones or townhouses (4–5 stories), above storefronts
(generally one or two stories), or low–rise buildings (free standing 4–5
stories). They are the most affordable living accommodation in the city;
however, as a result they have minimal amenities. Most walk–up buildings have
double door security and some have more elaborate systems, such as intercoms
Note: The quality of the building with
respect to Elevator and Walk–Ups can vary drastically depending on how well the
property is maintained by the owner, and each situation should be judged on its
The physical architecture of the buildings
types described above can vary and knowing what to expect of these properties
will help you narrow your search. They can generally be categorized as one of
Brownstone, Townhouse, or Mansion — Most date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s
and were originally built as single family homes. While the single family home
still exists (ranging from three to five stories), many have since been
converted into several apartments per building. Largely considered the historic
gems of Manhattan,
these apartments are known for their architectural character and offer an
alternative to a standard high–rise or modern apartment. They typically have
plank hardwood floors, high ceilings with exposed beams, crown moldings, and
working or decorative fireplaces.
Loft Building — Except for new construction, these properties were
at one time commercial spaces that have been converted for residential living
and can range from 5 to 20 stories tall. The homes inside are typically large,
open spaces and can vary in their degree of architectural character. Many lofts
are intentionally left raw with their freight elevators in tact, and original
columns left in place, allowing the renter to convert the empty space into open
living areas. Increasingly, renovated or newly constructed lofts are available
that offer the same high–end amenities (gym, concierge, laundry, roof garden,
residents lounge, etc.) found in a luxury high–rise.
Prewar Building — These are
representative of any building built prior to World War II. These buildings are
often characterized by their elaborate architecture and extensive detail. They
typically feature high ceilings, hardwood floors, and decorative elements such
as fireplaces, and original details. It is quite common to find these
properties to have a 24 hour doorman or elevator operator service.
Postwar Building — These are
representative of any building built post World War II. Known for their simple
design and well divided units, they offer a more modern living space than the
typical prewar building. These buildings usually have laundry facilities in the
basement of the older buildings, or on each floor in newer buildings. Doorman
services vary from building to building.
High–Rise — Refers to any building that stands 20 stories or
more and was typically built in the latter part of the 20th century. These
buildings tend to offer standard shaped apartments, known as cookie cutters,
and vary in the level of services and luxury.
Low–Rise — Refers to
any building that is less than 20 stories high but they are typically 4 – 12.
These buildings may also have standard shaped apartments, and are usually
walk–up or elevator buildings. Most have laundry in the building and feature
video intercom systems.
There are three types of building ownership
in Manhattan and they each vary with respect to the requirements and approval
process one would need to go through in order to live in that property. They
range in difficulty from rentals, being the easiest, to co–ops, which are
notoriously the most difficult.
Rental Buildings — A single landlord owns the entire building and the
real estate laws determine whether the specific unit is rent stabilized or
non–rent stabilized. Landlords generally require the standard paperwork
(discussed later), a credit check and request one month’s rent and one month’s
security deposit upon lease approval. The approval process can take anywhere
from one day to one week but is usually no more than that.
Condominiums (Condo) — Each unit is individually owned and is used as a
personal residence or can be rented out as an investment property. Subject to
the regulations of the condo board (governing body for the building made up of
individual owners), owners are able to determine their own rental price and
lease length. Owners will generally require from an applicant the standard
paperwork plus whatever additional information they feel necessary for
approval. In addition, applicants must also submit whatever necessary paperwork
the board may ask for as the owner of the property is required to disclose any
potential renters. However, unlike a co–op, the board does not have the right
to turn down an applicant that an owner is willing to rent to. Tenants are generally
required to pay application and / or board and move–in fees (as well as
additional Security if required) and the approval process could take anywhere
from one week to one month.
Co–operatives (Co–op) — As in a condo, each unit is individually owned; however,
individuals actually own shares in the building based on their apartment’s size
and value, and not the deed to the property as one would in a condo. They tend
to have the most stringent rules and regulations with respect to rentals. The co–op board generally
requires extensive financial and personal information in addition to the
standard paperwork. Prospective tenants must also undergo an extensive
interview with the building’s co–op board. Tenants are generally required to
pay large application, board, and move–in fees as well as extra security.
Co–ops can often be problematic for international clients or new hires without
an established credit history. The approval process generally takes around one
month or more.
Manhattan’s streets are based on a grid system. The avenues run
north to south (First Avenue
being the farthest east and
Twelfth Avenue being the farthest west), while the
streets run east to west across the avenues. As you travel north, the street
numbers increase. Fifth Avenue
is the center of Manhattan
and divides the city into the East and West Sides; therefore, there is an East 42nd Street
and a West 42nd Street.
Broadway runs diagonally across the city from the Lower East Side to the Upper West Side, veering east of Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street, Central Park and Fifth Avenue (south of 59th Street and
north of 110th Street).
Visit our Manhattan Neighborhood
Guide to learn more about each of the neighborhoods that make up this
But Don’t Forget To Check Them Out For
We can tell you about Manhattan’s neighborhoods ‘til we’re blue in
the face, but you won’t really figure out which one you want to live in until
you go visit them in person. After researching the city’s neighborhoods and
narrowing down a few possibilities based on price, location and vibe, set aside
time (assuming you have some) to walk around the different areas to get a real
feel for what they’re about. Take in the scene, both during the day and maybe
more importantly, at night, to make sure you can picture comfortably immersing
yourself in the community.
Talking to people who live in the area is
another great way to learn about your surroundings and possible future home.
Despite their reputation for notoriously surly and anti–social behavior with
strangers, New Yorkers are in fact human, which means they, too, like to talk
about themselves and their lives when given the opportunity. When you find an
apartment you like, before you make a decision, chat it up with some would–be
neighbors who live in the building. It’s usually pretty easy to tell when
people are happy with their accommodations, and if you ask them “Do you like
living here?” you’ll find that most apartment dwellers will be frank.
There are some circumstances that may require
additional preparation when renting an apartment in New York City that you should be aware of.
Roommates - Landlords often will not take any more than two
names on a lease. Roommates are held jointly responsible for rent and brokerage
fees. Additionally, roommates are held responsible for any other roommate's
unpaid rent. We encourage you to create a written agreement amongst all parties
involved, binding each individual to the terms of the lease and to the fee. The
combined income of the roommates will often be considered with respect to
financial requirements; however, this is landlord specific and you should
advise your agent ahead of time if this is how you plan to qualify for an
apartment. In addition, landlords may require a guarantor regardless of whether
or not the combined income meets the financial requirements and you should
discuss this in advance.
Walls — Often,
finding a true two–bedroom on a limited budget can be difficult. Another
alternative is to find a one–bedroom that can be converted into two by
installing a temporary wall. There are several reputable vendors in Manhattan that will
deliver and install a wall for a fee. However, not all landlords will allow
these shares and you should notify your agent if you are interested in doing
so. You are often responsible for taking down the wall at the end of your
International Tenant — If you pay taxes outside of the United States,
or if you have a housing allowance from your employer, your eligibility is
evaluated differently. You should consult your relocation supervisor or broker
to determine a budget. Without a US rental history, many
international transferees are required to pay additional security. In addition,
some landlords may require as much as 6 months to one year of rent to be paid
in advance depending on the circumstances.
Pets — Man’s best friend can unfortunately prove to be his
worst enemy when it comes to finding an apartment in Manhattan, particularly those pets that are
over 20 lbs. Most landlords in New
York City do not accept dogs and if they do, they
generally prefer them to resemble cats in size. Cats and other domestic pets
can also limit your inventory and you should advise your agent of any pets you
may have or plan on getting in the future.
Whether you are renting your first apartment in New York City or your
fifth, the process to obtaining a home to call your own is not easy. This guide
has been created to assist you as you search for and secure your new apartment.
Please use this guide to help you in your
preparation and search. Remember, the more you know now and the better you are
prepared, the greater the advantage you will have later.
If we can be of any assistance to you, please
don’t hesitate to contact us at (718)234-9617 or email us at
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