One of the most arduous tasks I have undertaken to date, has been the task of finding my new home in the City that Never Sleeps. It’s a process that has taken me well over eight weeks to successfully complete that task, and even still I haven’t signed the contract yet to officially state my intentions to move in. If you are looking to move to the area, and are wondering what to expect then keep reading. I’ll be sharing my experiences in the process, from what was successful to what wasn’t.
My first word of advice to the city newcomer, whatever time table you think you have, expect it to take at least twice the amount of time you’ve allocated. Honestly, I think the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones was less cut throat then trying to find an apartment in Manhattan. If you think that you’ve got time to make a decision after you view an apartment, you’re damned wrong. Unless you leave a deposit that day, there’s a real good chance that sucker is going to be gone in twenty-four hours. Be ready to write a check the day of if you really like a place, but be careful, being ready to write a check, and jumping on the first place you look at are two very different things. You’re going to have to live in it for at least 6 months, if not a year in most cases. Make sure you really like the area.
Second, and this comes from a someone I know. Don’t schedule appointments for apartments right away. If you have the opportunity to do so, go visit the locations, visit the areas in and around the boroughs. There’s a lot of different neighborhoods to chose from, each with their own pros and cons. I did not heed this persons advice, and I thoroughly regretted it, as I wasted countless hours looking at apartments I would never ever consider living in based on its location. All of this said, there will come a time when you are ready to look at apartments, and with this piece of advice comes my next piece. Schedule as many viewings as possible in a single day. One of my biggest problems, and failures in this process was the fact that often times I was seeing one apartment, after work each day. This adds unnecessary turn over time to finding a place. Do your best to work with the people whose apartments you are viewing to find a common time that works for multiple. You’ll thank yourself later.
Third, if you have a group of people you are going in on a place with, or you are making well over six figures in your fancy new job; fantastic, you can actually skip over this one as it doesn’t apply to you. For those of you like myself, whom all of their existing friends either live in the city already and are stuck in leases, or have friends that weren’t looking to move and make less than six figures; be ready to live with random roommates. Websites like Spareroom.com and Roomi will be your best friend in this endeavor. I will also say in the case of Spareroom, the paid account is worth it. All of the listings are front ended with a turn over time, before it’s open season. On spareroom they will display Early Bird on the bottom right corner of these listings. You will not be able to message them for Seven days unless you have a paid account. For this alone it’s worth it, as the apartment I placed a deposit on was actually an early bird listing. Now before I move on to my final suggestion, there is the statement I made earlier about the fact that you will be living with random people. I was lucky, when I went to look one of the new tenants was actually just leaving so I had the opportunity to meet him. One of the major benefits to Spareroom is often times it’s the existing roommates trying to find someone to fill the empty space, this means you’ll have the opportunity to “try them out” and see if they’d mesh with you. You don’t have to be best friends, but remember you will be living with them for the next six months to a year.
Now, for the final suggestion, AVOID! AVOID! AVOID! Brokers and real estate companies unless you are truly desperate. Real estate companies are a pain in the a$$ if i’m being honest. One thing if you are using Spareroom that you will have to look for is companies that are listing their spaces. Now if you’re ready for a lot of garbage treatment, and are prepared to deal with that feel free to contact these companies. I will tell you my experiences with them were less than appealing though. First, they only deal in text messaging, not once did any of them ever call me to speak to me about the places I was inquiring on. Further, twice I’d made the trip to the city to see spaces on Metro North Railroad, only to have the companies cancel on me within an hour of the scheduled viewing time. Be ready to waste your time if dealing with these groups. Now in the case of brokers, these people at least show up, but the fees are astronomical, and in my experience they often showed places with absurd requirements in order to move in, one particularly ridiculous one being a required two months ago’s rent, last months rent, this month, and a deposit in order to move in. For reference, I would have cleaned out my savings on that one in its entirety. Unless you are truly desperate I do recommend avoiding both of these situations.
However, all of these things said have fun with it, and try to have patience. Don’t jump on the first place that comes up necessarily. It’s a mistake I nearly made 8 weeks ago, when I jumped on the possibility of living in a place that I honestly don’t think I would have been happy in. Remember that you’re looking for your home for the foreseeable future, you want to not only be comfortable in your home, but in the neighborhood you live in too. You’ll know when the time is right, just don’t let yourself rush it if you don’t have to.
That’s it for this week, Until next time…