Moving to New York doesn’t have to involve couch surfing, Craigslist scams, or shoebox apartments. 

Avoid these rookie mistakes by starting your search right with Triplemint. We’re dedicated to making the real estate process smarter, simpler, and more cost-efficient, from searching to deciding, signing, and moving.

Here is what you need to know when finding your first NYC apartment.

1. When Should I Start Looking?

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The ideal time to start your search is 30–45 days before your move, but you can start researching neighborhoods and your search criteria 2-3 months out.

Narrow down your search criteria, then start viewing apartments four weeks before your move. This gives you three weeks to find a place and one week for the landlord to paint and clean the unit before you move in.

2. How Do I Decide?

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Focusing your search on a neighborhood or two will help, but also consider other factors like cost, distance to subway stations, your commute to work, noise pollution, apartment feel, and even proximity to laundry (is it in your apartment, in your building, or down the street?) Additional questions to consider include:

  • Do you want a building with a doorman?
  • What amenities are nearby, like supermarkets, cinemas, gyms, bars, and restaurants?
  • Do you want a walk-up building or an elevator building?
  • How much storage space do you need?
  • What utilities are included in the rent?

3. What’s the Difference Between Fee and No Fee Apartments?

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When moving to New York and looking for your first apartment, you’ll see apartments listed as “no fee” or “fee”.

A no fee apartment usually means that the management company or landlord is paying the broker’s fee.

A fee apartment requires the renter to pay the broker’s fee directly to the broker. This could range from 10-15% of the annual rent.

While some first-time renters might shy away from paying a broker’s fee, it does save you money in the long run. Many no fee rental apartments are in luxury or semi-luxury buildings where the cost of the fee is filtered into a higher monthly rent.

Figure out what you’re willing to spend and talk to Triplemint’s dedicated member experience team on (212) 235-1123 to figure out what works for you.

4. How Much Can I Afford?

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Most landlords in NYC require that applicants make 40x the monthly rent in order to qualify for an apartment.

For example, if your rent is $2,000, you need to make at least $80,000 to qualify.

Only base salaries and guaranteed bonuses (in writing) count toward the 40x requirement. If you do not meet the income standard, you can use a guarantor or a co-sign service like Insurent, or pay a supplementary security deposit. It all depends on the landlord.

5. What is a Guarantor?

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A guarantor is a person (usually an older relative or friend) who acts as a co-signer on a lease.

Landlords in NYC require that applicants have a good U.S. credit score and meet a minimum income requirement of 80x the monthly rent. People who do not meet these standards can have a guarantor co-sign on their lease.

6. What is the Cost of Moving In?

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When moving in, you should expect to pay your first month’s rent, a one month security deposit, and a broker fee equal to between one month and 15 percent of the annual rent (depending on the type of apartment).

We recommend having about four months’ of rent in your checking account to ensure you are able to present certified bank checks at a lease signing.

You’ll also be hit with expenses for movers, furniture, household goods, cleaning, and other services. Utilize our curated concierge services to find discounts and preferred pricing on a range of services.

7. What Documents Do I Need?

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In order to get the best apartment, you’ll want to be prepared to submit your application as fast as possible. It’s important to have all required documents ready and on hand.

Landlords typically want to see:

  • Photo ID
  • Bank statements from the past two months
  • Three recent pay stubs
  • Tax returns from the last two years
  • A letter from your employer on company letterhead stating salary, position, and length of employment (should be less than 30 days old)
  • Letter of reference from previous landlord

If you’re using a guarantor, they will be asked to provide the same documentation. It is best to gather as much of this information as you can prior to the start of your search.

8. How Long Does it Take to Get a Lease Approved?

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The approval process takes anywhere from one to ten days, depending on the applicant and the landlord. Renters prepared with all of their paperwork and any guarantor paperwork will get approved much more quickly than those waiting on certain documents.

Some progressive landlords have an online application and approval process, which can approve an applicant within a few hours. Other more traditional landlords take several days to run a credit check and prepare a lease.

For those applying for a condo or co-op apartment, the approval process can vary so check with your dedicated Triplemint agent to ensure you have accurate expectations.

So What Are My Next Steps?…

Sign up today and our dedicated client experience team will get you started.

Have any questions or just want to chat about your options? Call our client experience team at (212) 235-1123.