“A hundred times have I thought New York is a catastrophe, and fifty times: It is a beautiful catastrophe.” – Le Corbusier
One of the more stressful and seemingly unfulfilling hurdles all New Yorkers have to face is that of finding an apartment in this overpopulated jungle. It is one of the few times in our lives as strong, confident humans that we feel completely helpless. Use these TripleMint tips to help you navigate this wilderness that we chose:
1. Don’t base your decision solely on pictures.
Visit in person! Don’t get stuck with an apartment that looks “cozy” in pictures, but in person makes you self-diagnose as claustrophobic – a very inconvenient diagnosis for New Yorkers indeed. It might not be a bad idea to approach apartments the same way we approach clothes or shoes: you love it most when you try it on in the store. If you’re unsure about it at the time of purchase, you probably won’t wear it later.
2. Remove your tunnel vision.
Remember that you’re looking for a home, not just an apartment. That includes the surrounding neighborhood. Before committing to an apartment, ask yourself “Can I see myself living here for the next 12 months?” Is it close enough to the subway? Are you comfortable walking alone at night? If you feel uncomfortable, look for other options in a place you’ll look forward to going home to every day.
3. Don’t get attached to what decorates the apartment.
Don’t fall in love with the furnishings or accessories (fixtures). Rent is higher in furnished apartments and there are cheap ways to rent furniture, especially if you don’t want to haul your current furniture to your next rental.
4. Never ignore the details.
Ignorance is not always bliss. Again, know what you’re getting into. Are there additional monthly costs for things like utilities? Is there a working smoke/carbon dioxide alarm? What is the water pressure like?
5. Don’t sign the lease without reading it.
The biggest lie is probably “I have read the Terms & Conditions.” READ THE LEASE BEFORE YOU SIGN. I know, I know, trying to find an apartment was exhausting and you just want to be done with it. You’re so close and all you have to do is sign your name on the dotted line. But if you want to save yourself a lot of pain in the future, make sure you’re aware of what you’re agreeing to before you actually agree to it, especially if the landlord seems to be unusually pushy. Also make sure to have all of the necessary documents when you’re ready to commit.
Imagine that a random stranger walked up to you in the streets of NYC and said “hey want to sign this paper that will affect you for the next 12 months without reading it so you can’t argue with me if you get screwed over later?” The natural response – hopefully – is no. Read the fine print.
6. Don’t commit before knowing how much money you have to put down up front.
There are many hidden fees that pile up when you first rent an apartment (see them here). You may be able to afford the monthly rent, but you’ll need a lot more money to get started in your new apartment.
7. Don’t turn a blind eye to pre-existing damage.
Anyone with siblings has a greater than necessary understanding of how frustrating it is to get blamed for something you didn’t do. Don’t lose your security deposit because of the previous tenant’s mistakes. Do a thorough walkthrough, ideally with the landlord, to document damages with time-stamped photos. While many tenant-landlord arguments are he-said-she-said, hard evidence is indisputable.
There is so much that goes into searching for and committing to your next home – whatever length of time that may be – but there are mistakes that you can definitely avoid to save yourself a lot of trouble in the future.