How to find the perfect apartment in New York

Creating a fool-proof itinerary will help you get off to a good start

It’s always exciting when you’re relocating your life, moving to a new city, and beginning the start of the next chapter. Sometimes it’s a permanent move for the foreseeable future, perhaps due to an exciting new work opportunity or to live closer to family. It may also be a temporary shift, for business or for travel. When it comes to seeing the world, the current trend is moving more towards longer-term, slower travel experiences. Many people are choosing to settle themselves in one place for weeks or even months, which will allow them to properly explore the area and also have a hub which enables them to work if they’re location independent.

Whether you’re here for a few months or a few years, New York is an incredible place to live, and the amenities and infrastructure make for a superb base for a long-term base for slow travel lovers. There’s enough to see and do here to keep you busy for a lifetime. Of course, you’ll want to check out all the major sights, like the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and all the museums. But when you’re living here, it’s important that you have a good time as a resident as well as a tourist. Luckily, your options for entertainment are endless, with all the restaurants, bars, and shops you could ever wish for. You’ll be able to enjoy Broadway shows and nights out at world-class jazz clubs, as well as picnics by the river and shopping in local farmers’ markets at the weekends.

All the ingredients for an enviable lifestyle are right here for the taking. All you need to do is find that perfect apartment!

The famous Statue of Liberty

What to consider when deciding where to stay

Budgeting

It’s super important to think about your monthly budget as this will determine both the location, and type of property you can afford. Some areas are more expensive than others, so make sure you do your due diligence before paying that deposit. The city does have a bit of a reputation for tiny, expensive apartments, but if you are flexible on where you want to be based and are willing to whittle down the must-haves on your tick list, you’ll be sure to find something suitable. New York is the sort of city where you don’t need your own vehicle (and indeed finding somewhere to park it could be difficult), so you’ll be able to make a saving there!

Transport options

If you have a job in the city that requires a daily commute, make sure you consider renting an apartment near a subway, bus stop, or even the tramway, depending on your office location. New York is a surprisingly easy city to travel around, but you don’t want a half-hour walk each morning just to catch the bus. The average commute in NYC is 36 minutes so do temper your expectations accordingly.

Visit before you move

It isn’t always possible, but if you can, do travel to your intended neighbourhood and check it out in person before signing on the dotted line. It can be difficult to get a feel for a new place without setting foot there yourself, and it will settle some of those butterflies that have be flitting around in your stomach too. New York has so many great neighbourhoods that choosing one without seeing it first can seem like an impossible task. So if possible, spend a bit of time exploring on the ground, to help you narrow down your choices.

New York Public Library

How to search for your perfect apartment

It can feel quite overwhelming when you’re faced with the task of finding an apartment that ticks all the right boxes. This is especially tough when you don’t even live in the area that you’re relocating to, or visiting, so it’s important that you find a trustworthy source of information to point you in the right direction.

The best place to start is with an online apartment search engine like Zumper, which will help you narrow down your search in a flash. You can filter your options by the number of bedrooms and bathrooms required, if the owner will allow you to have pets onsite, and whether you’re looking for long- or short-term lets. The search engine also lets you select properties that include utilities which is helpful if you prefer to simplify your monthly outgoings. If you know which neighbourhood you’d like to stay in, there’s a filter for that too. And it’s not just apartments. There are houses, condos, and individual rooms up for grabs too, and availability is real-time so there’s no risk of being disappointed if someone else has pipped you to the post. Can’t find the property of your dreams? Then just set up an alert so you’re the first to know when that star apartment is listed.

One of the best features is being able to apply online, which takes the hassle out of the process. Especially if you’re currently living overseas! You can submit a digital application and credit checks with a trusted screening service, so you don’t need to worry about your personal details being secure.

New York tenement apartment buildings

New York’s best neighbourhoods

New York is a real treasure trove when it comes to deciding which neighbourhood to base yourself in. If you’re commuting, you obviously need to factor in access to transport. Yet if you’re a digital nomad and will be working from home, or that cute café down the street, then the city really is your oyster. Here are a few of the top residential districts to consider, each with their own individual personality:

Lower East Side

This buzzing district is one for the history lovers as it was here where immigrants first arrived from Europe back in the 19th century. There are plenty of heritage tenement buildings lining the streets in this bohemian neighbourhood, so you’ll really feel like you’re sleeping in the past. The place comes alive in the evenings and at weekends with lots of entertainments options, hip bars, and plenty of galleries. There are several subway lines available too, with easy access to the nearby districts of Chinatown, Soho, and Brooklyn, making this a superb base.

Brooklyn

Brooklyn is both characterful and convenient, with heaps of transport links and easy access to the heart of the city. There is of course an incredible view of the famous Brooklyn Bridge to enjoy as you stroll along the waterfront and lots of restaurants for a thriving nightlife scene. Prices can be higher in the new developments in this neck of the woods, but the ease of living is generally worth it.

The Brooklyn Bridge at sunset

Upper West Side

The main events here are the leafy spaces of Central Park and Riverside. It’s so important to have open green areas to enjoy in this vast urban centre. This is a great area for museums too, with the Natural History Museum and the Lincoln Center right on your doorstep. Away from the parks you’ll find peaceful residential streets with great access transport and restaurants. Head north for the cheaper apartments!

West Village

This relaxed neighbourhood boasts picturesque tree-lined avenues that have an almost Parisian or Spanish feel. It’s the sort of place where you’ll quickly feel at home and won’t stick out as the newbie in town. If you want to spend the morning on your laptop eating freshly baked pastries at a friendly local café, this is the place to come. The vibe is laid-back and the options for entertainment are endless, meaning you might never have to leave!

Have you ever lived in New York? Share your tips for apartment hunting with us in the comments below.

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