Top 5 NYC Apartment-Hunting Tips

nyc sky view

When looking for an apartment in the glorious city of New York, you’ll probably hop on Craigslist and search away. With the summer fast approaching, we’ll have lots of college students moving back home, college students looking for a summer sublet for the sick internship they just landed, and college grads looking to move here to start the ever-so-wonderful NYC hustle. The following tips should help you circumnavigate all the bullshit you see when weeding through craigslist’s ads:


When the ad says “railroad style,” that basically means you have next to zero privacy. Every room is interconnected, so good luck bringing someone home for a one-night stand and thinking you can get away with it.

Any apartment that is “right next to the A,B,C,D line” is most likely several blocks away from the nearest subway. I mean, if I’m on the Upper East Side, I’m “right next” to Harlem, am I not?

When someone says they have a spacious kitchen, or a comfortable living room, what they really mean is that they have a hallway or a room with a stove in it.

When in doubt, press the seller or broker on details. The key to success in the city is to be an asshole first, and then once you’ve gotten what you want, act like they’re your best friend.

real estate broker
Though some brokers can be helpful in finding you an apartment, more often than not they exist solely to rip you off and pack you into the shittiest place they can find before robbing their next customer.  Here are some of the plays they use:

Oh that apartment isn’t available anymore, but I have dozens of others that are just like it!

Bull. Shit. These apartments are outside your price range, miles away from where you actually want to be, and generally harbor vermin.

So you’ll probably think to yourself: “Oh I’ll just have this broker show me one place, and that’ll be the end of it.

It’s amazing how persuasive a good salesman can be, for the average broker will make a killing off sending you off to every borough trying to get you to rent the worst places imaginable.

In short, fuck brokers. Avoid them at all costs.


Image via Flickr/

Image via Flickr/ shaggyshoo

If you want to save money and avoid the bullshit of brokers and other con artists, you’re going to end up living in a fifth-floor walkup with about three other people, but hey you’ll only be paying $1,000 a month!

You can try to convince yourself that walking up the stairs every day to your place will make you fit and you’ll have a great view, but the reality is you will hate your life after only a few short weeks and would be willing to pay anything for even the world’s shittiest elevator.

If saving money is your number one priority though, walkups are your best and most likely only option to live in NYC.


Image via jkirsh/Shutterstock

Image via jkirsh/Shutterstock

The best deal you can often find is someone who just needs roommates and is trying to save money. You get to meet the person you’ll be living with for the next year, judge him accordingly and see the place how it already looks in a furnished state. Yes, some of these people can be very sketchy, but more often than not they’re just an average New Yorker like you trying to save some money and live with awesome people. At the very least, they’re not going to charge you a bullshit fee like a broker.


Featuring lofts above stoves, “furnished” rooms with one chair in them, and large closets that people think function as bedrooms. Avoid ANYTHING that looks like this. NYC living is strenuous at times, but you should never have to settle for this shit. There are better apartments out there. The best site I’ve used to find a good apartment in the city or really anywhere in the United States is Padmapper.

Above all, trust your instincts. If you have a bad feeling about the apartment, the broker, the landlord or anything, back the fuck out. Don’t take the first place you find with a good price. There are plenty of places to rent in New York. Save up a good amount of cash, have some patience and you’ll get a good place to live.