Getting the Most out of Life

Renting in NYC: What You Should Know Before Moving to the Empire State

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Moving to the Big Apple is a life goal for thousands (dare we say millions?) of people. New arrivals come each year to fulfill their dreams, find employment, or just see if they can survive the harsh reality of living in New York, New York. Unfortunately, not all of them are ready to face one of the toughest battles: renting in NYC.

Because you have mere hours—or even just minutes—to act when you find an apartment you like and can afford, get a game plan in place before you meet with a broker or potential landlord. That way, you give yourself the best possible chance of success.

Get Organized

  • Check your credit score. Your future landlord will most likely run a credit check, so you should know if there’s a problem. A score of 700+ is ideal.
  • Have a guarantor lined up. The rule of thumb in NYC is that you must earn 40 times your monthly rent. So if rent is $1,000 a month, you should make $40,000 a year. Regardless, the landlord may want a guarantor on the lease if you have bad or no credit. This person is essentially a co-signer, often a parent, who will cover your rent if you fail to pay.
  • Bank statements. Freelancers, contractors, and people with a low credit score should bring a bank statement. You need to prove you have enough cash to pay the rent.

Come Prepared

  • Bring your checkbook. If you like the apartment, then you’ll need put down a deposit to hold it while your application is processed. Usually the deposit is a month’s worth of rent. Make sure you know how to write a check, too.
  • Have enough money in the bank. Application approved? Awesome! Your landlord will expect at least first month’s rent and a security deposit up front. Some will ask for first, last, and a security deposit. If you used a broker, you’ll need to pay their fee as well. Basically, be ready to hand over four times the amount of rent you’re willing to pay.

Consider Alternatives to the Big Apple

Perhaps New York City doesn’t appeal to you, or you want to try a smaller city with similar opportunities. There are plenty of options, but these four have been booming in the last few years:

  1. Nashville, Tennessee. The motherland of country music has recently exploded in popularly. Its affordable housing market, lack of state income tax, and unique cultural scene appeal to a young demographic.
  2. Denver, Colorado. This city’s walkability and outdoor accessibility suit a lot of Millennials looking for work-life balance, and its strong job growth is a nice bonus.
  3. Portland, Oregon. This area is possibly the birthplace of the original hipster. Portland offers one of the most eclectic communities for young Millennials along with an enticing and celebrated food scene.
  4. Austin, Texas. A destination for vibrant young people, Austin is home to startups and an emerging tech scene. It has a similar feel to Portland, with a little more country music, excellent BBQ, and no state income tax.

Renting in NYC doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, but ultimately, make sure you’re up to the daunting task before you decide to move. Considering living in a state with a lower tax burden will help you in the long run, as well.