Finding your new home in NYC can be a nightmare. You will probably have to share your apartment with someone because the rents can be very high in the city. You might also have to revisit your requirements and consider moving to another neighborhood. Lots of people love the TV show Friends, and like most people who are fans of the show and not New Yorkers, I was under the impression that a 20 something could find a corner apartment in the heart of Greenwich village that could be huge and affortable. It would be an understatement to say I was mistaken.
I started my search with Craigslist, which odds are you probably did it too. Unfortunately , if you are not on site it is pretty hard to not find a scam or find weirdos that want to share half of their living room with you. It’s also hard to know how big or how clean it is. For example, I was offered an apartment with windows in the bedroom. That is a deal breaker for me… If you need to have a light on at all times and no ventilation, it simply isa NO thank you.
After a bunch of stressful disappointments, I decided to use a real estate agency that specialized in renting apartments to foreigners. I understand some of you might say that “you have the money to pay the agency fees but I don’t”. I would personally rather spend some extra money and be sure that I have a safe place to stay while on the other side of the world. You will already have the stress of the unknown, if you can be sure that at least you have a roof over your head, that will help make your journey a little less nerve wracking. The three times I needed to find an apartment I used Urban Living. I had a great experience with them, they get you all set up before you arrive. You can rent an apartment from 3 months to a year. They have great listings to accomodate all budgets.
My very first apartment I shared in NYC was with the landlady. The apartment had two bedrooms and one bathroom. I was paying 1400$ per month ( It’s a lot, but I didn’t know any better at the time). The lady was 70; you might think this is not really the ideal situation, but she was never really around and when she was she made me talk a lot. I was underage (20) for a lot of things at the time, so it wasn’t such a bad situation. I stayed with her 5 months.
My second apartment was a little different. I found the place, but I had to find a roommate. I found the perfect one, and to this day we are best friends. We paid 1130$ each. We stayed in a very nice spacious 2 bedroom apartment in Harlem. The location was perfect, right off 125th street near the subway and police station.
My third apartment with Urban Living was also in Harlem. There were already 3 roommates living there when I arrived. It was the smallest of all the apartments I rented. I paid 1050$ per month. It was small but, comfortable. Everybody was experiencing New York for the first time, we all became close friends. I stayed a year with them [Coincidentally we all left at the same time].
The apartment I am in today is a big upgrade for me. I moved into a spacious studio apartment with my husband 3 years ago. We are in a brand new building in Astoria with doorman, a rooftop patio, grills, gym and a lounge. We also have a dog roof witch is amazing when you are a dog owner like us. We choose this building for this very reason, we needed to find a pet friendly building [It is not easy to find one, stay tune for another article about that]. It was pretty easy to apply, we got the apartment within a month. My husband being american helped a lot.
To sum things up, if you are coming here for the first time and you do not have anybody that can take a look for you and make sure you are not getting scammed, I would greatly recommend that you contact a real estate agency. It will help you navigate the process which can be overwhelming at first and give you the added security of a guaranted contract, and turn your nightmare into a dream. Irronically, one thruth about the show FRIENDS is that most of my roommates became my BFFs.