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Manhattan Apartments: 3 Steps to save time looking for an NYC apartment

Updated on December 2, 2013

Why is finding an apartment in Manhattan time consuming?

Many people dream to move to NYC. I don't blame them, New York City is one of the most vibrant and exciting places to live in America. Its known for is tourist attractions, tall buildings, industry powerhouses and "not sleeping". What people fail to mention, at times, is the harsh world of NYC apartment rentals. Even if you've heard some stories nothing is the same until you actually experience it yourself. One of the greatest issues are for people who have time limits and/or coming from another state who are time constricted.


  • Unrealistic Expectations
  • Poor Time Management
  • Unfamiliarity

Here I want to highlight 3 basic steps to assist you in organizing your apartment finding experience in Manhattan and avoid the other 3 mistakes listed above. Ive worked with many people doing this and have seen people crash and burn on their journey to the Big City.


3 Steps to your Manhattan Apartment

  1. Budget
  2. Search
  3. Plan/Preparation


This move will cost money. Do not be fooled. It costs to move from state to state or neighborhood to neighborhood (gas, luggage, moving truck and/or moving company). It cost hire a broker (10-15% of the annual rent). Most importantly, it costs to rent your apartment.

You can't build a house without a foundation. Same rules apply when renting an apartment. When building a house you need properly measured wood, laid bricks, cement etc. When renting an NYC apartment your foundation is MONEY. Without money how can you rent an apartment? Its not possible. You can stay at a friend or family members home but thats not renting.

You may be thinking "Duh, I know I need money to rent an apartment". You are right, so a good question is "How much does it cost to rent an apartment?"

Prices vary from neighborhood to neighborhood but we don't want to research neighborhood cost just yet (I will direct you to a great resource for this later).

First, "How much can you afford or want to spend per month?". Keep in mind, especially if you're coming from a different state, room sizes aren't the same and landlord prefer that you make 40x the annual rent.


Now that we know how much money you can spend per month we can look into different apartments and neighborhoods. There are sooo many little neighborhoods it can be difficult to filter out the best New York apartments for you. Don't worry- a lot will be filtered out once you know how much you can spend.

When searching for the ideal/affordable New York Apartment there are a few ways to search for what works. You can use a site like (Free) or look for a Broker which could cost hundreds or thousands. You can find Brokers on real estate company sites like Keller Williams NYC or Citi-Habitats.

You can also take everything into you own hands and buy a cheap guide that details all the resources you need (as seen on the right).

For Example:

NYC Apartments Search Resources

Online Search
Keller William's NYC
Manhattan Apartments: 3 Major Steps (
Avoid Craigslist


Planning is the funnest part!

Or maybe not, it all depends on who you are. At this point people may choose to pay a Broker to do this part for them. Either way you will have to plan something. You need to find apartments and choose times to view apartments.

Keep in mind that apartment viewing isn't like a convenience store in New York, it isn't open 24/7. Some management companies are very strict. They don't allow showings after 6pm, you can only see the apartment between 9am and 2pm on wednesdays through saturday or are closed on the weekends.

Basically, there are many factors that aren't in your hands but the most important ones are (without you there is no real estate business):

  • Have your paperwork ready
  • Know your schedule (create a calendar on iCal or Google Calendar)
  • Make appointments
  • Bring a pen & pad to write down your likes and dislike- or - a iPad/iPhone notes/ pics
  • Timing is everything

If you are rooming with a friend or your family is helping you with the rent make sure you make the appointment according to their schedule too. Too many times have I seen people get excited, pick an apartment and be disappointed when their roommate wasn't comfortable with the choice or daddy doesn't like the neighborhood.

So, to save yourself time and agony, bring everyone involved along for the apartment search.


Good Luck!

Finding NYC apartments is a difficult task but it can be very simple if you KNOW what you are looking for and what you can afford. Tons of people go at it blindly and fall for the worst advertisements on Craigslist or tries to search 5 months before the time they need an apartment (which is too far away),

Following these steps and utilizing these resources guarantees you will have a clearer idea of the NYC apartment search. Making a move anywhere is time consuming and stressful. Do yourself a favor and Budget, Search and Plan according to your needs.

On the brightest of bright sides, Congratulations on your move to NYC. I know most people move to the city because they want to live life in the big city, they started a new job or they came to chase their dreams. Whatever your story is I'm sure you are about to embark on an amazing adventure!

Wait a Sec...

Have you already found an apartment? do you think these pointers are useful?

Are you about to move? what are you using to find NYC Apartments?

Please share below OR if you know someone that can use this information send them a link!

Thank You!


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