How to Pick an Apartment in NYC

Moving to New York City for the first time is not easy, it is a whole adventure. It is even harder when the decision of coming to the city has been made quickly. Through this brief post, I want to give some advice on how to do it, so the experience can be smooth and efficient.

There are three things that you should consider before moving: budget, area and building requirements.

The first thing that must be decided is the budget. Once you have a clear range defined, you can look which areas of the city have places in which you are comfortable with the prices. To do this, use apps like StreetEasy and Naked Apartments. Both apps will show you basic information about each building and prices. Beyond this, I recommend looking for ratings of the buildings for previous experiences, which is a good way to know if the buildings are in good shape or if the landlords & property managers behave in a professional manner when faced with difficult situations. This will save you many problems.

Most upcoming Stern students try to look at areas close to the NYU, often in West Village or East Village. Nevertheless, the school has a bus that can take you all around the city, so it is good to map out your location against that route and the subways.

After knowing budget and area, it is important to analyze building requirements. There are buildings that ask for proof of income for one year, or a guarantor. These requirements could be difficult to meet as you are going to be studying for at least a year, and even harder if you are an international student. Therefore, it will be more efficient to know which buildings can adjust to your situation.

This city moves very fast, so if you see an available apartment one day, it could be gone as quickly as the next day. I recommend you have four or five buildings/ units in mind. I also recommend visiting the city for four or five days and conducting apartment visits. Once you see any apartment that you like, ask for an application and move forward (if possible, on the spot). You don’t want to lose your chance!

With this approach you will have an apartment in your budget, in an area that you like, avoiding stress in the process. It is a whirlwind of an experience, but it’s all worth it to live in such an amazing city!

Moving to NYC for the first time?

One of the most exciting parts of the Stern Tech MBA program is the opportunity to live and be a student in Manhattan! However, it can be daunting to think about moving to one of the most well known cities in the world. It is quite natural to feel intimidated, or even unsure, about making this kind of move. I moved to New York City from Boston in 2016, and while I had a network of friends from college already living here, I remember feeling overwhelmed by the apartment search process. There are so many neighborhoods and options, and it felt difficult to determine which apartments would be a good fit. 

I used resources like Street Easy and The Listings Project to look for apartments and eventually found a great spot in Williamsburg, which is a neighborhood in Brooklyn. I have lived in Brooklyn ever since, and found it easy to commute to Manhattan for class. If you aren’t a fan of waking up earlier for those 9am classes, it might make sense to look at housing in the West Village, Noho, or Soho to be able to walk to class, but for me it takes about 30-40 minutes via direct train to get to campus. There are different options for looking at housing during your time at school. NYU offers student housing, which is very close to campus. Pricing wise, the student housing might not be much cheaper, so many students decide to look for apartments on their own. Many people in our class live together after meeting online or at pre-MBA events. My classmates live ALL over the city, in Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and even New Jersey. New York City is on a speedier rental cycle, so most apartments go on the market about one month prior to the move in date. At first this worried me, but once I started searching, I realized there were so many options it didn’t make much of a difference. It’s important to have documentation like your admission letter, bank and tax statements, and prior landlord information on hand when you are looking, because the process can move quite quickly. Remember that there is no wrong neighborhood to live in!

New York City has so much to offer. I am constantly reading about new restaurants on The Infatuation, and starting the MBA really opened me up to new spots, cultures, and amazingly fun activities with my new classmates. Even as someone who had been living in the city for quite some time, it was incredible to connect with classmates and have tons of fun in a city where so many people were just moving to and making the most of. And remember, a home can be whatever you need it to be, so once you settle into your student routine, you will be able to control your pace and make plenty of time for rest and recharge. 

Advice for Admitted Students

The second year of Tech MBAs is currently being recruited and if you are one of the lucky candidates that got admitted, first of all, congratulations! I have received quite a few questions from admitted students who are planning for the year ahead. Below I will try to answer the most commonly asked questions:

 

How do I best prepare myself for the year ahead?

If you have the opportunity, I would try to take some time off in between resigning from your job and starting the program. Not only is there plenty to organize if you are moving to New York, but also mentally I think it is beneficial to take some time to switch from employee to student mode. Finally, make sure to make time now for your friends and family!

 

How do I find a place to live in New York?

There are two options: student housing or the regular housing market. While the student housing is very close to campus, the Stern graduate housing has similar pricing as regular housing while being shared, so most students decide to find something on their own. Students from our class live all over the city: in Manhattan, Brooklyn and also New Jersey. Where you want to live depends mostly on your personal preferences and budget. The rental market cycle in New York is later than most other cities and typically viewings are two to four weeks before the rental start period. If you prefer to share, some of my classmates met at one of the admitted student events and decided to live together!

 

How do I make the most out of the year?

It is a bit cliché, but I personally believe that if you don’t know where you are going, you will never get there. Therefore, before the start of the program, take a moment to sit down and write out your goals. These can be academic, social, career and personal. An optional way to do it is to imagine yourself at graduation and write what you will have achieved. As the year progresses, look back at this document from time to time. This will allow you to stay focused on your goals, as the year will go by so fast.

 

I’m an international student, what should I do in preparation?

Besides the visa process, moving internationally is a bit more challenging. Firstly, finances: Open an American bank account as quickly as possible as this is often required for housing (often this needs to be done from within the US, with the exception of HSBC). I found TransferWise very useful to transfer foreign currency to my US bank account with low fees. Set up Venmo with your US bank account, which you will use it often to transfer small amounts to classmates etc. Secondly, phone plan: I remember that I received a SIM card from Mint mobile in my international student packet from Stern, which provides good value. Third, housing: You most likely need an US co-signer for renting an apartment. If you don’t have one, there are companies that will be a co-signer for you (for a fee) such as TheGuarantors. I also find that larger real estate companies like Two Trees are easier in the process of renting out to international students than individual land lords. These companies don’t require international students to pay a couple months of rent upfront which many individual landlords do.

 

Can I work during the year?

As an international student on an F1 visa you can only work on campus. There are several job possibilities, although all require an application process: teaching assistant (supporting professors) graduate ambassador for the admissions office, or support on an undergraduate trek. If you are eligible to work in the US you can of course also do internships during the semester. Whether the workload is manageable is a personal question. I have classmates who work 5-10 hours a week with no problem and classmates who say they would not manage that. Typically, the first summer semester is very intense, but the fall and spring semesters have a bit more flexibility as those semesters you will not have class on Fridays.

 

If you have any more questions that are not answered above, don’t hesitate to reach out at mbaga@stern.nyu.edu!