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How to Rent Smart in New York City?

July 17th, 2009 Posted by Featured, Real Estate No Comment yet

Do Not Judge An Apartment By The Rent!

“Do you know anyone who is renting out their apartments in New York?” – It’s the time of the year again where New York apartments become hot commodities.

Yes, no doubt, the current economic crisis has dampened the rental markets and has brought down the rent in many areas in New York City. However, many people still finding it hard to secure that perfect apartment!

Renting in NYC could be a challenge especially if this is your first time in the city, with so many ‘noise’ in the market: diverse neighborhoods, various price levels, different kinds of buildings, lingos, fees, criteria, etc.

To make things easier for you, I came out with a list of criteria for you to think through before you sign on the dotted line.  This could save you a lot of time, headache and regrets and most importantly, get your dream apartment within your budget!

Rent smart by going through the following important criteria:

  1. Convenience
  2. Comfort
  3. Effective Cost
  4. Terms/Finance
  5. Case Study
  6. Rent Smart Checklist


How Far is the Nearest Subway Station?

One of my first questions in any real estate transaction in NYC is always, “How far is the nearest train station?” Wait a minute you might say, shouldn’t the neighborhood be the number one question. Yes, it seems like it but do you really want to stay in a fringe of a great neighborhood that is a dreary 15 minutes walk away from the nearest subway station. For those who haven’t been to NYC in winter, nope, it’s not a good idea. And you don’t want to lug home those OJs that weigh a ton from the subway station.

I have friends who rented great apartments in Manhattan that are a distance away from the subway station for pretty affordable rent. However, you will, and trust me, YOU WILL, take cabs in many occasions from wherever you are or just from the subway station back to your apartment or maybe you are just running late. May it be after the late night party, dinner, or just hanging out at your friends’? When you add up ALL the money spent on cab, you are just better off upgrading yourself to a much better apartment in a more central location. Maybe the cab money can even ‘buy’ you a doorman? Elevator? Gym?

Is it in Manhattan?

When I first came to New York, I had wanted to only rent in Manhattan (though I might have to eat less and play less). I ended up sharing a 2 bedroom in Queens, that is literally 2 mins away from the R & W train. It took me only 15 mins to get to my midtown office door to door, the shortest commute among my colleagues living in the upper east, midtown west, downtown, you name it.

Queens could be a choice when your activities circle around midtown. I paid 1/3 of the rent I would have if I stayed in Manhattan, that left me a lot of change to enjoy what New York has to offer, Broadway shows, great restaurants…

However, a point to note is that a lot of great restaurants and activities are located downtown. I hangout in Chinatown a lot (food!!) and it is a pain to go from Queens to Chinatown. Another point to think about. Where will you be hanging out? Brooklyn might be a choice if you hang out downtown.

The key point is, don’t just decide that you will ONLY rent in Manhattan or you will ONLY rent in Queens or Brooklyn. Rents in Queens and Brooklyn should be generally cheaper than Manhattan for the same kind of building. The savings could be worth it for some and not for others. You have to decide. And sometimes, you might be able to get a really great deal in Manhattan! I have friends who paid the same rent for a one bedroom in Brooklyn and two bedrooms in Manhattan.

For the same price, you might get a 4th floor studio in a walkup in Manhattan with a 20 year-old bathroom with squeaky floors or an almost new studio in Queens with granite kitchen counter top.  What would you choose? Read on.


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