I moved into my apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan about a month ago (can’t believe it’s already been a month!!), and so far, I am loving it! But it wasn’t that long ago that I was going through the stress of apartment hunting in New York City (aka the worst thing on earth). I am by no means an expert at apartment hunting and moving (probably more like the opposite actually…) but I did learn a few things along the way, so I thought I would pay it forward and share some tips and advice I’ve gathered through my experience.
Summer is just around the corner which means this city is about to see an influx of interns and new hires. If you happen to be one of them, I hope these tips are helpful to you as you embark on this terrifying (but super exciting!) journey 🙂
1. The Pre-Move Clean Out
This is perhaps the most important of all steps toward a successful move to New York. If you haven’t already heard (which you definitely have because we all complain about it enough…), New York is known for tiny apartments, which means tiny bedrooms, closets, bathrooms, kitchens etc. This is no time for you to be sentimental about the pair of holey socks you were wearing when your middle school boyfriend leaned in for that first kiss (kissing in middle school?! So scandalous!). But in all seriousness, before you even break out the suitcases and moving boxes, do a thorough clean out of all of your possessions and don’t bring anything you don’t absolutely love, need, or care about. Cleaning out closets, drawers, and cabinets is on no one’s list of favorite activities, but when you actually have room to breath in your new
shoebox apartment, you will be glad you put in the time and effort. Getting rid of things also means you will have fewer boxes to carry up 3 flights of stairs (can I get an amen?!).
2. You might not be Serena Van Der Woodsen, but that doesn’t mean you have to live in a pig sty
I hope I’m not crushing your dreams when I tell you that your first apartment in New York is not going to be a penthouse on Park Ave. However, that doesn’t mean you have to resort to something dangerous, disgusting, dirty, or all of the above. My roommate, Melissa, and I looked at some pretty gross apartments before finding our current place, and I started to think this was what we would have to settle for. THANK GOD it wasn’t. Know your budget and be realistic, but don’t settle for something that you know you won’t feel comfortable or safe in. It will take time and effort, but the happy medium between a penthouse on Park Ave and cardboard box in a parking spot is out there. I promise!
3. Don’t Black Out
You made it to an apartment viewing! Congrats! Now put that third arm (aka your smartphone, deh) to use. Take pictures and notes. The agent showing the apartment will most likely start rattling off numbers and information about the apartment and terms of the lease. You might think these are easy things to remember, but if you’re seeing four apartments in one hour, the numbers tend to jumble together and you could end up blacking-out the entire day (Did he say it was $2,500 or $25,00?!?). This is no freshmen year gen-ed class! Taking notes in the real-world is not only for dweebs (yes, I just said dweebs) and will help you make this pretty massive decision. So don’t be afraid to break out the trusty notes app on your phone and type away!
4. Prepare Those Papers
Dollars aren’t the only types of paper you’re going to need to apply for an apartment. You will also need these bad boys. If you haven’t heard, New York operates at a pace about five times faster than the rest of humankind, so it’s a good idea to gather these documents in advance so you’re able to jump on an apartment you’re interested in right away. Apartments in New York can come on and off the market in a matter of a day, so being prepared is a major key to ensuring you have the best chance of grabbing your favorite place.
5. Get Excited!!
You just signed for your apartment! Time to get excited!! Spend some time getting to know your new neighborhood before you move in so you feel more at home on your first day. If you’re a gym rat, check out the gyms in your neighborhood to find the one that’s best for you. Locate your nearest bodega (definition: a small convenient store that often comes complete with a cat). Decide if your closest Trader Joe’s is worth the cheap produce or if you’re going to suck it up and shop at the Gristede’s down the block instead. Many of these things will come with time, so don’t feel the need to figure it all out at once. But taking the time to at least think through some of these things in advance will make you feel a bit more in control once move-in day rolls around.
Every one’s experience shopping and signing for an apartment in New York is unique. There is no script to follow, so don’t be afraid to invent your own. It’s stressful process, but once you’re opening a bottle of wine in your new place on the first night, you’ll know it was all worth it. But just know that you might be enjoying that bottle of wine on the floor because come on, we aren’t superheroes here 😉
Best of luck on your adventure!
Rosica Mrsik Marble Print Blouse from Nineteenth Amendment
Photos by: Lauren Listor