Renting 101: Our Guide To Finding An NYC Apartment

A vicious quest undertaken by every New Yorker, one more taxing than seeking a reliable dry cleaner, more heart-wrenching than tracking down a Sunday morning brunch buddy. Yes, each borough dweller knows of what we speak: the dreaded, hair-pulling apartment hunt. And what a hunt it is, one only executed with finesse by those most prepared, be it with a killer broker or some sort of magical Craigslist mojo. We've entered the urban jungle, searching for El Dorado, the mythical land of gold, and possibly a doorman. Even the most seasoned NYC inhabitant has struggled through this pursuit, so we talked to some experts—specifically, Khloe Kardashian's New York realtor Tim Drucker of Citihabitats—plus, we culled our own horror stories and apartment tips for finding the place of your dreams.
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Here's our guide to finding an NYC apartment in a snap!

Know What You Want, And What You Can Give Up
Tim says, right off the bat, "Make a list of the things you really want, the things you would like but don't need, and the things that you won't be happy with." Are you a heavy sleeper with a formidable wardrobe? A quiet street might not be necessary, but closets, then, are a must. Editor Kristian Laliberte didn't require a great train system because of his generally Manhattan-based life—but Brooklyn and beyond may put location and efficient public transit above all.
Fee Versus No Fee
If you're looking for a really smokin' deal and don't mind paying up front—and are hoping for a headache-free search—it may be worth it to acquire the services of a broker, like Tim, who says, "Get in touch with an experienced agent who knows the market and inventory in every neighborhood. In one phone call, they can tell you exactly what you are going to be able to find. Someone knowledgeable will know the breadth of the entire industry." That being said, most of our staff found their places with no fee. Yes, patience really is a virtue.
No Price Is Fixed In Stone
An apartment's price, like everything in New York, is often negotiable. This doesn't mean you can haggle a $3,000-a-month duplex into a $2,000-a-month steal, but by offering a flexible move-in date, or simply by making an offer, you can clear some breathing room in your monthly expenditure. One contributor reports that she offered 12 months of post-dated checks for $100 less on her monthly rent. No matter what course you take, Tim mentions that you should make 40 times your rent annually—paying $1,000/month means you net $40,000 a year.
Like A Bra, Know Your Measurements
Space and location are the two greatest commodities in the city, and it's likely that you can only have one. So, determining how large your current space is and how much you'd like to increase (or can afford to decrease), is a smart way to avoid landing in a too-tight room. Don't be afraid to whip out a measuring tape to see if your bed would fit, or if the closet is micro compared to your current setup. Not only will you appear prepared, but you'll be able to envision how you'll fit all your belongings into a storage closet thisbig.
Get Familiar With Online Databases
Heading down the DIY route? There are numerous options to choose from, aside from Craigslist. We love NakedApartments, and PadMapper searches a throng of databases to map various rental locations. (Production Editor Lisa Dionisio found herfirst place on StreetEasy.) The web will also give you the full scoop on a place: Even if they aren't the worst landlords in New York (there are databases for that, too), it's always shrewd to do a little Google sleuthing. And let's address the itchy elephant in the room: Try the Bedbug Registry to make sure your new abode is not listed.
To get ahold of our favorite realtor Tim, he's available at tdrucker@citi-habitats.com.
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