If you’re moving to New York to take a new job, there’s one thing to know, right off the bat: everything costs more than it does in other cities, from food and rent, to transportation, utilities, and healthcare. According to consulting firm Mercer’s annual survey, NYC now ranks 11th in the world when it comes to the cost of living. To put that ranking into perspective, San Francisco ranks 26th, Los Angeles 27th, Chicago 34th, D.C. 38th, and Boston 47th—no other U.S. city cracks the top 25.
But renting in New York is unlike anywhere else in the country. A fast-moving market and lots of competition from long-time New Yorkers and transplants make this seemingly reasonable task an epic challenge—and an expensive one. Go to PayScale’s Cost of Living Calculator and plug in your current city and New York, for comparison. You’ll likely see the bar on the housing category skyrocket. Here’s a comparison between LA and NYC, for example:
No matter where you’re moving from, a little research beforehand will save you a lot of heartache. Prepare yourself, and you can ensure that the process goes smoothly.
Deciding Where to Live: Do Your Legwork
New York City’s diverse neighborhoods offer something for everyone. Spend some time researching the different neighborhoods available to you. This will not only help you determine which is the best fit for your lifestyle, but also what you can afford. Just be sure to keep your expectations realistic when searching. As previously mentioned, your salary may not go as far in New York. If you’re unwilling to downsize dramatically, consider roommates or moving further afield in Brooklyn (e.g. Crown Heights or Red Hook) or northward in Manhattan (e.g. Washington Heights and Inwood). This will of course affect your commute time, so take note of what transportation options will be available.
Parking and Transportation
If your job will be in Manhattan anywhere south of 96th Street, your best bet is to ditch the car. Unlike job centers such as Los Angeles where employers provide dedicated parking for their employees, New York’s business districts are notoriously inconvenient and expensive to drive and park in. The great majority of residential buildings in the city also do not provide parking spaces for residents. Therefore, if you decide to keep a car, you will likely be at the mercy of street-side parking rules and regulations or will have to pay hefty fees to one of the city’s relatively few garages.
Securing Your Apartment
New York City’s real estate market is red hot right now. Currently Manhattan’s vacancy rate is just 2.3 percent (Douglas Elliman, June 2016). Compare this to just above 5 percent in Boston, 3.8 percent in Chicago, and roughly 3 percent in Los Angeles and San Francisco, according to the latest available data. High demand makes for a tight market, and in NYC the best-priced places will often be snapped up within days of being listed. If you fall into the camp that is looking for a deal, be prepared to act quickly.
- Be ready for a credit check.
- Have your most recent bank statements and pay stubs handy. A common rule is that a prospective renter should earn at least 40 times the monthly rent.
- Be prepared to hand over a hefty deposit within a day or two. Rent, security, and any brokerage fees are due at lease signing in the form of certified funds such as a money order and cashier’s check.
- Have a guarantor in place if your finances are shaky.
New York City has numerous laws in place to protect tenants. This means it is incredibly difficult for a landlord to evict a tenant even if they haven’t been paying rent. This is really a landlord’s only opportunity to ensure a tenant will make good on their agreement.
The Role of Real Estate Brokers and No-Fee Rentals
A large percentage of buildings and landlords will opt to use brokers. Brokers are a way for landlords to vet tenants. One important thing to keep in mind is that both tenants and landlords pay fees for a broker’s services, unlike Los Angeles, Chicago, and D.C. where the landlord covers the cost. No-fee brokers do exist, but what’s in their chest of properties will differ from their paid counterparts. You can also skirt this extra cost by searching for no-fee rentals through dedicated sites.
While relocating to New York City may sound overwhelming to you, it’s not impossible. Remember, millions before you have successfully made the same move. On top of that, there truly is no other place like The City That Never Sleeps. You’ll be living in one of the world’s most diverse urban centers, and you’ll also be able to count yourself among the world’s crème de la crème in nearly every industry. In the words of Frank Sinatra:
If I can make it there
I’ll make it anywhere
New York, New York