Getting Your Foot on the Dance Floor

Moving to New York City is an exercise in creativity, endurance, and patience. 

Ways of finding a place to call home include (cheap to expensive):

1. Sofa surfing on a friend’s sofa until you get a job and can rent.

2. Staying in a Youth Hostel (after your friend throws you out)

3. Find an artist-residency. Some pay you and give you a place    for free, others offer reduced housing costs. 

4. Air BNB it - some folks are just living this way permanently 

5. Sublease - Some come with furniture and this type of landlord may require less in the way of proof of income.  

6. Find a rental broker free listing.

7. Pay an broker to show you the better apartments and sign a year lease. You’ll hate giving up an additional one month’s rent worth of a commission to the agent but it’s a popular way of screening renters for landlords so it’s hear to stay. By the way, the average Brooklyn rent is $2,600. Here is a website with other averages. 

8. Buy a place! Hope you have an extra million! 

Our own story: 

When my wife and I decided to move to Brooklyn we knew we wanted to rent a place for a year.  We asked friends for a recommendation to a real-estate agent. We found one, and though very friendly, they ended up showing us only one good apartment they had listed themselves and a few really, really,  awful apartments (think dungeons) that were not at all comparable or a good fit for our needs. We had agreed in advance to work with them for up to 3 days to look for places in Brooklyn, but after one day ( and a free meal on us) and after showing us only about three places, the agent told us they were not available the next day. They had boxed us in to accepting their place. (An apartment with a ceiling so low the ceiling fan hit my head - with windows facing a solid brick wall!) We went to bed that night despondent and feeling played. We had only one mediocre option. 

While lying in bed we got on our smart phones and found several places listed on the internet that seemed good. At 10:30 PM I emailed an agent and he called me on the spot. After some thoughtful questions he said he had some matches for us and by noon the next day we had found a perfect place for us; high ceilings, newly remodeled, wooden floors, kitchen with granite bar, windows over looking trees. We left a message dumping the agent who had played us and never heard from them again. Lessons? #1: Do not prearrange an agent. Just look online and work with the listed agent for each apartment. One of them will be a good match and your go forward with them to see other places.  #2: Give yourself more than three days. #3: Don’t let yourself be played. The Internet gives you the power of knowledge. 

Because we did not have jobs yet in the city, the landlord asked for five months prepaid rent. We talked them down from that but ended up having to pay several months rent all at once. So be ready for that. There are two types of rental properties; one is offering rents at market rates and can raise their rent yearly. The other is operating under rent control and cannot raise rents without permission from the city. Be sure to know which you are getting. Also, research the landlord online to make sure they are not slum lords that abuse their tenants. Renters can call the city at 311 and lodge a complaint, if an issue is not addressed. These complaints are public record. Try - they tally all such information and give a letter grade to landlords like the health department gives to restaurants.  You can check by address and by name of landlord. 

Next, I will share the story of a couple of artists who are good friends now. Their approach was different but equally successful. 

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