Prepare for your Housing Search in NYC
Finding a place to stay in NYC can be an expensive process. This is one of the most expensive places to live in the USA with some of the most valuable real estate in the world.
Before you start your search there are several points you should consider that will influence your search:
- What is your budget?
- Do you want to rent or buy?
- Can you make an advance trip to NYC for house hunting or initially move into short-term rental and take your time finding a permanent place?
- Which area of the city do you want to live? Do you need to live outside of the city and commute in?
- What is your ideal size for the accommodation in terms of rooms and square meters? What can you live with?
- If buying, do you prefer a newly renovated place or are you ready to buy cheaper and renovate it yourself?
Neighbourhood Guide for New York City
NYC is a city that is ever-changing, with each neighbourhood hosting its own unique personality and community. The buildings, people, and events vary widely from place to place, and finding the right neighbourhood can be like finding your soul mate.
Traveling through New York can be incredibly confusing as the neighbourhoods are sometimes named for the geography such as "Upper East Side" or are acronyms like TriBeCa (for "TRIangle BElow CAnal Street") or SoHo ("SOuth of HOuston").
To understand the neighbourhoods, here is an overview on Manhattan's geography:
- Uptown: North-northeast, which is the direction in which the island and its street grid system is oriented. The term also refers to the northern part of Manhattan (generally speaking, above 59th Street.
- Downtown: South-southwest. This usage differs from that of most American cities, where downtown refers to the central business district. Manhattan has two central business districts, the Financial District at the southern tip of the island, and Midtown Manhattan. Downtown can also refer to the southern portion of the island below 14th Street.
- Midtown: Covers the middle area, generally between above 14th and below 59th.
- East/West designations: Fifth Avenue roughly bisects Manhattan Island and acts as the demarcation line for (e.g., East 27th Street, West 42nd Street); street addresses start at Fifth Avenue and increase heading away from Fifth Avenue, at a rate of 100 per block in most places. South of Waverly Place in Manhattan, Fifth Avenue terminates, and Broadway becomes the east/west demarcation line. Though the grid does start with 1st Street, just north of Houston Street, the grid does not fully take hold until north of 14th Street, where nearly all east-west streets use numeric designations, which increase from south to north to 220th Street, the highest numbered street on the island.
The heart of the New York City is the skyscraper packed island of Manhattan, located just off the coast of the state, with 1,620,867 people. It is the most densely populated borough with people as well as skyscrapers. The borough is the financial centre of the city, houses the United Nations, international headquarters, and many cultural attractions. Manhattan is loosely divided into Lower, Midtown, and Uptown regions. Uptown Manhattan is divided by Central Park into the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side, and above the park is Harlem.
Here are some of Manhattan's most identifiable neighbourhoods:
- Chelsea: offers a large gay district and charming little streets with luxurious homes. Most recently, the neighbourhood has been a centre of New York's art industry and nightlife.
- Chinatown: it is the biggest Chinese city out of Asia with a dense population of people of Chinese descent. To find out more about the area, go to explorechinatown.com
- Little Italy and Nolita: this area is especially popular for visitors during the Feast of San Gennaro in September. The neighbourhood is packed with restaurants, shops and an old-world charm.
- Soho: what it used to be an ancient manufacturing quarter is now a hot spot for artists and night-clubbers with a multitude of upscale shops.
- TriBeCa: Famous for its warehouses and artists' lofts, Tribeca is mostly a quiet residential area known for its film festival.
- Greenwich Village: Also known as the West Village, this area has a distinct bohemian vibe. A great neighbourhood to explore when you want to escape Manhattan's crowded streets and tall skyscrapers.
- Upper East Side: This is the ritziest, most expensive area and tends to be safe and quiet. This is also home to Museum Mile and excellent shopping. It also features convenient subway and bus service, as well as some of Manhattan's swankiest hotels.
- East village: Famous for punk-rock, great bars and its immigrant history, the East Village is an exciting place to be. To find out more, go to east-village.com.
- Lower East Side: New York City's historic Jewish neighbourhood was once the largest Jewish community in the world. Today, it is home to great bargain shopping, bialys and delicious pastrami sandwiches.
- Harlem: Though the neighbourhood name comes from the Dutch colonial era after Haarlem, the area is long known as a major African American cultural and business centre.
- Upper West Side: Primarily a residential and shopping area. This neighbourhood is regarded as more hip than the Upper East Side. It is characterized as more intellectual and creative and less stuffy.
The city also consists of four other boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. If the boroughs were independent cities, they would be among the ten most populous cities in the United States. The four other boroughs are easily reached by NYC metro and are often thousands of dollars cheaper to live than within Manhattan. Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island can all receive a bad rap for not being in downtown, but the benefits of larger living spaces, the neighbourhoods own identifiable characteristics and the chance to unwind from the hectic centre have always drawn a large population.
- The Bronx: New York City's northernmost borough is one of the epicentres of rap and hip-hop culture. It is also the site of Yankee Stadium and home of the New York Yankees. The largest cooperatively owned housing complex in the United States, Co-op City, is located here. The Bronx Zoo, the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States, is also here.
- Brooklyn: The city's most populous borough and was an independent city until 1898. Brooklyn is known for its cultural, social and ethnic diversity, an independent art scene and a unique architectural heritage. It is also the only borough outside of Manhattan with a distinct downtown area and a long beachfront. Coney Island, established in the 1870s, is one of the earliest amusement grounds in the country.
- Queens: Queens is, geographically, the largest borough and the most ethnically diverse county in the United States. Historically a collection of small towns and villages founded by the Dutch, today the borough is largely residential, with middle class citizens and it is expanding rapidly. It is the only large county in the United States where the median income among African Americans, approximately $52,000 a year, is higher than that of White Americans. Queens is the site of Shea Stadium and home of the New York Mets. Queens also supports New York City's two major airports: LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport.
- Staten Island: This borough is the most suburban of the five boroughs. Connected to Brooklyn by the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and to Manhattan via the free Staten Island Ferry, it is its own island. The Greenbelt has about 35 miles (56 km) of walking trails and one of the last undisturbed forests in the city. Designated in 1984 to protect the island's natural lands, the Greenbelt encompasses seven city parks. The F.D.R. Boardwalk along South Beach is two and one-half miles long, which is the fourth largest in the world.
How to Search for Accommodation in NYC
Most rooms, flats, apartments or houses are advertised on accommodation websites. You can search for a particular type of accommodation and set up alerts for your specific requirements.
Top sites include:
There are still some accommodation sections in major newspapers, although these are more often found on the newspaper's website. For example:
Keep your eyes open in desirable neighborhoods as notices for lease can be posted in shops, college notice boards, or even in the windows of available accommodation.
Never miss an opportunity to network in NYC. If you are looking for a place, tell all your friends and contacts. You can also utilize social media with posts on Facebook or neighbourhood site, Nextdoor.
Brokers in NYC
Brokers are commercial organisations that help you find private rented accommodation. Hiring a broker may save you a lot of time and worry as these have become the norm in most of NYC but add a hefty cost to renting in the city. A broker's fee is charged to the renter at the rate of 10 - 15 percent of a year's rent is common.
To find out more about "rental agents in NYC", in EasyExpat.com we invite you to read Emily Nonko article "NYC rental brokers: Why they exist and how to work with them".
Roommates in New York
Flatsharing is the most popular option among students or newcomers to the city. This helps make the city more affordable but can be complicated as space is limited and living in close quarters with a stranger is bound to be an adjustment. It is important that you look for the right situation and only sign contracts that you completely understand and feel comfortable with.
On the other hand, living with a roommate can have benefits, like socializing, sharing experiences in the city, and splitting household chores.
To protect yourself against potential problems, try to arrange it so that your roommates co-sign the lease. This makes all the roommates responsible for whatever happens to the property.
Popular websites to find a roommate:
Hostels in New York
To first get established in the city, you might want to visit or stay in a hostel or short-term accommodation for a period before deciding on a permanent location. Luckily, New York City offers a good selection of hostels, both in terms of quality and price. Most hostels are conveniently located in Manhattan, although prices are cheaper off the island and transportation makes moving around the city manageable.
The prices for a bed in a dorm start from $29, with private rooms starting at $130. The most credible webpages to find a hostel in New York are:
Recommended hostels in NYC: Central Park West Hostel, Big Apple Hostel, American Dream Hostel, and Chelsea International Hostel
I went to NY with two friends we rent in Manhattan for 45$ each the night great flat
The property caretaking field is growing and trustworthy people are in demand as caretakers and housesitters. Many people now own multiple homes and properties throughout the world. They often require the services of a housesitter or caretaker to look after their properties. A glance through the pages of The Caretaker Gazette reveals that, in many cases, property owners are seeking "mature" or "retired" singles and couples to fill these positions.
Housesitting and property caretaking can provide you with the opportunity to experience life in a different geographic locale and save money by living rent-free. While there are numerous positions available throughout the United States, more intrepid travelers opt to explore the caretaking lifestyle in another culture.
There are virtually no age limits when it comes to caretaking. More and more people are discovering that property caretaking can enable them to live in a variety of locales. They have found that it is a great way to get to know an area prior to making a long-term commitment.
To learn more about the property caretaking field, and all the rent-free housesitting assignments available worldwide, go to The Caretaker Gazette’s website at http://www.caretaker.org