If you are a renter looking for an apartment, you want to start your search as early as possible. This will give you ample time to search, tour apartments and find your ideal place.
Generally, you should start your search 30 to 60 days before the end of your lease. This allows you to get your applications in early and give landlords time to hold their units for you.
1. Know Your Budget
Before you start shopping, it’s important to understand your budget. It will help you determine if you can afford an apartment and ensure that your housing costs are in line with your overall financial goals.
The best way to get a sense of your budget is to write down all your living expenses. This includes rent, utilities, food, insurance, entertainment and transportation. Then, subtract these from your monthly gross income to figure out how much you can afford each month in rent.
You may also want to list any one-time expenses, such as moving expenses, furniture or other items that you will need for your new apartment. These can add up quickly, so make sure to leave room for these costs in your budget.
For most people, rent is the largest expense, so it’s a good idea to set aside at least 30% of your gross income for living expenses. This may seem high, but it can give you a good idea of how much you can afford to spend on your first apartment.
If you can’t afford to spend this amount, don’t worry — there are ways to cut expenses that will allow you to find an apartment that you can comfortably live in. For instance, you can cut your cable TV and Internet service to save money. Or you can consider finding a roommate to share your living space.
It’s also a good idea to look for an apartment that fits your lifestyle and needs. For example, if you work late at the office, you might be more comfortable living in an apartment near your workplace or within walking distance to where you shop and work.
Similarly, if you love to cook, you might want to consider an apartment that offers high-end kitchen appliances, hardwood floors or even an outdoor patio. This can help you feel like you’re really living in a home rather than just an apartment.
Before you start your search, it’s a good idea to make a list of what you want from an apartment and then prioritize them. This will help you avoid spending on things you don’t need or splurging on items that will end up taking up unnecessary space.
2. Know Your Needs
If you know your needs, it will be easier to find an apartment that meets them. This is because you’ll be able to narrow down your search by focusing on specific criteria.
For example, if you have a lot of furniture and other personal belongings, you should be looking for an apartment with plenty of extra storage space. It’s also a good idea to consider whether you want to live in a smaller, one-bedroom apartment or if you prefer larger apartments with more bedrooms and more closet space.
Similarly, if you want to be near your work, you should consider the availability of public transportation and how easy it is to get around by bike or car. It’s also important to check out the amenities that are available in your area, including gyms and pool access.
Another thing to consider is your budget. This will determine how much you’re willing to spend on an apartment and what you can afford. It’s also a good idea if you have a set moving date in mind to structure your search, so you can focus on apartment listings that fit your schedule.
In addition, it’s important to make a list of the features you want in your apartment, such as a garage parking spot and high-speed Internet. You can use this list as a guide when you start touring potential apartments.
You should also visit the apartments at different times of day to assess their integrity and get a sense of their noise level. This will help you evaluate the apartment’s energy efficiency and the quality of its construction.
It’s also a good idea to inspect the apartment for any problems, such as water damage, leaky faucets, rodents, mold, rust or broken windows. The last thing you want is to move into an apartment that’s unsafe for you or your family.
You should also make sure that the apartments you see have all of the essentials, such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide alarms. It’s a good idea to ask the property manager when they last got the batteries replaced and how old the detectors are.
3. Know Your Lifestyle
A lifestyle is a series of patterns of behavior, interaction, consumption, work and activity. It is often a good indicator of health and well-being. It can be a combination of things like a balanced diet, exercise, good sleep and positive social interactions. A lifestyle also reflects your attitude and personality traits. It is the sum of many decisions that you make, and it can be influenced by outside factors such as work, education and financial status.
The best way to determine your lifestyle is to conduct a self-assessment or questionnaire so that you can see how your life is currently shaped by the choices you make. This may help you to determine where to start your search and what type of apartment is likely to meet your needs. It is generally a good idea to start your search at least 2.5 months before you intend on moving into your new place in order to find the perfect apartment for your needs. This is the ideal time frame to avoid getting snagged by someone who has already made their move, or at least found an apartment that they love.
4. Know Where You Want to Live
If you know where you want to live, it’s a good idea to start looking as soon as possible. That’s because New York’s a city of walk-ups, and rental listings often go fast.
If it’s your first time moving, it can be helpful to narrow down your search using an online tool like StreetEasy or by checking out a neighborhood guide. Some of these tools will let you filter by location and price. Others will let you enter your criteria, such as number of bedrooms, amenities, and parking space.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s a good idea to visit each apartment you’re considering. This will allow you to check for water damage, mold, and other signs that it might not be the right fit. It will also give you a chance to inspect the neighborhood around the building and make sure it’s safe for your kids to play in.
It’s also a good idea to bring photo ID, pay stubs, bank statements, and a check book with you to the first appointment. This will help you avoid paying a broker’s fee, as well as a security deposit that can be as much as one month’s rent.
Finally, if you’re moving from a lower-income neighborhood, it’s a good idea to explore subsidized housing. These are apartments that are subsidised by the government, and are available in many neighborhoods. However, these apartments tend to have a long waiting list.
If you’re moving from Manhattan, it might be a good idea to look for an apartment in the Upper East Side, which isn’t as crowded or hectic as other neighborhoods in the city. It’s also a great place to raise kids, with good schools and plenty of parks. The downside is that access to dining, shopping, and entertainment might be limited.