So, you’ve applied to college, you’ve been accepted and you’ve got your financial aid all in order. The hardest part is over, right? Wrong. Now comes the overwhelming task of finding yourself an apartment. If you’re looking for housing off-campus (the best way to go if you don’t want a Resident Advisor cramping your style), you’ve got an exhausting road ahead of you.
First of all, know that Craigslist is hit or miss. If you find an apartment that isn’t a shitbox on the corner of Rape and Murder, you’re extremely lucky. Look to spend around $1,000 a month, hopefully including utilities, for your new room. Anything less than that could come with cockroaches or bedbugs, and anything more than that is too nice for your collegiate antics. And we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re most likely going to end up in a place like Bushwick or Bed-Stuy. Not quite what you dreamed of while watching Friends reruns this summer, but even Williamsburg is getting pricey these days.
Next, decide whether you want a broker. This can go two ways: It may put you more at ease to know you have a professional eye helping you pick a place out, but it could also be an extra headache. “When I look for an apartment, I tend to go without a broker,” says our friend Thommy, who recently went brokerless to move into a Bushwick apartment. “I just feel like they’re that sketchy middleman you don’t really need, the one adding all these fees when you already have to come up with first and last month’s rent plus security.”
If you already have roommates you intend to live with, go look at prospective apartments together, says Janet Guerra of Park Slope’s Brownstone Real Estate. “This expedites the process considerably. It ensures the landlord that you’re serious about the property, and you’re less likely to lose the apartment in the duration of the time it would take to have your roommate come take a look.” You also don’t want to be walking around alone in neighborhoods you’re not familiar with, and you most certainly don’t want to be tucked away alone in some upstairs apartment with a stranger and no way out.
Most importantly, you need to make sure you have the proper paperwork to secure housing in New York. Renting an apartment is serious stuff and the landlord needs to know you’re a responsible renter, says Guerra. Proper paperwork includes, but is not limited to, guarantor forms, photo ID, at least three months’ worth of checking account information, W-2 forms and proof of your savings and earnings to substantiate and validate the amount of money that needs to be spent on rent. “Since many students are unlikely to fully financially support themselves, it’s important to have your parents’ financial information on hand,
as a kind of insurance,” says Guerra.
Sure, it’s a headache, but after you move your crap in and open that celebratory PBR—there’s probably nothing else in the fridge—you’re going to give yourself a good old punch on the arm for doing the first adult thing in your life.