So You Want to Rent An Apartment in New York City

You’re on the cusp of graduating from Reed, Oberlin, or Williams College. You flew to New York for the weekend to lock down a pad so you can finally move here to become a freelance _________. Start by picking a neighborhood, telling yourself you can only live in a studio, by yourself, in Williamsburg. That’s where everybody from your liberal arts college flocks when they graduate, so obviously that’s where you need to be to feel hip, cool, legit.

Go on Craigslist. Skip the past the “Broker” apartments, click on “All No-Fee Apartments Only.” You’re saying, “Who uses a Broker to rent an apartment?!” Believe you’ll get a better deal this way, don’t realize nobody gets a “deal” in New York real estate.

Type “Williamsburg” in the search window and limit your max rent to “$900.” 26 results materialize. You’re seeing stuff in non-Williamsburg neighborhoods you’ve never heard of, such as Bushwick, Far Rockaway, and Gowanus. You’re like, What’s a Gowanus? Open up Google Maps to see what “Gowanus” means. See that it’s toxic, has Gonorrhea, is nowhere near Williamsburg. But Whole Foods is coming, so that’s kind of rad.

Scroll down. Here’s one, an “AmaZinG 1bdrm Aptm***(Williamsburg)”—no price listed. Click it. Inside the link there’s just a picture of a wall, which obviously tells you everything you need to know. But it’s by the Bedford L train, a major plus. The owner is having an Open House tonight from 6-9PM, something you’ve never heard of, so you go.

By the time you get there you realize the place isn’t by the Bedford L at all. It’s actually on the Lorimer Street J train. Whoa. To get to Williamsburg, all you have to do is walk to the Flushing Avenue G train, coast two stops up to Metropolitan Avenue, get out, walk up the stairs, walk, then go down the stairs, then up more stairs where you catch the L train at Lorimer and move one stop west to Bedford. Total travel time: 35 minutes.

By the time you get there, 10 or 45 people are already inside, plus a line of people outside waiting to get in. All this for an apartment? You take a look around and realize everybody’s handing out cover letters, resumes, employment letters, tax returns, bank statements, blood test results, health records, police reports, school transcripts, and photo albums to the owner dude. Everybody’s filling out questionnaires.


You go over to the owner, tell him you’re about to graduate from wherever with a degree in whatever. Tell him you really need to lock down a place today because you’re leaving Sunday—you only flew out to find an apartment. He’s like, I don’t rent to students or freelancers. Do you have a guarantor? And you’re like, What’s that? And he goes, How’s your credit? So you go,        I don’t think I have any, and that’s when he asks if you have a parent who makes 250x the rent who can get on the lease with you and you’re like Um and then he asks where they live so you’re like in California and he’s all, Sorry, kid, I only take guarantors in the Tri-State area.

Basically you just wasted a whole day on that one apartment. Call your parents. Tell them getting an apartment is like trying to get accepted to Harvard. Ask them—plead— can’t you just buy me a place? No. Call your best friend Max, tell him what happened. He’s like, Bro, you gotta use a broker dude.

Next day. Roll around (real) Williamsburg and pop into a broker such as Apartments and Lofts. Speak to Lisa (hot, maybe 25-29) and tell her you’re leaving tomorrow, you really need a place today. Tell her what you want. Say your budget is $900. She throws a stack of paperwork at you and you fill it out in her office while she sifts through phone calls, text messages and other alerts on all four of her BlackBerry’s. You’re just on the verge of Carpal Tunnel from all the paperwork and she puts down the phone and says, Okay I have a couple places to show you, one for $1250, one for $1500, and the other for $2300. All totally out of your price range. She talks with a New Jersey accent and has on a spray spray tan. Big hair. Reaches for her Louis Vuitton, Starbucks, and you both climb into her BMW M6 convertible, top down.

Apartment 1, noisy, under the BQE, 15 minute walk to the subway, no doors. Apartment 2, a one-bedroom with a shower in the kitchen, no stove—just a microwave and a hot plate. Apartment 3—a breath of fresh air (sort of): new construction, doorman, center of Williamsburg, 100 square feet. $2300. You pick that one, almost three times what you wanted to pay. Lisa’s like, Great. I’ll need a copy of your cover letter, resume, employment verification, tax return, credit score and bank statements to get you approved.

You: Um…

Lisa: How much money do you have, kid? You need to make 65x the rent in a year. Plus first, last, security, holding deposit and my broker’s fee.

You: Oh, um…how much is all that?

Lisa: Let me add it up. [Typing on her BlackBerry]. It comes out to $11,500 total.

You: To rent an apartment?!

Lisa: This is New York Fuckin’ City.

You: Um…

Call your parents. Tell them the news. Dad freaks out. Dad says That’s ridiculous. Dad says We’re not giving you $12,000 to rent an apartment. Says to settle for a different, cheaper city, such as Burlington, Vermont. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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Author of How To Be A Pop Star.

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