The past few weeks have been a time of
painful exciting growth and learning as I navigate the NYC rental market for the first time. Below are just 5 of the initial hidden/unexpected expenses that will be a reality for me when I finally snag the perfect apartment.
1. What it means to work with a broker & the fee that it incurs.
Let’s get real here for a second. If you are navigating the rental market for the first time, especially in a town like NYC, you’re going to need some help. We are working with an (awesome) broker that a friend recommended and who, at the end of our hunt, will charge 15% of the annual apartment rent as payment for his services. He has been an invaluable resource to have and makes the entire process run much more smoothly and organized. We simply stated the neighborhoods we were interested in looking at and he took us around for a few hours. The alternative is surfing rental listing websites like HotPads, Naked Apartments, NYBits, trying to sift through hundreds of ads that you hope aren’t fake and setting up appointments all over the map with different brokers? landlords? selling brokers? who knows. It is stressful and not ideal for someone who currently works out in New Jersey. With that being said, if you are in the ballpark range of somewhere between 2,000-3,000 a month for an apartment that would mean you’re shelling out an additional $3,600-$5,400 at the end of the process for the broker. A lot of people don’t factor this cost in until it’s too late and then they panic. Make sure that if working with a broker is something you want, you decide early on. You can look at no-fee apartments if you choose, but realize that you have now opened the competition up to a much wider pool of applicants. No-fee apartments go extraordinarily fast and most times you have to say “yes” on the spot. Also, keep in mind that if you decide not to use a broker you’ll probably end up paying anywhere from 10%-15% one way or another because there most likey be a selling broker on the other end of the transaction, even if you go an appointment sans buying broker.
2. The cost of labor and physically moving all your shit.
If you have a treasure trove of strapping young men and women to assist you with packing, moving and hauling all your shit up a fourth-floor walk up than you are truly #blessed. However, for the rest of us, that is simply not the case. Hiring professional movers is essential if you have a good deal of furniture that is going with you and if you’re on a tight timeline. This can easily cost you hundreds of dollars, depending on how many movers you need, and how many hours you need them for. This is something I confess I did not budget for, and approached it with the same carefree attitude that I did when I had to move my ass in and out of dorm rooms in college – I’ll make it work. The difference now however, is that I own more than a hot pink IKEA bed set, corkboard of inspirational magazine clippings and patterned baskets full of toiletries and notebooks. Yikes. Now is the time to consider moving like the adult you are and going with pros. Your back will thank you.
3. Application Fees.
“If you guys are interested in this unit just let me know and i’ll need a $100 application fee and a $1,000 good faith (returnable) deposit.” I don’t know if I am alone in this world but I was completely oblivious to having to pay an additional application fee of around $100-$150 that’s required to even submit paperwork. Again, not a HUGE expense, but one of the small frequent payments that start to chip away at your soul and deflate the ~mOvInG tO nYC~ balloon of happiness.
4. Non-refundable pet fees.
This expense seems especially painful in light to everything you’ll be paying for at the moment of moving. You pets should be a source of undying warmth and happiness and suddenly you’re slapped with a fee for having them in your presence. Personally I don’t have a pet in tow, but I’ve heard that the amount landlords require you to pay is all over the map. Sometimes it’s a one-time fee that can vary depending on the pets size, other times it can be a small monthly charge for having them. Either way, it’s a unexpected fee that can be a burden on your wallet
5. Having a significant amount of cash up-front.
In addition to application fees, you’ll also be required to fork over a “Security deposit” or the last month’s rent. So now you’ve got to cover roughly $4,000-$6,000 (again ball parking from the $2,000-$3,000 monthly rent range) right off the bat PLUS the broker’s fee. We’re now at around $7,600-$11,400 in cash, to be paid ALL AT ONCE. And, oh yeah! You’ll also need access to $1,000 in cash for a good faith deposit that shows the landlord you’re serious about renting. Totally refundable but still, one has to actually possess this cash and feel comfortable parting with it temporarily. When I first began planning the move and searching for an apartment, I set aside a couple months’ of rent money to begin building the cushion I would need to move which provided me with some small peace of mind. The rule of thumb is to not spend more than a third of your income on rent, so that you aren’t siphoning away all your money on putting a roof over your head, and you’re leaving some $$$ for you know, Water. Cable. Groceries. Electric. The essentials.
I’m sure that by the end of this process I’ll be wiser and more cynical about the whole idea of finding the dream apartment on a budget in NYC, but I’ll be continuing to share my insights here in hopes that I can make the process more enjoyable and less scary for another girl trading in the ‘burbs for the ~bIg ciTy~.