The Ultimate Guide to Renting in NYC 2023
The NYC rental landscape of 2023 is poised to look quite different from the one we’re leaving in the 2022 rear view. The pandemic created uncertainty for landlords in NYC as renters moved out of the city to find more space for themselves and their families. 2020 vacancies inspired 2021 rent deals and price cuts that allowed many renters to afford neighborhoods and apartments that would have otherwise been unavailable to them. As the world resumed to normalcy in 2022, more businesses reopened, workers returned to offices, and previous renters returned to New York City, net wealth in tow. Now, we find ourselves back in a congested and competitive rental market.
To secure a rental in NYC for 2023, it will require research, preparation, and good negotiation skills. It’s a ‘landlord’s market’ right now, with vacancy down -1% year-over-year and no growth in new inventory. To make your life easier and help you find your dream apartment, we’ve crafted the Ultimate Guide to Renting in NYC in 2023 to arm even the seasoned New Yorkers with important information to make this harrowing process a little less frustrating.
- How to pick a New York City neighborhood
- Make a list of non-negotiables
- How to get the most out of your budget
- To broker or not to broker
- The right questions to ask while searching
- How to secure your dream apartment once you’ve found it
Magnolia Terrace by Rove Travel, Williamsburg Brooklyn
How to pick a New York City neighborhood.
The first step is to know what neighborhoods are at the top of your list. From subway proximity to preferred vibe, there are a lot of factors to consider when picking your NYC neighborhood. To help you hone in, we’ve outlined an at-a-glance look at 10 of the more popular Manhattan options. Interested in Brooklyn, Long Island City, Queens, Astoria, Bronx, or Staten Island and Jersey? Check out our Guide to the Outer Boroughs.
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
Average Rent Price (one-bedroom apartment): $4,375
Subway Lines: 1, 2, 3, A, C, B, D
Nestled between the Riverside Park and Central Park’s western border, the Upper West Side is home to Manhattan staples like the Museum of Natural History, Tavern on the Green, Fordham, and the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts. Top Manhattan private schools make it a great neighborhood for families, while a myriad of bars and restaurants welcome young renters.
Neighborhood: Upper East Side
Average Rent Price (one-bedroom apartment): $3,826
Subway Lines: 4, 5, 6, Q, F
If you were drawn to the Big Apple by Carrie Bradshaw’s adventures, you’ll feel most at home in the Upper East Side. Museum mile, luxury shopping, iconic architecture, and Central Park East, this neighborhood is more residential and skews older in demographic.
Average Rent Price (one-bedroom apartment in Midtown East): $4,363
Subway Lines: A, C, E, 1, 2, 3, B, D, F, M, Q, N, R, W, 4, 5, 6, S, 7, LIRR, NJTransit, Amtrak, Metro-North, Path
Midtown can be broken down into Hell’s Kitchen, Midtown East, the Garment District and Murray Hill. But what they all have in common is in the central location and accessibility. A hub of business and tourist attractions in Manhattan, in Midtown you’ll find landmarks like the Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, Grand Central Terminal, Rockefeller Center, Madison Square Garden, Times Square and more.
Average Rent Price (one-bedroom apartment): $5,364
Subway Lines: A, C, E, 1, 2, L, Path
One of the oldest neighborhoods in New York City, the High Line is a perfect embodiment of the area: a 1.5 mile long elevated linear park on a former New York Central Railroad spur of the west side. Art galleries, converted warehouses, Chelsea Piers and new Hudson Yards bring modern art and culture to an area rich in trade and heritage.
Neighborhood: Union Square
Average Rent Price (one-bedroom apartment): $4,888
Subway Lines: 4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R, W
Union Square is a small, lively neighborhood tucked below Flatiron and Washington Square Park. It’s anchored by its namesake park that is home to the Union Square Greenmarket and iconic holiday market. It’s convenient subway access and surrounding high-rise apartments, big-name chain stores, restaurants, and office buildings make it a great place for young professionals and students.
Neighborhood: East Village
Average Rent Price (one-bedroom apartment): $3,695
Subway Lines: 6, L
Funky, full of dive bars, great food finds, and tons of college students, the youthful energy of the East Village keeps the creative spirit alive in this vibrant NYC neighborhood. A bit of a train-line desert, be prepared to walk a bit to the nearest train if you live further East in Alphabet City.
Neighborhood: West Village / Greenwich Village
Average Rent Price (one-bedroom apartment): $5,300
Subway Lines: L, A, C, E, 1, 2, 3, F, M, N, Q, R, Path
Washington Square Park, New York University stomping ground, historical landmarks like Stonewall Inn and the cobblestoned streets of the West Village, Greenwich Village offers charm, culinary excellence, and criss-crossed streets that are a pleasure to get lost among. Known for some of the best restaurants in the city, albeit small table counts, Greenwich is a haven of history and artistry.
Neighborhood: Lower East Side
Average Rent Price (one-bedroom apartment): $3,500
Subway Lines: F, B, D, J, Z
The scrappy spirit of the LES is reflected in its hole-in-the-wall foodie favorites, eclectic music venues, and trendy bars. Proximity to the Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges can create congested traffic, but is great for anyone wanting to bike or walk into Brooklyn.
Average Rent Price (one-bedroom apartment): $4,800
Subway Lines: 1, 2, A, C, E, N, R, W
A more family-friendly neighborhood, this hip area features industrial buildings converted into residential lofts, trendy boutiques and restaurants along cobblestones streets, and the iconic Tribeca Film Festival each year.
Neighborhood: Financial District
Average Rent Price (one-bedroom apartment): $3,550
Subway Lines: 1, 2, 3, A, C, E, R, W, 4, 5, 6, J, Z,
The skyscrapers of FiDi make up the iconic skyline Manhattan is known for. The southern tip of Manhattan and home to Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, the vibe is networking over neighborly, but a great option for young professionals in the banking industry.
Average Rent Price (one-bedroom apartment): $2,250
Subway Lines: 1, A, B, C, D, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
If you’re looking for rich music history and a sense of community, Harlem is for you. Largely residential but with vibrant nightlife and great access to Lower Manhattan, this neighborhood won’t be affordable for long.
Prospect Lane by Rove Travel, Carroll Gardens Brooklyn
Make a list of non-negotiables.
When sorting through the 2 million rental units across the five boroughs, having a list of criteria can help you filter down and save you time viewing apartments that won’t fit your needs. In New York City, amenities like bedroom closets, dishwashers, central air, doormen, and in-unit washer and dryer aren’t standard. If those are deal breakers for you, know that in advance. Do you need a space to work from home? Or for that Peloton you bought during lockdown? Calculate your desired square feet and bedroom count to make sure you have all the space you need. Already have an Equinox membership or are you hoping to exercise without leaving the building? Not all apartments are pet friendly. Seemingly trivial things like these can make your life easier in the long run when sorting through the long list of New York apartments.
Prospect Lane by Rove Travel, Carroll Gardens Brooklyn
How to get the most out of your budget when finding a New York City rental.
After you’ve identified your preferred neighborhoods, you can set a budget. A good rule of thumb for a rent calculator is approximately 25-30% of your post tax monthly income should go to rent. However, don’t forget rent money should also cover things like utilities, wifi, and in some cases renter’s insurance. To get the most bang for your budget, check out these tips:
- Search during slow season. Rent prices are notoriously high due to demand in summer months. June through September is the worst time to look for an apartment. You’re competing with college graduates, internships, and lease expirations. If you can brave the cold for viewings, you’ll start to see demand cool off and deals pop up around December to February.
- Learn the terms. Net effective rent is what you owe over the term of your lease, divided by the months that your lease is written for. Gross rent is the actual monthly payments. Apartments that offer free months to incentivize tenants can use ‘net effective rent’ to make the monthly payments appear lower than they are.
- Factor in renter’s insurance, utilities, and processing fees. While renter’s insurance is not legally required in NYC, some landlords may require proof of renters insurance as part of the lease agreement. The average cost of renters insurance in New York City is $23.50/month, or $282/year. The average utility costs in New York City are $273/month, which accounts for basic utilities such as water, electricity, and gas. This amount may differ depending on personal use and your lease agreement, but this number can give you a ballpark figure to work into your budget numbers. Are you paying your landlord in person, via check, or electronically? They can sometimes sneak in processing fees when dealing with electronic payments, so be sure to keep an eye out for that.
- Think long term. If you’re seeking an apartment to stay in for a while, finding a “rent-controlled” building is like winning the lottery. These are the unicorns you hear about where people are paying $1200 for a three-bedroom Upper West Side apartment. Not be confused with “rent-stabilized” where the city determines what percentage your rent will increase every year. Typically that percentage is around 1.9% and falls just below the national level of inflation. When the building is neither of those, the landlord has the ability to increase the rent by whatever they so choose, causing larger rent jumps when you want to resign.
- Prepare for the upfront costs. Application fees, first month’s rent, security deposit, and the infamous broker’s fee are all costs that you’ll need to have at the ready to get those coveted keys.
For more tips on managing your budget in the expensive NYC rental market, explore our blog on "How to Find a Short-Term Furnished Rental in NYC". Alternatively, if you're a business traveler, understand how to find the best solution for you by checking out this article on "Furnished Corporate Housing: A Solution for Business Travelers."
Magnolia Terrace by Rove Travel, Williamsburg Brooklyn
Navigating using a broker when renting in New York City
If you’re new to New York City, the concept of needing a broker to rent an apartment might be foreign, and seem unnecessary. You’re scrappy, right? The benefits to using a broker include access to off-market apartments, knowledge and organization of the right paperwork needed to secure a property quickly, and negotiation with landlords to get cheaper net effective rent, lease terms, and more. A trusted broker can help you avoid scams, management companies with poor reputation in the market, and save you time seeing apartments that don’t fit your budget, location, or amenity list.
When trying to find a broker, start with people you know. Referrals are the number one way brokers get business in a market like New York City. If you’re brand new to the city or aren’t having luck with a recommendation, take a look at a few properties you’ve identified as interesting and check the listed broker. Take a look at their reviews, ratings, and then give them a call!
Be prepared to pay the broker’s fee, which can range from 10-15% of a year’s rent, depending on the broker. A great way to suss out the bad brokers is if their broker’s fee is below that range. That can be a large amount of money, so going at it alone is always an option.
The right questions to ask when searching for a NYC rental apartment.
Given the anxiety, stress, and perceived time crunch of finding and securing an apartment in NYC, a common misstep is signing the dotted line without confirming a few things first, especially if you’re not working with a broker.
- Thoroughly read the lease terms. Just because you got a verbal agreement to replace or repair something doesn’t mean it will get fixed. How about cleaning before your arrival? That needs to be in writing as well. Other things to keep an eye out for include conditions for lease-breaking, utility fees, building accessibility, pet restrictions, and garbage handling.
- Get familiar with the building. Ask to see the roof, basement, boiler, etc. Getting to know the building can illuminate any red flags or building issues that might come up during your time living there. You can also research buildings in NYC to see if there have been complaints, violations, boiler issues, etc. to ensure there are no surprises after you’ve moved in. Did you know landlords are required to answer honestly about bedbug history. Not so lovely to think about, but an important history of the building to know about before nesting.
- Who and where is the super? Do they live in the building? When your water goes out at 5am before a big meeting or the fire alarm won’t stop beeping at 1am, you’ll want to have the maintenance team handy.
- What changes are you allowed to make? Oftentimes, renters will be willing to rent a less luxurious apartment if it comes at a cheaper cost, and then add their own personality and flair to spruce it up. Find out what changes you’re allowed to make before hanging art, painting any ways, or upgrading any finishes.
- Are you allowed to sublet the apartment? Life happens, and if you need to move for work or personal reasons, be sure your landlord allows you to sublet your apartment so you don’t have to continue to pay rent if you’re not occupying the apartment.
Your questions have been answered, the apartment checks all your boxes and your budget, and you’re ready to sign! The NYC rental market is competitive right now, these final secrets can tip the scales in your favor.
Red Hook Manor by Rove Travel, Brooklyn
How to secure your dream NYC apartment once you’ve found it.
Time it right.
Jason Hernandez, an agent with Douglas Elliman, says to start your search 25 days before your move in date. You want to make sure your viewing options that align with your target move in date, and with the speed at which the NYC rental market moves, 25 days is the magic number.
Did you know that applying to multiple properties at once affects your credit score? Landlords are able to view how many times your credit score has been run for housing, raising a flag for them that no one wants to rent to you. By ranking the apartments you’ve viewed and only applying to your top 3, you’ll increase your chances of looking appealing to landlords.
With an average market time of less than 26 days, having all your documents, fees, and credit score ready can make all the difference. While every application is different, here are a few things you should have at the ready:
- Employment verification letter, signed and on company letterhead
- Three most recent pay stubs and bank statements
- Federal tax returns
- Copies of two forms of identification
- Letters of personal or professional recommendation
Coming prepared with these, along with the upfront costs, can help ensure a smooth securing of your desired apartment.
The final step, have your bottle of bubbly ready for when you’ve got the keys in hand and can relax and enjoy your brand new NYC apartment.
If you’re new to New York, a great option can be short-term furnished rentals while you get your bearings and pick the right neighborhood, view apartments in person, and have the time to make the right choice for you without pressure. Rove has a variety of short term rental options in the most desirable NYC neighborhoods that offer the perfect place to land while you find your dream rental.
Understanding the different types of short-term rentals is essential. Learn more about 'What Is a Short-Term Rental' to make an informed choice.