You’ve finally decided that you’re moving to NYC and now you can’t help but dread the unnerving yet exciting process of apartment hunting. While apartment hunting is always stressful, coronavirus has made it even worse. Well, don’t you worry. Because our guide to renting affordable housing in New York is here to save you. This is a really handy guide for all of you who’re wondering: “ugh, where should I start?”.

We’ve got your renting needs covered; from paperwork & documents, and from research to different online portals that’ll help you find studio apartments & affordable housing in NYC!

How can I find affordable housing in New York City?

Start apartment hunting a month to six weeks before moving to NYC. Research is vital in finding cheap and affordable housing in New York. If you’re moving from another city, spend some time to look at rental postings online to get an estimate of rent, space and neighborhoods. Some great platforms to find apartments and do research are Zillow rentalsListing Projects, and Streeteasy. You’ll have to do much of your apartment hunting online, because coronavirus has pretty much shut everything down.

You could also browse a variety of rental postings on private and public groups on Facebook. Additionally, explore Craigslist to find sublets or rental postings, and if you’re lucky, you might even come across Rent Stabilized Apartments too! Rent Stabilized places are hard to come by, but they are great and can save you from crazy price hikes and unfair landlord behavior.

“Rent stabilization is a form of rent regulation in New York that’s overseen by the New York state Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR). It is different, but related to, rent control. For an apartment to be rent-controlled, the same tenant, or a “lawful successor” of that tenant (i.e., a family member or spouse), needs to have been living in the apartment continuously since 1971. No new rent-controlled apartments are created. ”

– Curbed, New York

What’s an ideal time to find affordable housing in New York?

Fall and winter are the best seasons to move if you want to get affordable housing in New York! So, if you have the luxury to choose (consider it!), it could save you tons of money. Student internships and graduate programs start in summer, which attracts students to find accommodation in the city. This makes the New York City rental prices even more competitive. Typically, fewer people will be moving to NYC during the winters, making landlords more willing to cut you a great deal. We live in unprecedented times due to the coronavirus pandemic, which is unfortunate in all aspects except for one silver lining – the buyer’s market.

The coronavirus pandemic forced many residents to leave the city because of the ambiguity and large scale impact. This has led to many landlords willing to rent their apartments at a lower cost (this means we are in the buyer’s market and can essentially negotiate the price.) The coronavirus pandemic has also opened sublet options because of many students moving back home. So, a good relationship with your subletter could land you an excellent deal. Use this opportunity to stay in the city while finding your dream apartment.

Conclusion: Offseason and unpopular times mean cheaper rent.

Related: Renting in Los Angeles: Part 1 – The Search Guide

Paperwork & finances before moving to New York

When you’re moving to NYC, money flies. It’s advisable to plan all your expenditures & paperwork well in advance before you move to the city.

Roomi advice: It’s recommend to keep your rent money separate from the rest of your expenditures.

So how much should you keep aside?

If you’re moving to NYC, prepare to save at least $3,000 before renting your accommodation. That might seem a little expensive, but that’s just how much affordable housing in New York is going to cost. Depending on your needs and outgoings, this amount may vary. Still, New Yorkers (or renters in any high-demand markets) must save 3-4 months of rent before moving.

Rental Structure PriceWhat is it?
Application fee$20A fee that all potential tenants pay to submit their applications for the landlord to review.
Security deposit$2000A good faith deposit along with the application fee. If your application is denied the deposit is refunded.
First month’s rent$2000If your application is approved, the landlord keeps the deposit and requests the first month’s rent.
Broker’s fee$3600Most broker fees include one month’s rent and 15% of the annual rent. * insert palpitations *

Note: The New York Department of State released guidance specifying that landlords will now have to pay broker fees in New York City, not the tenants. However, the landlords are the little lords of NYC, so this rule also means that the broker charge may be added to the main rent of the house by the landlord. We know finding affordable housing in New York might seem impossible right now, but hang in there! Because your dream NYC apartment is just around the corner!

What’s the income requirement?

“Most landlords look for 40-50 times the rent. If you are looking for a $3000/month apartment, then you must make $120,000 to qualify. If not, you must have a US guarantor that makes 80 times the rent. If you are sharing with roommates, then most landlords will combine the total.”

Sabina Sangha, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at Compass

Apartments in New York are rented out in the blink of an eye, so as a renter you have to be on your toes to grab your desired apartment before it’s gone. Affordable housing in New York is hard to come by, so be prepared to fight for it (Not literally, of course)!

Roomi Advice: Carry your paperwork & documents when visiting open houses and reach them at least 15 mins before. Because if you like a house, you need to be prompt in submitting your paperwork and your security deposit.

Paperwork & Documents Personal Documents
Proof of income: Letter of employment, offer lettersScanned Photo ID
CPA letter for verification of self employment (for self employed)Mock Application
Last 2 years of tax returnLetter of Recommendation : Landlord(preferably) or roommates
Last 2 paychecks/pay stubsBlank checks (in case you like the department and want to give the deposit upfront
Last 2 months of bank statements
Credit Score

D’you know what else Roomi does outside of helping its readers find affordable housing in New York during coronavirus pandemic? With our ever-increasing lists of rooms and roommates across the world, we help you find your perfect match! Download the app here and hop on the easiest ride home, ever!