16 Things Only New Yorkers Know About Apartment Hunting

iStock/Hafizov (edited)
iStock/Hafizov (edited)

There are few things more precious to a New Yorker than their apartment. And not even because our apartments are awesome. For the most part, they are not. We love them not for the astronomical number of dollars we spend to live in them, nor for the fact that if you reach out of bed you can flush the toilet. We love them for the very real-life, blood-, sweat-, and tear-soaked version of The Hunger Games we went through to find and secure them.

These are the things only New Yorkers know about apartment hunting. Game on.


1. It’s near impossible to find one

The vacancy rate in New York hovers around 1%, and could be even less depending on the time of year/neighborhood. The national average is 10%. When people move here, they move here. Basically good luck.

2. You need to make 40x your rent

FORTY times your monthly rent.

3. Your guarantor MUST. BE. LOADED.

Should you not make 40x your rent, no worries! Your landlord is TOTALLY WILLING to accept a guarantor... assuming he/she lives in the tri-state area and makes a cool 80x your rent. Easy.

4. Credit score means EVERYTHING

“Credit holds a lot of weight in this city, no matter the blemish,” says Rory Bolger, a broker with Town Real Estate in Manhattan. “Let’s say your income is 10-15k under 40 times your rent, but your credit is stellar -- they will add that weight in. But if your credit has some dings, even if they aren’t so bad, that’s a different story.”

5. You will never have enough closets

Even as you make more money and move into a bigger apartment, you will inevitably accumulate more stuff. Closets, much like central air and new appliances, are a luxury.


6. Outdoor space is the be all, end all

Finding an apartment with outdoor space, even if that means just a fire escape (which it probably does), ensures that you will live there for pretty much the rest of your life.

7. Windows in the bedroom aren’t necessarily a given

And speaking of luxuries... your bedroom technically might not even have a window. Probably because it actually is a closet. You’ll take it, though, and will probably pay a lot for it.

8. Your kitchen is a joke

You don’t even know the meaning of counter space anymore and a stovetop with two out of four working burners is considered a success. But it doesn’t matter anyway because you have a personal chef named Seamless.


9. Just because a place doesn’t list “rooftop access” as an amenity doesn’t mean it’s not true

We guarantee you that “Alarm Will Sound” sign is pure decoration. One of your neighbors probably disabled the alarm years ago and your super just hasn’t bothered to check.

10. That $700/month East Village one-bedroom on Craigslist doesn’t actually exist

Wait, it doesn't, right? Right?!? (Right.)

11. Your rent will be cheaper if you give up all the privacy

A luxury one-bedroom EASILY converts into a two-bedroom at a much more affordable rate... you know, if you’re willing to put up a fake wall that legally is not even allowed to go all the way to the ceiling or have a real door. But if you’re into voyeurism, you can totally live on 14th St and not go broke.


12. “Cozy” means the shower is also in the kitchen

You’re gonna sign for it anyway. 

13. There is no such thing as a “no fee” apartment

Hahahahhaha. But you’re cute for trying.

14. Apartment hunting in the summer is THE WORST

And not even because it is hot as balls. New York City rents are at their highest in the summer. If you’re apartment hunting, Bolger says December is your best bet/the time you most want to be apartment hunting.


15. A broker WILL take all of your money... but you don’t really have a choice

This is especially true in Manhattan, but as the outer boroughs keep expanding, even they're not safe. Apartment hunting in New York is, like we said, near impossible. But a broker will do the groundwork for you... so long as you fork over 15% of your annual rent.

16. All of your money will go to your apartment. All of it. And you will get nothing.

But you accept this. Nothing in a NYC apartment is perfect (except that it is in NYC), so you have to understand that something (everything?) has to give. But you live here anyway and it really is amazing.

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Meagan Drillinger is a freelance writer at Thrillist. One time her bathroom ceiling almost caved in. Her landlord seemed very relaxed about the matter. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @drillinjourneys.