New York Housing Struggles + Tips!!

It was supposed to be the greatest summer I’ve ever had, but summer 2017 is quickly becoming a test of wits, patience, and determination.

During the spring semester, I embarked on the usual round of recruiting for summer internships in the hopes that I’d finally land my dream position: an NYC marketing internship at a big media company. I got an offer from Viacom to join their International Marketing team this summer, so “She shoots, she scores!” 😏 hehehe…

I was ecstatic. Except for one thing: the salary was significantly lower than my offer from AT&T and didn’t include a relocation stipend. Since I’d be living in New York, money was a major factor despite me not wanting it to affect my decision. The contrast in pay was stark, but the contrasts in job responsibilities and company culture were not nearly as disparate. It was a tough decision to make given all the factors to consider, the pros and cons to weigh, but ultimately I took a risk by accepting Viacom’s offer. I took the lower pay in exchange for my desired internship experience (even if that meant saying goodbye to a likely full-time offer from AT&T next year).

Now that I’m here in NYC, I’m regretting my decision a little bit. Not because of the company or the job—I actually haven’t started work yet—but because of the struggle that is living in New York. Finding housing is extremely difficult. Scratch that. Finding affordable housing is extremely difficult. Actually one more revision. Finding affordable housing in New York is nearly impossible.

That’s not new information—and I knew it going into the summer—but I never expected being in my situation right now. I’m living in a faraway neighborhood in Brooklyn with 7 other people in the apartment; 4 girls (including me) in one room, 4 guys in the other, 1 bathroom, and a kitchen. It’s a mess. And I got myself in it by being desperate for a cheap apartment and searching on a time crunch.

Let me walk you through the utter disaster of my housing search.

  1. Spent weeks messaging people on Facebook, Spare Room, and other rental sites to find a summer sublease that was under $800/month.
  2. Video chatted with several people to do virtual tours of the apartment and get to know the roommates.
  3. Thought I locked in on a cheap place in Jersey City that would cost $650/month for a private room in a 3 bed/1 bath apartment.
  4. Messaged the subletter about the sublease while trying not to panic because move-in date was coming up and he hadn’t gotten back to me with a contract.
  5. Was told (after a lot of pestering) that I could no longer sublease the room because one of the roommates is no longer moving out.
  6. Frantically tried to find a new place for cheap and landed upon a too-good-to-be-true $450/month place in Brooklyn.
  7. Was led to believe it would be 4 girls (including me) in the apartment so I chose to sublease the shared room. I was down to the wire and about to fly out in 2 days so I was desperate, okay?
  8. Arrived to find an apartment of 8 people and immediately hated the place (and myself).
  9. Currently trying to find somewhere new to live and stressing out a lot. Like a lot.

And thus is my tale.

Tips for Finding Housing in New York

Don’t be like me friends. Here are a few tips for finding housing (especially summer subleases) in New York that I’ve gleaned from my horrible experience so far:

  1. Ask about the number of bedrooms/bathroomsnumber of people in each bedroom, and the number of people in the apartment. Be totally certain of the numbers!
  2. Find the closest subway stations to the apartment and check if they get you to work, school, etc. efficiently! The closer you are to a station the better, but it’ll also be more expensive!
  3. Get a place with A/C (if the summer) and heat (if the winter).
  4. Try to get a furnished room if you’re only there for a few months.
  5. Be clear about your desired dates! Summer sublease dates are all different depending on the person and the place so be flexible but clear.
  6. Ask about pro-rating (paying less than the monthly rent if you’re not staying the full month)!
  7. If you’re out of state, stay with a friend/couchsurf in the city for a week before locking down a place. This way you can view different apartments easily before making a decision. It’s always better to see the place and meet the subletter/landlord in person!
  8. Ask about laundry, utilities, grocery stores, maintenance, rent payments, and whatever else concerns you.
  9. Try to meet your potential roommates too!
  10. Find a roommate so you can look for places together and save on rent. If a landlord/subletter is looking to fill multiple spots, you’re more likely to be offered the lease/sublease if you’re in a group.

That’s all I have for now! I’ve got my fingers crossed for a couple of places I’m considering, so wish me luck. I’ll update you when I find a new apartment! 🙏

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