Space or Location? Hunting for a Home in Manhattan

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As summer approaches, those students who want to stay in the city are starting to hunt for apartments. (Photo Illustration Sara Azoulay/The Observer)

By Vincenza Di Maggio
Staff Writer
Published: April 20, 2011

Summertime is quickly approaching; soon-to-be graduates and students who want to spend their summer in the city will join the competitive hunt for an affordable and (hopefully) somewhat spacious apartment. The debate begins—space or proximity? Is it worth moving out of Manhattan for a bigger apartment and cheaper rent? We spoke to some Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) students who offered some tips and thoughts on apartment hunting.

To many students, location takes precedence over the living space itself.

“Living outside of the city takes away from the experience of being a New Yorker,” Adriana Perez, FCLC ’12, said. “New York City has so much to offer. What matters is what is outside your apartment door, not inside.” Perez is from Florida but will be staying in the city this summer.

Matt Anderson, FCLC ’12, who is also currently on the hunt for an apartment, said, “It is important that you really, really enjoy and appreciate the vibe of the neighborhood you live in. If you like where you’re living, the space doesn’t even have to matter. If you live in a neighborhood that suits your tastes, you’ll always have places to go eat, go out, get coffee, go shopping, etc.”

Anderson said that though finding an apartment in Manhattan is difficult, if you utilize your resources and are willing to compromise, it is not impossible. He said, “Make use of your contacts and people who have found apartments before you. Be open to considering different types of apartments with different space size/layout/costs to see what’s out there.”

Anndrew Vacca, FCLC ’11, is one step ahead of the game. He has already moved off campus into an apartment only 12 blocks away from school. “I started looking on Craigslist and was just diligent about following up on everything that caught my eye. If you are willing to put time into looking for an apartment, you will most likely find a really cool one.”

Craigslist, as well as BondNewYork.com, Citi-Habitats.com and StreetEasy.com, have proved to be reliable sources to use but Anderson warns against websites such as BestAptsNYC.com that are “not legitimate.” He said, “They haven’t updated their listings in months, and the broker didn’t even bother to read my application.” It is important to know that some brokers charge a fee. Once you have searched a listing and found an apartment you like you will have to contact the broker to set up an appointment to see the space.  If you choose to rent the apartment, once you sign the lease, you will pay the broker fee (15 percent of the annual rent), if there is one.

It is never too early to start the apartment hunt process. Even if it is too soon to start looking for a place, Ashley Louszko, FCLC ’11, said, “There are things you can do in the pre-search stage. Make sure you and your roommates have all your documents ready before you find the apartment you want (pay stubs, tax returns, a letter from your employer, photo identification, reference letters). If you are looking to live in Manhattan, assume that you will need a guarantor who makes about 80 times the rent. You should ask someone who is willing to be your guarantor weeks in advance so that you can give them ample time to get their documentation ready. Don’t leave it for the last minute. Even if you have the money to put down, having a guarantor to sign off on the lease can make or break the deal.”

Hillary Reeves, FCLC ’11, has lived in apartments in Brooklyn and Queens but is now looking for an apartment in New York City.  She said, “Sure, you may get more space, but it’s not even a little bit worth it to live away from the city. You have to commute, can’t be around your friends and are so far removed from things.”

Reeves promised, “Finding an apartment in New York City is such a tumultuous process and is stressful for everyone, but in the end it’s worth it!”

Vacca thinks back to when he found his apartment and said, “It was a big deal getting away to my first own place. I liked the idea of something being mine instead of the school’s.”