The Big Move: 5-Step Prep

Moving to NYC was no easy task, and having to do it while wrapping up residency made it even more difficult. But with excitement for new adventures, teamwork, and savings accounts, my boyfriend and I were able to do it relatively smoothly.

Before moving here, we lived in a college town with a two-story, 2 bed/2.5 bath. Our master bedroom had a den extension that was arguably as large as our current apartment. The second bedroom was a fully furnished with a bed, desk, TV, etc. for guests. Downstairs was a half bathroom, living room, kitchen, dining room. This apartment was larger than my house growing up.

Once I accepted my job in NYC at the end of April, the countdown clock was on to making sure the move was as smooth as possible. My company did not pay for moving expenses (never happening again), so we were truly on a budget. Also, budgets are relative in New York, so the more you can adjust to that, the less exasperated you will be.

I’ve whittled down our pre-apartment shopping time period into 5 Prep Steps. These steps continued after we signed our lease, but the mentality changed slightly so I’ll have that for you separately.

  1. Make A Spreadsheet
    • Simple yet effective step. I wanted a place where we could keep track of every part of the move because there were so many complex components to factor in. I’ve attached a blank version of the spreadsheet (with a lot of modifications) in case you wanted to have it to modify for yourself.
    • NYC Move <– Click here for Excel sheet
  2. Sell/Donate Everything
    • We had to attempt to get rid of more things than we were comfortable with in order to prepare for an apartment that was the size of one of our old bedrooms. It was a fine balance of what we wanted to sell and re-purchase when we to NYC, but I will say that 90% of the time the decision was to sell/donate.
    • Your car should also be on the sell list. You won’t need it.
    • We tried apps like LetGo and OfferUp but all we got were spam messages and people who lived an hour away. Our most successful method was through Facebook Marketplace. It’s quick turn around and you can look at profiles of people who are messaging you in case you’re suspicious.
  3. Determine Apartment Criteria 
    • My new boss told me real estate here is as different world, and it is true. Apartments rent fast and places won’t even come available until within a month of lease start. It’s almost as if part of the business is creating that quick turnaround stress. But up until then it’s research time! Figure out what criteria you want in an apartment so that as places come available you’ll be able to have your ranking system.
    • We used StreetEasy, TripleMint, and Padmapper to do research. We were able to use price point and neighborhood filters to breakdown the search. On StreetEasy, we were also able to save locations which sent notifications of rent price changes and when the apartment was leased. This gave me an idea of how quickly places were rented and even learned rent price fluctuation patterns
    • Our criteria were:
      • Direct metro lines to my new job. Knowing that we didn’t want to live where I worked, direct lines were the next best thing. This also helped narrow the neighborhoods/side of the City.
      • Within half a mile to a major grocery store. Thanks to friends and family who live in the City already, we wanted to live by a Trader Joe’s because that’s the cheapest food option here. My boyfriend and I like to cook, and this is essential to budgeting in the City.
      • Natural light into the apartment. We got south-facing windows which means we have light all day but never directly. It’s awesome. It was on a required part of the criteria because it seriously affects my mood!
      • One true bedroom. We wanted to have one bedroom as opposed to a studio to be able to have boundaries in our house for visitors. My boyfriend and I can also have different sleep patterns so if one wants to stay up late and keep watching TV they’re able to.
      • Up to three flights of stairs. The limit of any building to NOT have an elevator is 4 flights. We ended up with three flights because everything else met criteria plus bonus points (below). Oh well, it burns calories.
      • Bonus points: kitchen counter space, ceiling fans
  4. Book Apartment Hunt Trip
    • Allow for multiple days. We booked 4 days, which was just enough time for us – more details in the next part of the series. But if you have friends/family to stay with that would help tremendously.
    • Decide if you want to use a Broker. We went with a company called TripleMint and HIGHLY recommend it. Our broker was awesome and gave us such great service. More details again in the next part of the series.
  5. Save, Save, Save 
    • Signing an apartment is expensive. First month’s rent (some also do last month’s), application fee, background check fee, security deposit (ours was 1.5 month’s rent), and +/- broker fee (which we used) adds up. A lot.

Let me know if you found any of these tips helpful! And if you have additional pointers for others going through this process.

Up next in The Big Move Series: Our Apartment Shopping Tour

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