A New Yorker’s Guide to Finding Apartments and Roommates

Steve Dean
Mar 23, 2015 · 5 min read

Over the past 5 years, I’ve lived across 15 cities as a professional dating consultant, matchmaker, and startup founder. Traveling constantly has led me to be in constant need of places to crash/rent/sublet. As a result, I now have a pretty good idea of how to rapidly find a new apartment or roommate anywhere. I spend the majority of my time in NYC, so let’s start there.

For starters, if you’re a first-time NYC renter, you may want to check out Bitter Renter, a fast (<5min) free service that brings you up to speed on important terminology, red flags, and paperwork requirements for renting in the 5 boroughs.

There’s a lot more complexity to NYC renting than most people anticipate. For instance, do you know the extent of the documents you need to get on a lease? The checklist below is not even the full list…

source: http://www.bitterrenter.nyc/

And when it comes to deciphering what type of apartment you’re getting yourself into, do you know the terminology being tossed around?

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source: http://www.bitterrenter.nyc/
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source: http://www.bitterrenter.nyc/

Knowing the terms, requirements, and common housing scams will definitely give you a leg up in your search.

Step 1: Clarify Your Details

I always see people post saying “Hey I’m looking for a roommate,” but that’s too vague and doesn’t enable others to quickly help you. Get your details crystal clear so you don’t waste people’s time. In every posting you put up, make sure you include:

—what you actually have/need (e.g., have 2br apt, need 1 roommate)
—price range
—lease length + start date
—preferred neighborhood*
—preferred # roommates
—pet preference (have 🐶, hate 🐈, adore 🐇)
—noise preference
—guest/friend visitation preference
—smoking preference (e.g., non-smoking preferred; or 😍🌿 | ☹️🚬 )
— link to listing (if available)

*Here are two handy guides for understanding which neighborhoods in other cities are most similar to NYC neighborhoods.
1. http://www.themorningnews.org/article/new-york-elsewhere
2. http://overstated.net/2007/02/01/san-francisco-guide-to-new-york-neighborhoods

PROTIP: Curious about what other variables might be important? There are lots of roommate preference checklists available online.

Step 2: Post to Relevant Groups & Pages

Facebook is seriously your best friend here. Use it well. Below are some groups and pages you should absolutely post to. Even if you’re not in NYC, just about every city has its own Facebook groups built around helping people find roommates and housing, so just do a quick search within your city!

NYC General
Rooms & Roommates in New York City
Apartments For Rent New York City
New York City Sublets
NYC Living: Sublet, Share, Rent
Sublet | Share | Rent
NYC: Roommates Needed/Wanted
Brooklyn Apartment Rentals
NYC Sublets/Medium-Term Rentals
Classifieds — Apartment/Roommate Info
Roommates NYC
Apartments & Rooms For Rent In New York
NYC Sublets & Apartments
Secret NYC

NYC Creative/Performer
Ghostlight Housing
Sublets for Gypsys
NYC Actor Sublet connection

NYC Queer
Queer Housing New York City

NYC Tech
Hackathon Hackers Housing

PROTIP: Facebook now lets you keyword search through others’ posts! This means you can literally type “NYC roommate” into the FB search bar and it’ll show you the posts about “NYC” and “roommates” from everyone you’re connected to — this is totally invaluable in your search.

Step 3: Search on Sites & Apps

These are all my current bookmarked services for searching and comparing properties, listings, roommates, and temporary shelters:

For Apartments/Roommates

Flip.Lease — Easiest way to sublet or get out of your lease
Remy — Get matched to NYC apartments, OkCupid-style, before they hit the market
Perfect Strangers of NYC — personalized roommate matchmaking by NYC-based housing experts
Naked Apartments — Find NYC apartments for rent with quality photos, apartment maps, floorplans, reviews, and more
Roomi — Like Airbnb but for roommates
RoomMatchers — Personalized Roommate Matching
SpareRoom — Find NYC Roommates and Rooms to Rent in New York
RentSocial — Online apartment search platform, enabling users to find apartments through ratings and verified tenant reviews
FindWell — Finds apartments but also lets you explore neighborhoods and recommends things to do in each city
Cleardigs / LeaseBreak — Get access to housing opportunities before they go on the market

For Temporary Housing / Short-Term Rentals

Horizon — Travel and Stay with People You Trust
Common— Shared, community-style housing with flexible commitment
AirBnb — Rent unique accommodations from local hosts in 190+ countries
LiveLovely — Search and connect with rental owners from across the web

For Long-Term Rentals / Buying / Homemaking

RentHop — NYC apartments for rent, with photos, floor plans, full addresses
Streeteasy —Map + photo search of condos, co-ops, luxury lofts and single family homes for sale in NYC
Zillow — Search for-sale and rental listings, compare home values, connect with local professionals

A few additional services that might help:


Step 4: Know Your Rights and Save $$$

Most people HATE searching for housing in NYC because the market is rife with scams, scummy landlords, misleading ads, questionable photos, etc. A friend recently tipped me off to Yair’s Apartment Guide, a public-access google doc that helps you navigate things like brokers, agents, hidden fees, confusing lexicon (“flex,” “convert,” “no-fee,” “net rent,” etc.) and some extremely important FAQs.

Good luck! ☺

About the Author…

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I’m Steve Dean, an NYC-based online dating consultant.

I offer customized consultations to individuals who need help with dating & relationships, as well as dating sites who need help with product strategy and growth.

I like to write and podcast about dating, relationships, and how to get connected to awesome jobs, roommates, and events. If you’d like to keep tabs on what I’m working on, you can follow my Patreon page, or connect with me anywhere:

Patreon | Quora | Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram

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