A Texas Transplant’s Take on the NYC Housing Market

Let’s be real folks, finding housing in New York can be really stressful, especially if you are not from the area. As a transplant from Texas the housing market was a completely foreign and new experience for me and honestly I could have benefited from a blog like this.

This blog will cover the 4 things you need to know on finding off-campus housing. There is no science to the method of madness except for just madness….but when you do secure your housing and sign that lease it is one of the most amazing feelings you will ever have.

  1. Timing
    Traditionally, most people do not start looking for apartments in NYC until two weeks before they are supposed to move. Yes, I said two weeks. If you are like me, that short time span may freak you out, but it is just how the housing market works here. If you are looking for housing around Columbia University there is actually a good window of time to find housing. The best time to find empty apartments around Columbia is when everyone is leaving their leases…right around end of July and beginning of August. There are a lot of apartments and room vacancies in this time frame.
  2. Options and Finding Roommates
    There are many options to finding housing in NYC. What I am listing is a short list of what is all out there but there are many, many more. Columbia OCHA is Columbia’s Off-Campus Housing Assistance site. This site is actually great and credible for finding empty apartments, as well as apartments looking for subleasers. Another NYC option that locals use is Gypsy Housing. This is a Facebook page that you can Like and people and brokers will post apartments and vacancies. I know a few friends at SIPA who found an apartment through Gypsy housing. Lastly, SIPA has a form for other Seeples to find roommates and rooms. The form is really helpful for finding groups of people to live with.
  3. Unaccounted-For Costs
    Something else to keep in mind as you are shopping for apartments is unaccounted-for costs. For starters, most people find apartments through brokers. It is common for brokers to have a fee which is a certain percentage of the annual lease. This is essentially a variable cost since it varies from lease to lease. The broker fee is something you would pay upfront when signing the lease. Another upfront cost maybe a security deposit of the first and last month rent, which is something you may pay when signing the lease. There may also be a lease application fee that can sometimes range from $100-250 per person, this varies on the landlord and agency. When you consider off-campus housing, lease agreements may also request that future tenants make 40x – 90x the annual rent or have a co-signer that meets this requirement. You should not be alarmed by this, it’s pretty common in NYC. Lastly, know that tenants in NYC do not have to pay water as a utility bill. Standard utility bill is normally electricity, which includes heating in most cases, and then internet and other leisure utilities you and your roommates decides to add.
  4. Securing the bag!
    Once you have secured your lease, you have done 85% of the work and relieved a lot of moving anxiety!! You can now start to fill your space with furniture and feel good homey things. If you want to cut costs on buying brand new furniture, there is a Columbia Facebook page called Free and For Sale for Columbia students and you can find things at a fraction of the cost or sometimes for free.

Note from Admissions: Incoming students, want more off-campus housing advice? Register for our Off Campus Housing Webinar on July 11 through the Welcome Portal!