So, you’ve decided to get in the “New York state of mind” and make the big move to New York City? Whether you’re migrating from the suburbs of Long Island, upstate, or are a transplant from across the country, finding an apartment in NYC is a unique experience. If you’ve already read our blog on NYC apartment costs, you have some idea of what you’re in for rent-wise, but that’s only one part of this adventure. Keep reading to find out how to make it a successful one!

1. All NYC neighborhoods are not created equal.

Unless you’re limited to one area for some reason, you have your choice of five boroughs—Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island—and the plethora of distinct neighborhoods in each. When making your decision, take into account what matters most to you. A good school district? A vibrant nightlife? Convenient access to public transportation or accessible parking? A variety of restaurant options? It’s an important, but personal decision. It’s not uncommon for a listing to claim to be in more desirable neighborhoods in hopes of attracting renters, so consult a map before you get too excited.

2. Two words: Broker’s fee. 

A lot of new New Yorkers get sticker-shock when they go to sign their lease and see that nefarious 12 to 15 percent of the annual rent added to the total—a broker’s fee could cost you as much as $5,400 on a $3,000 a month apartment! Brokers do significantly decrease the amount of legwork in finding an apartment and many buildings won’t rent without one as a proxy. If you’re dead-set against paying a premium for this service, you can utilize Triplemint’s “open listings” and pay a reduced 10 percent fee, or search for a no-fee apartment through sites like Naked Apartments, NYBits, RentHop and Zumper.

3. Embrace the world of technology in your search. 

Skipping a broker? Gone are the days of scouring newspapers and bulletin boards for an apartment—now all you need is your smartphone and persistence! Pad Mapper allows you to search by map so you know exactly which neighborhood you’re really in. Nooklyn concentrates mostly on Brooklyn with a few Manhattan neighborhoods and gives you tips on the best neighborhood haunts for coffee or drinks. Joinery will connect you directly with departing tenants looking to sign over their lease—just be aware that you have to pay the departing tenant a 5 percent fee!

4. Don’t forget about your four-legged friends. 

Don’t take it for granted that your furry friend will be as welcome to the building as you are. Even apartments that advertise as “pet friendly” may institute limitations on size, weight, breed, and other factors, as well as require paperwork from your pet’s vet and testimonials on how well-behaved it is. If you are able to find a building that allows your pet, you may face an increase in rent or security deposit. Make sure you do your homework on a building’s policies before you fall in love with an apartment that isn’t Fido-friendly.

5. Make multiple visits at varying times. 

Sure, the neighborhood seems perfectly safe and calm at a 2 p.m. open house on a Tuesday, but what does a typical 9 p.m. on a Saturday look like? Walk around the neighborhood at varying times, check out the local food store and corner bagel place, and see if there is too much—or too little—police presence before deciding on a neighborhood.

6. ‘Tis the season for moving. 

They don’t call it “the concrete jungle” for no reason; in addition to NYC summers being uncomfortably hot, they’re also when rent is at its highest. Between recent college grads striking out on their own, future college students needing a place close to school, and landlords who intentionally sync longer 14- to 16-month lease cycles to renew in summer, apartments are in high demand during hot months. If you have the option, wait until winter to start your apartment search to take advantage of a far less congested market and potential landlord concessions.

Now that you’re an apartment hunting pro, you’ll need a place to store your stuff while you navigate the process or if your new pad isn’t quite big enough. Contact the experts at Gotham Mini Storage, the premier Manhattan mini storage provider— and move your belongings into a secure, climate-controlled unit today!