It goes without saying that New York City is one of the main destinations for all types of people from around the world. There are many reasons for coming- tourism, business, exchange programs, research, the list goes on. Nationalities from of over the world co-exist daily in the so called “capital of the world”, generating in this location a unique organized mess.
The bad news is that New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the United States. However, the companies offer good salaries and the city offers many activities that are free (or very low cost), if you know where to find them. During the warmer months you’ll be able to enjoy many events, concerts, movies and sports for free outdoors. In winter and with bad weather it’s a bit more complicated to make plans on a tight budget, but look out for great offers by museums and galleries (there is always a day with free admission, and others have a suggested entrance fee).
When it comes to housing, students and trainees should expect to live with some roommates, since living alone raises the cost quite a lot. Finding an affordable apartment in NYC is always challenging, but following some of our tips, you can find a way to make your stay more economical and enjoy your time in the city. Prepare some money in advance, because to enter in an apartment you will have to pay first month and another month’s rent as deposit. Some landlords ask as well for the last month in advance. A room in a shared apartment in Manhattan goes from $1,200 to over $2,000. For that reason most students and trainees stay in more affordable areas, connected to the city by the MTA public transportation (subway, train and bus).
- Upper Manhattan and the Bronx: still attached to Manhattan, areas like Washington Heights, Harlem or the lower part of the Bronx are a very common choice. Prices go from $800 for a room in a shared apartment. When living in the Bronx, try to stay in the lower part since it’s a safer area.
- Queens: Mainly the areas of Astoria and Sunnyside, very well connected to Manhattan, are also a good option to find and apartment, even more if you are into the arts, since many artists live in the area. Prices start from $750 or $800.
- Brooklyn: the western part of Brooklyn is as expensive as Manhattan, but if you search in areas like Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bedstuy), Bushwick, Crown Heights or Bayridge you can find great deals. Be aware to not go further East than that, it can be cheaper but less safe. Prices go from $850, and it’s very recommendable if you commute to downtown Manhattan.
- New Jersey: West of Manhattan and connected to it by trains and buses that arrive to 34th St Penn Station and the PATH in Financial District, New Jersey is a very economical option for those whose work is close to these points in the city or don’t dread a longer commute. The prices of a room in NJ start from $600, but you have to add the fare of transportation to the city, since it does not belong to the MTA system. You can find more about it in the NJ Transit website (https://www.njtransit.com).
Chef Training US advice!
For your safety and the safety of your money, we always recommend that our participants rent a temporary legitimate place (hostels, hotels, Airbnb rooms) during the first weeks, and search for your new living place once here. This will help you avoid scams and fake websites that show apartments which don’t exist and rip you off. Once in the US, make sure you have a signed contract for your room, and you get a receipt of every payment you do regarding rent and apartment fees.
Ask us about our apartment partners! We collaborate with a firm in NY that provides furnished rooms in apartments around the city, prepared for our participants.
Resources: where do I search?
- Craigslist: still the most common option in the city. There are a lot of scams, though, so always go to see the apartment in person before getting into a contract or paying any deposit. (craigslist.org)
- Gypsy Housing and Gypsy Housing NYC Facebook groups: although it sounds strange, a huge number of people find their room through these groups, mostly if you can’t sign a 12 month lease because you’re staying for a shorter period. There are some brokers but it’s mainly peer to peer. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/NYC.BK.Apartments & https://www.facebook.com/groups/GypsyHousingBrooklyn)
- Trulia: works pretty good for any city in the States.
- Padmapper: allows an easy search with maps and a lot of filters (https://www.padmapper.com/apartments/new-york-ny)
- Street Easy: it’s an app, although it has a PC version. It shows full apartments, not rooms. Perfect if you already know the roomies you are going to share with. (https://streeteasy.com/)
- Roomi: And if you don’t know the roomies yet, you can find roomies in this other app. You can also find rooms by someone who needs a roomie posts. (https://roomiapp.com/)
- Nooklyn: for apartments only in Brooklyn neighborhoods. You can also find roomies here (https://nooklyn.com/)
Don’t forget to check for…
- Public transportation: this is a big city, make sure your apartment is not too far from a subway station. You’ll regret being only able to get home by bus or walking more than 15 minutes from the subway station.
- Be aware whether utilities are or not included in the price. Electricity is expensive in NY. Try to avoid electric heating, it’s much more expensive than steam (hot water).
- Always ask if the building has had problems with bugs or mice and if they provide an exterminator. Many buildings are old and can have issues with cockroaches or mice if they are not well taken care of. Also ask about mold if you are renting a basement.