This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.
Finding a place to live in NYC is stressful. You’ve got to find the right neighborhood, make sure the apartment is in your price range and close to subway transit, negotiate broker fees, and move at lightening speeds to secure the place you want. That process can be doubly difficult when apartment hunting with a significant other. To get the scoop on finding a place to live as a couple, I hit up my Naked Apartments co-worker Ken to share his experience. Here are some tips to keep your relationship from imploding under the pressure that is home hunting in the city.
Counting The Cost Of Your New York City Apartment
One of the biggest hurdles when apartment hunting in NYC is finding an apartment within budget. Most landlords require renters to have an annual income that’s 40 times the monthly rent. Do you have more options apartment hunting when you have two incomes?
This was one of the situations we had the hardest time with! While it’s true that you have a lot more options when you’re combining two incomes, you also have to take into account that your partner (or maybe even yourself) might be more conservative than the other. What I mean specifically is that one person might sacrifice a beautiful home to save more money. In our case, we definitely had a lot more options open up to us because of our combined incomes, and we didn’t have to worry about living/looking for randos (roommates) to meet the salary qualifications that apartments here in NYC have.
But I’ll say this, despite having two incomes finding a great apartment was still hard. There’s always that imbalance where one person makes more than the other, and while you want to be able to split everything 50/50 with your partner, it doesn’t always work out that way. Figuring out a budget with another person is hard because that little extra cash that one of you makes a significant difference when apartment hunting. In our case, the little extra that I contribute helped us land a pad that had all the attributes we were looking for in a dream home: location, close to the train, and an extra bedroom.
Deciding What Is Essential When Apartment Hunting
Did you have a list of things you absolutely couldn’t live without in apartment? What were your non-negotiables and how did you navigate around them?
Oh man, I didn’t really have any non-negotiables, but my partner had quite a few. I had never lived in a big city before, and my partner had already lived in NYC for about a year before we met up and decided to move in together, so she had a long list of things that she wanted when it came to our new home. I’ll simplify that long list into two things: no more than seven blocks from the train, and it had to be an updated apartment. Most apartments in the city and in the outer boroughs are pre-war buildings, so unless they’ve been renovated at some point or another, they have things going wrong all the time. My partner’s old apartment had outlets that didn’t work, a tub that barely drained (even with Drain-o poured in), and warped wooden floors.
Co-ordinating Style Preferences
Speaking of warped floors…NYC dwellings are notorious for “quirky” layouts and floorplans. Did your style preferences clash? Any apartments you loved, but your partner hated? If so, how did you deal with it?
I’d like to say no, but that would be a complete lie! I tried to be pretty easy going when it came to apartments, but she definitely wanted a place with good vibes, tons of natural light, and a homier appeal. Meanwhile I just wanted a place with central air conditioning. We clashed a bit due to that. We had found one apartment that she was in love with, and then one apartment that had central AC but she didn’t like all that much (bad vibes). We decided that the AC unit was worth it and had settled on the apartment that had it, but she wasn’t very happy about the decision. The place just didn’t give off the home vibes that she wanted. Lucky for us, and the fact that the universe intervened, the deal with the apartment we had settled on fell through, and we were able to go with the one that made her feel happy to be in.
So my advice to anyone about to go through this, or that are currently going through this – listen to your partner. If they aren’t happy with it; it’s not worth it. You have to compromise, yes, but if you’re like me and aren’t super picky then listen to what your partner is telling you. Finding the right home is important. We’re a year into our new home together and we’ve decided that it’s the place to settle down in. We’ve turned it into a home, our home – something that is very hard to do in a crazy city like NYC.
Sure, compromising is inevitable in relationships and sounds simple enough until you actually pound the pavement looking for a home. Be honest about what you’d like in an apartment and equally as clear about budget and non-negotiables before you start your search. Besides, you’ll want to dedicate the bulk of your energy to getting all the documents necessary to get through NYC’s grueling apartment application process, not arguing over wood flooring vs. carpet.
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Bio: The Zillow Group offers the leading real estate and rental marketplace through its sites Zillow®, Trulia®, StreetEasy®, HotPads®, Naked Apartments®, and RealEstate.com®. The company also offers marketing software and technology solutions for real esate, rental, and mortgage professionals.