Moving to NYC: The 5 Most Important Rules to Know

You're coming to the Big Apple: congrats! While this isn't a blog all about tenant's rights, we've got the 4 most essential rules to keep in mind when making the move. Start here for the foundational information about moving to NYC.
Ross Sapir
By Ross Sapir
Min Read

Moving to NYC is complicated. It doesn't have to be hard, though. If you come prepared, you'll be able to make the move totally smoothly, and these 5 points will help you start that process of preparation. We're not here to bore you with pages and pages of detail, but these are some of the things every New Yorker keeps in mind. Read on for help on making the move to the Big Apple.

Let's Go:

1. The 40x Rent Rule

This is not a joke. The 40x rent rule is one of the only real "rules" you'll find in this article, and the only one every New Yorker knows and cares a lot about. These days, it's textbook that landlords will require tenants to prove that they earn at least 40 times the monthly rent per year. If your studio costs $2,000 a month, you've got to be making 80k. This is where roommates come in handy. In New York, this requirement really dominates the apartment-hunt process, and although it's totally crazy, it's, unfortunately, the way it is in NYC these days.

If you yourself don't make 40x your rent, there is another way to land that spot you've had your eye on. A guarantor is someone who will cover your rent, like a parent or other relative. They can apply to an apartment with you, and the landlord will review their financials when considering your application.

Keep in mind, though, that guarantors will need to prove that they make 60-80x the monthly rent, depending on the building, rather than 40x.

2. Have Solid Credit

Along with the 40x rule, the only other major requirement you've got to meet when moving to NYC is having good credit. When you apply for apartments, landlords will ask for proof of the 40x, the first few pages of your most recent tax return, some pay stubs, proof of employment, and your credit card information so they can run a check on your credit score.

Landlords, of course, will all have different requirements on this front, but they tend to understand that we're all human. They're human, too, and they understand that we're all in New York to hustle. If your credit score isn't a 700, you'll still be able to find a way to land some digs in NYC. But definitely keep this one in mind as you're looking for a spot.

3. StreetEasy's the One

This isn't a rule, of course, but every New Yorker knows that StreetEasy is the best place to find an apartment in the city. It's NYC-specific, unlike other apartment sites, and makes it extremely easy to search for places with a lot of detail. It's also a great idea to set up an account on their website, because you'll then be able to get emails with updates related to your recent searches as they're posted by real estate agents. 

In a recent article, we recommended going neighborhood by neighborhood on the map on their website, because that's the best way to figure what prices pop up most in certain neighborhoods and where you know you'll be able to afford to live. 

Once you find a place you love on the website, StreetEasy makes it extremely easy to contact the real estate agents, set up a tour, and sign the dotted line. When you're looking for an apartment in NYC, remember that StreeEasy's the place to go.

4. Create a Budget, and Stick to It

Creating a budget for living in and moving to NYC is no easy feat but here are some top tips to keep in mind: 

  • Don’t pay more than 25% of your net income for rent, and that’s after you’ve paid all other monthly bills. 
  • Spend no more than 10% of your monthly income on food.
  • Spend no more than 5% of your monthly salary on commuting, whether that’s train tickets, taxis, Ubers, or fuel, parking, and car insurance.
  • Watch your spending on entertainment and clothes for the first few months until you get into a groove.

Remember a little savings can go a long way—so try to save for a rainy day.

5. "Pivot!"

We've all watched Ross Geller yell "Pivot!" in Friends, and that scene captures moving day in NYC pretty perfectly. While this is by no means a rule, it's important to keep in mind that when it comes to moving day, you've got to commit completely and go for it until the day's done. Do whatever you have to do to put your life between those four new walls of yours: schedule a time to use the service elevator with your building if it's got one and bring as many friends along as possible. And, if you want the process to be completely stress-free, hire a full-service moving company like us!

You don't want to disturb the peace too much on your first day, but you should remember how exciting this new step is and throw yourself into the process with total focus. Don't be afraid to yell "Pivot!" on the day, and before you know it, you'll be settled in your new place and ready to start your new life.

Before You Pack Your Bags…

Check out a few of our other blogs. We've got everything from tips on how to keep your treasures safe during the move to ideas about how to make your first night in your new place amazing. We're always here to help you make the moving process easier and more enjoyable. If you're in NYC, LA, San Francisco, Miami, or Philly, reach out anytime, and we hope to see you soon!

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