Finding an Apartment

Learn about your options before you rent a new place

Renting your first apartment is an important and exciting experience. It can also be really stressful, even if you’ve rented before. The City has resources to help you find an apartment and consider the options before signing a lease.


Getting started

Here are a few steps to take before starting to look for your first apartment.

Determine your budget
Knowing how much rent you’re able to pay each month is really important. Don’t forget to consider other expenses as well, like groceries, utilities, and savings. Check out the Budgeting page for help getting started.

Decide where you want to live
After you’ve determined your budget, start looking at areas where you’d like to live. Think about factors like distance from work or school, how safe you feel there, and whether grocery stores are nearby.

Roommates
Having roommates is a good way to lower your living expenses. Just make sure they’re people you can live with.


Ways to Find an Apartment

There are many ways to find an apartment in NYC. Check out some ideas below.

Real estate brokers
Brokers can help you find an apartment based on your budget and preferred location. They can also help you submit rental applications. Most do charge a fee, so ask up front.

Apartment finder sites & apps
From StreetEasy to Zillow to Realtor.com, you can use lots of sites and apps to search for an apartment. Most let you to narrow down your selection by entering criteria such as neighborhood, number of rooms, or price range.

Walking around
Some people still find apartments by looking for “For Rent” signs. It can pay to wander around the neighborhood you want to live in and see what’s available.

Checklist

When you find an apartment you like, be prepared in advance to apply.

  • Credit report: Most landlords want to run a credit check. Look at your credit report first and make sure it’s correct. Visit the Banking & Credit page to lean more about credit.
  • Fees & deposits: Find out exactly how much you’re expected to pay up front to secure an apartment. It might include first month’s rent, security deposit, broker’s fee, and other fees.
  • Read the lease carefully: Make sure you know what you’re agreeing to and confirm that all information is correct.
Read more about the new apartment checklist

Housing Assistance

Finding affordable housing in NYC is hard, especially when you’re just starting out. If you need rental assistance, the City offers programs that can help.

Public housing
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) provides affordable housing for low- and moderate-income people who live in NYC. Rent is based on 30% of your household income, and electricity and gas are often included.
Find out how to apply for public housing

Affordable housing lotteries
Affordable housing options are also available through a lottery, and new developments frequently seek lottery applicants. You can find listings and instructions for applying on NYC Housing Connect, and the websites for the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the NYC Housing Development Corporation. Housing options are based on your income and apartments are available all around the city.
Learn how to apply for affordable housing

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

NYC has laws for protecting renters against discrimination. Know your rights as a renter and report when anyone denies them.

You cannot be turned down for an apartment or offered terms unequal to other renters because of your race, gender, gender identity, disability, religion, or other protected category.

Report discrimination online or call 718-722-3131


Rent and Bills

With rents so high, sometimes you may need help paying your bills. There are programs for helping make ends meet.

Emergency rent assistance
The City has programs that may be able to help individuals and families facing a rent crisis. The Family Eviction Prevention Program and the CITYFEPS Rent Supplement Program can help eligible families with children who are on Cash Assistance to avoid being evicted.
Learn about other rent assistance programs

Utility assistance
The City offers two utility assistance programs: HEAP and the Utility Assistance Program. If you’re eligible, these programs assist you in paying for electricity and heat.

See which benefits you might be eligible for

Managing your first apartment can be expensive, but the City has many public benefit programs to help you cover the cost of living, including:

Use ACCESS NYC to find out if you’re eligible for 40+ benefits and programs.

Check your eligibility now