How to Rent an Apartment in NYC as a Student 

If you’re coming to New York City as a student, then you probably have about a million different things on your mind. You have to get your books and other school supplies in order, make sure you got into all the classes you wanted, and arrange for an inexpensive way to get all your belongings into the city. 

Apart from all that, you’ll need a place to stay, and while many schools offer on-campus housing, it can be extremely expensive and you often don’t get to choose who you’ll be living with. 

The dorm itself will almost definitely be small and there will be strict rules on how you can decorate it. 

Using school-approved housing isn’t a bad option, but finding your own place will give you a lot more flexibility. 

To get some tips on how to rent an apartment in NYC as a student, we interviewed Rodolfo Delgado, the CEO and co-founder of Replay Listings, a real estate platform that guarantees the accuracy of every listing, as well as any property photos and videos, through the use of sophisticated vetting processes. 

Delgado was able to give us a professional rundown of how to find an apartment of your very own while making sure you get fair and accurate information in the course of your search. 

Is it more practical for students to rent their own apartment or find housing via their school, or is this heavily dependent on the specific student and the school?

I’d say it’s heavily dependent on your expectations in terms of what your home will offer during your stay in New York City.

Big universities such as NYU and Columbia offer housing for students, but their limited amount of housing units makes it hard to get them. 

They also tend to lean heavily on security and regulations, so if you want a higher level of privacy, then renting an apartment might be the way to go. 

University-housing complexes are generally more expensive per ft2. They commonly offer spaces that are already furnished and even include WiFi and TVs, but the price you pay for that convenience is usually in the form of smaller spaces. Sometimes these spaces are so compact that two roommates laying on their own beds can touch hands by extending them sideways.

If you’re looking for bigger spaces and privacy but are willing to spend time and money furnishing the apartment, then renting outside of the university is the best option.

If you want to be able to “plug-and-play,” and you value the convenience and trustworthiness that a university offers, then you might want to consider finding housing via your university.

Are there certain neighborhoods or Boroughs that are more amenable to college students?

There are definitely trends and more desired neighborhoods for people with young energy looking for vibrant coffee shops or bars. 

Having said this, the location of your school tends to be the deciding factor. Columbia students tend to search in areas like the Upper West Side, Lincoln Park, and Hell’s Kitchen, given the location of their school.

FIT and Parsons students often search for areas like Greenwich Village, West Village, East Village, Stuyvesant Town, or Lower East Side, given that their schools are on the lower side of Manhattan.

It is essential to mention that when searching for apartments, no real estate agent should ever tell you that a neighborhood is predominantly “young” or “gay” or “rich” or “poor” or “white” or “black” or anything of the sort. That is called “steering” and is prohibited and illegal as it promotes segmentation. Fair Housing laws prevent agents and brokers from steering people away from or towards specific neighborhoods because of age, sex, sexual orientation, color, marital status, or veteran status.

If you’d like to know more about the neighborhoods you’re interested in, look for signs that might help you understand the energy there. For example, areas near universities will tend to have students living nearby. If you want to know more about crime rates in a specific neighborhood, you can ask the police or Google them. Do you want to know if a particular area is more or less “family-friendly”? Look around and search for strollers or schools. 

The best way to learn more about different neighborhoods is to visit them during the day and then at night. Feel free to ask your friends as well as people who live there. 

Does Replay Listings offer any special features for students new to the city?

We offer as much information as we can completely free of charge. I was an international student not so many years ago, and I understand the frustrations when it comes to looking for a place to live in a city as tough as New York. Because of this, I personally created two options for you to learn more for free: 

One is a podcast called “Renting an Apartment in New York City.” You can find it on Spotify or the Apple Store or wherever you listen to your Podcasts.

We also have a “Renter Starter Guide” available on our website

Also, many apartments listed within our app belong to agents who give discounts when you mention Replay Listings and show their student I.D or a screenshot of classes.

What is the most important thing for students to understand about renting an apartment in NYC?

It takes time, usually about a week. And you’ll need to complete steps that may take days, like opening up an American bank account or getting a guarantor. Take your time, gather all of your documents in advance, and, if you chose to work with a real estate agent, don’t be afraid of asking them as many questions as you want. 

Real Estate Agents have to be licensed in New York, and by law, they have to work with your best interest at heart. They have to answer any questions you have to the best of their ability and tell you the truth. Ask them questions, I can’t stress this enough. 

Are there any advantages to renting an apartment in NYC? Are there positive aspects of New York real estate? 

As I mentioned before, privacy and bigger spaces tend to be the most significant advantages of renting an apartment. Also, rental apartments tend to be unfurnished. Because of this, many students see an opportunity to showcase their personality with their chosen furniture or colors. 

Students usually tend to go to places like IKEA to buy furniture. But many companies rent furniture as well. Students can go to rental showrooms and pick out the furniture they like, all the way from beds to napkins and dishes! The rental company will then deliver everything to the apartment and pick everything up a year later. Ask your agent for a list of furniture rentals if you’re interested in this option. AFR Furniture Rentals and CORT Furniture Rentals are well known here in the city.