This Is The Easiest Way To Find An Apartment In New York City

After three years in my Manhattan apartment, I decided not to renew my lease. Instead, on Feb. 1, I’ll be moving to Brooklyn.

In the big picture, this is a very exciting move. A new place! A new neighbourhood! A new chapter! But the nitty-gritty of moving in NYC is, well, nothing less than exhausting.

It’s hard to find an apartment that’s affordable and also in a good neighbourhood. It’s hard to find a place that’s big enough but is also near a train. You have to know what you’re willing to sacrifice and what your non-negotiables are.

Most importantly, you have to be ready to sign a lease after looking at a prospective apartment, like, 20 minutes after you see it. Why? Because someone else will take it if you don’t. There is no “let me think about it and call you tomorrow.”

In New York City real estate, there is no time for tomorrow.

But I was delighted when I found an apartment-search website called Naked Apartments. I found my future apartment within days of using the site. It was the most seamless experience I’ve had in the six years I’ve lived in Manhattan — and this is my third move.

Here’s how Naked Apartments works:

Let’s say, for fun, that my budget is $US2,500 a month (ha!). Right off the bat, Naked Apartments lets you select how many bedrooms you’re looking for, the neighborhoods you’re interested in (I chose a few in Manhattan for this demo), and the amenities you want (doorman, dishwasher, laundry in the building — I didn’t select any of these to cast a wide net.)

Click search and a list of corresponding apartments shows up. A map pops up next to it so you can see exactly where you’re looking — Craigslist often tricks people into looking at apartments by changing/manipulating the locations (like calling 165th street the Upper West Side), so with Naked Apartments you know exactly which neighbourhood you’re dealing with.

In my experience, I found an apartment that I liked and clicked through the listing. There I found photos and descriptions of the place.

There’s an option to contact agents through the site, and multiple agents are usually showing each apartment, so you can contact all of them at once. I received responses within 20 minutes.

When you do that, you get emails back almost immediately. There’s also the option to call the broker.

When I found the apartment I wanted, I called the broker and within an hour was standing in the kitchen of the apartment I had been looking at on the website. I was happy to see that the photos matched (you’d be surprised how many Craigslist ads put out fake photos of better-looking apartments to lure prospective renters in, and it gets very tiring trying to determine which listings are authentic.)

But what happens if the apartment ends up not being a perfect fit? You use Naked Apartments to build an anonymous profile — listing your income and credit score — and brokers with listings that match the criteria you’ve been searching for will contact you with other apartments that might match up. You can also exchange emails with brokers you enjoy working with and work with them off the site.

The brokers all come with ratings left by the site’s other users. 

It was painless, it was easy, it was fast, and it was the perfect way to bid farewell to hunting for apartments on Craigslist forever.

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