By Gus Waite, Managing Broker, Station Cities New York

Why is renting in New York such a challenge? Because you are not alone. According to Bloomberg, ( more households are moving into Manhattan than moved out during the pandemic. This trend started in 2021 and has absolutely snowballed in 2022. Even though the percentage of workers in offices is still hovering below 40%, more people are moving to live in Manhattan than are leaving.  And at the same time, as the latest New York Times article notes, the supply of housing got smaller overall, just as the surge of returning and new renters go underway

What are your options?

People who moved out to New Jersey and rural New York are moving back, but also people with new jobs and a passionate commitment to the city that never sleeps.  As one young professional cited in the Bloomberg story said, “it’s the center of the universe” and, significantly, “when I was looking for an apartment, it was truly a full-time job.”  People are back, but rentals are scarce. Where to look and how to get your new home amidst the competition and the price wars? The answer is, get help. Landlords sold buildings and units when they emptied out in 2020 and now, in general, since so few New Yorkers are moving up and out (the exact opposite as happened in 2020), there are fewer units to choose among. It’s best to secure your own representation. You’ll pay a fee, but you’ll also increase your access to listings and the likelihood of finding a home and getting a lease at fair market value and standard terms.

Start by defining your maximum monthly rental budget and non-negotiables, and see what comes up on  You won’t find much in Hudson Yards, or Greenwich Village, or Williamsburg for below $5000 (or at all), but in great neighborhoods, you don’t know, there are great apartments and actual choices, for around $2200/month.  Like in Hudson Heights, a 10-minute express train ride to Columbus Circle. Only a local is going to be able to fast filter these options for you and identify where you can find lookalike neighborhoods to the name brands you know.

How to secure the rental you want

It’s time to complete the application. Want to get the apartment? Do the homework. Gather all the required paperwork, including your letter of employment, tax returns, bank statements, and letters of reference from previous landlords. It won’t hurt to investigate a guarantor service and be ready to activate if the landlord is looking for extra security. With a well-documented application, your agent can champion you to the landlord as the best qualified, most-turnkey option for their property. And if you really want to increase your odds, don’t move with a pet. Everyone loves a friendly animal, except a landlord who sees a potential problem and can move on to the next applicant. You can always pay a deposit later and get a new furry friend once you are moved in.