How to Get an Apartment in New York Without a Job

Ruth Shin

RENT

Chelsea

If you’re one of many who’s decided to move to New York with nothing but a dream, you may be discovering that it’s harder and more overwhelming than it in the movies. For starters, acquiring an apartment requires a lot more than a desire for it. If you're already living in New York City, you know that landlords do not muck around and you need to prove that you are “good for the money”.

Not having secured a job or having started working at your new job can be a stumbling block in the apartment-hunting process. Here are a few ways you can make the impossible possible.

Give Yourself Extra Time

If you're already renting an apartment but your lease is coming to an end, you should ask your landlord if you can stay on a month-to-month basis. Many landlords are fine with this arrangement, especially if you are proposing this during the low season months (October-March) because they'd like to bring the lease cycle closer to the peak season. This should buy you extra time to look for a job and eventually save money for your move.

If you've just moved to the city, you're best money-saving bet is to stay with friends or family.  An alternate idea is to stay at a hostel. Not all of them are low-cost, but you can compare rates on a site like Hostelworld.com. Of course, pricing will depend on the time of year you are booking. Be informed that for the most cost-effective options, you may need to share a room with other hostel guests.

However, you can also try renting a room through a site like Airbnb (being aware that New York City has strict laws about people using services like Airbnb to rent out their apartments). Do your research carefully because you might be able to find a better deal using this method. 

Have Good Savings

One of the things a management company or landlord will be looking at is your past income and your current earnings. You’ve already set a positive foundation if you can show good earning from last year as it will also show that you are capable of holding down employment. If you aren’t earning anything presently, an immediate boost would be to show your balance in your checking and/or savings account. Hopefully, you’ve been making fiscally smart decisions and you have plenty of liquid assets in the bank.

Having around six months worth of rent in the bank may seems like a lot, but to a landlord it only appears that you’ll be able to sustain yourself for two months at the maximum, so make sure you can show substantial savings or a signed employment contract or letter showing that you will start working in the next month or so.

A Great Credit Score is a Plus

FICO Credit Score

Great credit is always a huge plus in your profile for a property owner’s consideration. Having a good credit score shows that you are conscientious in managing your finances and that you not only pay your bills on time, but you do not spend beyond your means. Even if you show a small deficiency in earnings, most landlords will be more willing to let that slide if you have great established credit. Those with exceptional credit scores usually exemplify that they will get their bills paid no matter what.

However, be aware that the longer your credit is established, the better. Some property owners may make a distinction between those with new credit or with just one credit card and those with long-established credit and multiple accounts, even if the score is the same.

Paying a Few Months Upfront

Another way to skirt around the job issue is if you are able to pay extra securities or extra months of rent upfront. Most property owners will not fret if you wish to pay the entire year upfront. Your income will have very little bearing on your application if the landlord is already receiving the entirety of the year’s rent (remember that the security deposit is still required in case there is any damages or issues with the apartment during your occupancy). 

Likewise, agreeing to pay five to six months of rent upfront could also be a big help. Just be cautious with this approach because some landlords may want this rent money to apply for the last five to six months of the lease, so you’ll need funds to make it through the beginning of your lease. 

Getting a Guarantor

If you’re not able to pay any money upfront, it may be time to turn to your social network for help. Either a parent, a close relative or a friend may be able to help you out by guaranteeing your lease. Make sure your chosen guarantor makes at least 80 times the monthly rent on an annual basis and has excellent credit. Your guarantor will also need to fill out an application and hand in the financial documentation. Some management companies or brokerages may charge a higher fee for this application.

Find a Roommate

Sharing the cost of an apartment will seriously ease the financial burden, especially if you don’t have a job yet. If you already have some money saved up but it’s not enough for the entire apartment, then have one roommate or more can definitely up your financial standing. Instead of looking for a one-bedroom apartment for about $2,800 a month or more, you can be looking for a room in a three-bedroom apartment for about $900-$1,500 per month per person. 

Hopefully, your roommate or roommates have jobs. This doesn’t mean you should fall back on the rent because they’ll sustain you. Afterall, they could always just look for a new roommate--one that will pay their rent. Just remember, that if your profile is looking a little weak, the landlord can still ask all three of you for an extra month at least signing, so make sure you’re looking in the correct price range or looking for an apartment with a room price you can live with.

Find a Job

This seems to be a given, but many people hold out for that dream job or the job they think they deserve. If the bills need to be paid, you need to make rent, and you haven’t found a job in months, take a job that you don’t love. Even if it isn’t the ideal industry, ideal wages, or ideal hours, you do need to take care of your finances. You can always look for the job you actually want while you are working. Showing a prospective landlord that you have secured employment is the best way to land the apartment.

Search for your next home based on a credit score.

Search