Rent an Apartment in NYC

New York is an expensive city to move to and live in. Living there on a budget is possible, but it takes careful planning. Part of that is deciding when to rent an apartment. Yes, the timing of your lease can significantly affect how much you’ll pay for housing for months and years to come. Renting in the correct month can lower your housing costs by hundreds of dollars per month.

So what is the best time to rent an apartment in New York City, NY? This post will help answer that question. Sometimes you have no choice about when to move, for example, when you’re moving for work or school. But if you can choose when your lease starts, then some months of the year are better than others. This post may be of interest if you are planning to move to NYC, or move to a new apartment within the city.

What is the Best Time to Rent an Apartment in NYC?

The cheapest time to rent in New York is winter. The warmer the temperature, the pricier the home, in general. More people move during warmer seasons. Summer months are the hottest moving time.

A study by RentHop found the best time to sign a lease is in February, the cheapest month to rent in New York City, NY. Rental rates begin to creep up in early May and are highest in July. Then rates start coming back down in October.

How much do rental rates change during the year? The study found that the difference between February and July is 5.4 percent for a one-bedroom apartment and 5.3 percent for a two-bedroom apartment. The average rent is $3,000 per month for a one-bedroom and $3,400 per month for a two-bedroom, so the timing makes a difference of $171 to $191 per month, or $2,050 to $2,292 per year. This is the highest yearly fluctuation in rental rates in the country.

The Best Time to Rent Depends on Your Situation

Although summer is the most popular time to move in to a new home, many people opt to move during the off-season, September to April. Apartments tend to stay on the market longer during these periods, so you may have more room to negotiate the rates or ask for concessions. Moving during the off-season may enable you to negotiate a lower broker’s fee. New York residents can pay higher broker’s fees, often as much as 10 to 15 percent of a year’s rent. This can add up to thousands of dollars. Renting in the off-season can also enable you to get a longer lease at a lower price. You can explain to the property owner that giving you a couple of months of free rent will end your lease, and make the unit become available, right at the start of peak season which works to the owner’s advantage.

The tradeoff, though is there tend to be fewer apartments for rent at these times. Generally, the availability of most apartments starts to rise in April, peaks in July, and begins to fall in October. During the winter, with outdoor temperatures as low as 20 degrees, most people prefer to stay put rather than move.

But off-season moving may not be an option for you. For example, college terms typically start in mid-August, so if you’re a student, you must move then. However, this also means many people seek roommates to share a home. This may be a good chance if you’re looking for one or more roommates to share the rent. Additionally, college terms often end in May, meaning more low-priced apartments may be available as students move out.

Moving in summer has advantages. During the summer, more people are moving. So there is more competition for apartments, but also more apartments available. Landlords often list new units during the summer because there are more renters. Whether you’re looking for a studio, a two-bedroom, or even a luxury penthouse, you’ll have more choices. And it’s simply more pleasant to go apartment-hunting in the summer in New York instead of facing the bitter cold and snow.

If you’re moving to or in NYC during peak season, you might consider working with an agent. You’ll have to pay for their services, but they have access to units that offer the best value, and can also help you negotiate the best rates.

If you’re moving for work or school, you’ll also want to consider the location. If you live too far from your workplace or campus, the cost and inconvenience of the daily back-and-forth commute will eventually grow tiresome.

Moving in Winter Can Yield the Best Deals, But Beware

Renting in the off-season or even in mid-winter can result in the best rates. There may be fewer apartments on the market, but rents are lower, and landlords are more motivated to make deals. You may get concessions like one or two months of free rent. Negotiations are most effective when the unit has been on the market for a while since the landlord loses money each day the apartment is vacant. In those cases, it’s best to have everything ready ahead of time so you can move quickly. Offering to move in immediately can save the landlord money, some of which they may be willing to share with you.

But also know that concessions are one-time deals. Landlords offer these to get you to sign a lease and assume that you’ll accept a higher rate when the lease renews rather than go to the effort and expense of moving again. This is particularly true for leases that renew during peak season; rates can increase five percent or more on renewal.

Start Looking a Month Ahead of Time

According to rental agents, the best time to start looking for an apartment in NYC is four to six weeks before your move. If you start looking earlier, you might risk having the unit rented to someone else, or the current tenant deciding to renew. Landlords typically receive moveout notices 30 to 60 days before leases expire and won’t start showing occupied apartments until 30 days before the lease expires.

The cheapest time to rent an apartment in NYC is February, as that’s when you’re likely to get the lowest rate. But renting during other times offers more selection. The best time depends on your situation and preferences. 

We hope you found this post, Best Time to Rent an Apartment in NYC useful. Be sure to check out our post, What You Need to Know Before Renting an Apartment in NYC for more great information.

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