Would it be bad to go apartment hunting while in still in the interviewing process?
May 19, 2011 7:30 PM   Subscribe

Would it be bad to go apartment hunting while in still in the interviewing process?

I've got a bit of a problem.

Im graduating from college in New York this week and I have just come off the second interview at a company I'm hoping to work for.

The issue I have right now is that I'm going to be going back home an hour and a half (longer with traffic) away in New Jersey after graduating.

What should I do as far as finding a place to live is concerned? I would hate to be in the position where I get the job but have no place to live. Also, I have no idea what my salary would be which makes apartment hunting even more impossible.

Additionally, it looks like I'd only be getting paid training through the summer before getting my full salary.

How should I proceed?
posted by inTikiwetrust to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Apartment hunting is not a bad idea. If you were to get to the later stages of the hiring process, you will DEFINITELY want to know what your base cost of living will be before you agree to a salary.

Don't put down a deposit before you've heard those magic words: "We'll see you on mm/dd/yyyy"
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 7:32 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't sign a lease, but looking around to get a sense of where you might want to live, and how much it may cost, is a good idea.
posted by COD at 7:36 PM on May 19, 2011

Do you have friends in the city you could stay with on work nights? I was temporarily living with my family in CT while looking for a job in NYC, and it was a two and a half hour commute - that was fine for coming in for interviews, but not great for daily commuting. Once I found a job, I couch surfed with friends until I found a place to live. I was looking for a month to month room rental, so it didn't take me very long to find something, and I had enough friends that I could spread out who I stayed with and not wear out my welcome. My backup plan if it took longer to find an place to live was to stay in a hostel instead.

But if I were in your shoes, there is no way I would try to find a rental until I had a job - you don't want to wind up having to pay rent for months with no money coming in. Also, if you're looking to get an apartment of your own, I can't imagine you could find a landlord willing to rent to you without a salary.

I did find it tiring to couch surf while adjusting to a new job, but it's definitely doable. I say better to get the job first.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 7:41 PM on May 19, 2011

Best answer: Ah, welcome to the joys of post-college/real life! When would you be starting your job?

I have never looked for a place in New York, but having looked for an apartment in Chicago -- which I understand to be a rather less competitive real estate market -- here's my two cents:

- It never hurts to go start apartment hunting to get a sense of what's out there and what is a reasonable price, particularly in a place like New York. The first couple of places you see you might think are fabulous steals for the price until you get a sense of what else is out there. I recommend Craigslist and just walking around the neighborhoods that you think you might be interested in living in. Brokers are good, but never feel pressured to sign on a place if you don't feel it is right. (After all, you're going to be living there. No second thoughts!)

- However, as you guess, it's going to be very hard, especially in New York, I think, to actually sign a lease on an apartment on your own without a salary. The rough rule is 40x, where they will want your yearly salary to be 40x the monthly rent/your share of the rent if you are going to have roommates. Typically landlords/brokers will require proof of income via paystubs before you can sign a lease. They also of course understand that if you're a fresh college graduate, you're not going to have paystubs, so they will instead ask for a formal offer letter stating your salary, which you will have of course after getting a job?

I think the other course of action would have to be that your parents (or other financially independent, responsible adults) would have to cosign on the lease, meaning that they agree to be financially responsible should you end up in arrears on the rent. This is of course not a feasible/ideal option for a lot of people.

- So this means, I think the best idea would be to sublet for the summer after you get your job, while you look for more permanent digs. Big cities with lots of college students (like New York!) are generally good places to find a sublet from a college student for the summer.

Yes, it's a pain to have to move in the fall, but this gives you somewhere to live for two months or so while you look for more permanent accommodation. Bonus is that you get to get a sense of the neighborhoods, and in (the likely) case you realize where you thought you wanted to live wasn't quite where you actually want to live, you can move and readjust.

(On a personal note, I think you're already lucky to be within a day's travel of the city! I had a week to look for a place in Chicago, directly coming from college graduation in New England and then heading back to the 'rents in southern California. Not so relaxing when I couldn't just pop back into Chicago to apartment hunt leisurely.)
posted by andrewesque at 7:42 PM on May 19, 2011

This is what the sublet section of craigslist is for.

As soon as you find out that you got the job, go look at some sublets. Choose the first one that you think might be vaguely acceptable, just so that you have a place to lay your head. Done and done. Or, hell, if you've got some cash, just take a cheap sublet before you get the job. I mean, either you're planning to move to New York or you're not. And if a job fails to materialize, you're only on the hook for a month or so.

You can start looking for your real home as soon as you know what your price range will be.
posted by Sara C. at 7:52 PM on May 19, 2011

The most improtant part of your story is:

Additionally, it looks like I'd only be getting paid training through the summer before getting my full salary.

That means your long-term and short-term solutions to this problem should be different. Don't spend money you don't have.

I'd recommend doing some apartment shopping now, with an eye toward what you'll want to have in the fall. Identify some key neighborhoods, and what you can realistically afford on base salary $A, $B, $C. You'll some up with some ideas on the trade-off between location, commute time, square footage, coolness, and cost. Then in your discussions with HR, you'll have a much bettter perspective on whether whatever they offer you is enough money or not.

At the same time (also now?) keep an eye on Craigslist for what you can get as a month-to-month room-in-a-house or sublet or shared apartment. For the summer, you want to live cheap, meet people, not worry about having the dream apartment, and make sure your theory (that it's worth the extra money to live 3 blocks from work, or it's worth the extra commute to have another 150 sqft for the same money) is actually valid in practice. And you'll have plenty of time to do a search for fall. And you can leave half your stuff with your parents anyway, they're pretty close.
posted by aimedwander at 12:12 PM on May 20, 2011

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