Will I be able to move to Brooklyn in September?
May 4, 2008 10:47 PM   Subscribe

When should I start looking for a room in a Brooklyn apartment, if I intend to move there in September? And where, besides Craigslist, are the best places to find ads?

I am starting grad school in New York in the fall. I'll be moving from Providence, RI. I am planning to live in Providence through the summer in order to spend a few more months close to my girlfriend, who lives here.

I have looked at craigslist posts here and there, but no one is advertising yet for a lease beginning in September. I'd ideally like to rent a single room in an apartment, as I don't have much cash to work with and don't know anybody in the area.

Approximately when will people start advertising places that fit my timeframe? And can anyone recommend some print/web resources other than craigslist? Given my September move-in date and the fact that I'm only looking for a room, I imagine that sublet ads will be as helpful as rental ads....

Oh, also, I am not tied to Brooklyn; I'm just looking to live someplace near school that is relatively cheap and vibrant.

Thanks so much.
posted by scarylarry to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
When I was looking for a place in Jersey City, ~1 month was the moving wall of how far into the future folks were looking for tenants. Since you sound like you might be ok with having roommates, you could look at roomie-matching sites. I got good results from roommates.com. They charge a bit to post and see ads, and so are a bit more filtered than CL.

You didn't mention where exactly school is, so can't help more with locations!
posted by shazzam at 10:55 PM on May 4, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the info, shazzam! I'm going to The New School, which is right by Washington Square park, but I don't mind commuting...
posted by scarylarry at 12:03 AM on May 5, 2008

The thing is, when the ads do start rolling out, the competition can be fierce because everyone is looking for room mate hookups for September when school starts. So you need to be ready to roll and able to pounce. The chances of somebody holding a room for you so that you can drive down from Providence on Tuesday to look at it is low.

So get your affairs in order, as they say, and be prepared to move very quickly. Browse CL and RM.com to get a sense of prices, and make sure you have first month's rent and a deposit (or that you know what is generally required in a room mate situation.) Scope out the areas that will work for you in terms of commuting - a NYC subway map will help with this, especially if you ask each potential apartment mate what the closest subway is. You may need references for some shares.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:22 AM on May 5, 2008

One of the good things about the greater New York metropolitan area is that the population isn't as tied to the ebb and flow of school schedules. Pretty much all year-round, people are moving in and moving out of apartments in the city. If you want to live in the city, you should start looking now. Most people will settle for anything the first year just to be local, then keep their ears to the ground and wait for the next great apartment to score. Don't forget to bring your shit.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:58 AM on May 5, 2008

If you want to live in the city, you should start looking now.

No, I disagree, this is way too early to start actively looking. You can keep your ears open and put feelers out among friends, but I think you will find that most ads are for the next month's move in. August is when you'll really have a choice of places, I wouldn't suggest settling on a place before then.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:59 AM on May 5, 2008 [2 favorites]

I moved down here to go to grad school at the New School and, though I started poking around before August, I didn't really find anything until then. But I was looking for an apartment, not a room, so perhaps things work differently in the room-seeking department.

But that's just repetition; what I have to add is this: you should go ahead and get your New School email address up and running if you can. People will sometimes—not often, but sometimes—send out emails about the rooms they're vacating, and they always look like pretty sweet places, if a bit pricey sometimes. You can also send out an email yourself.
posted by felix grundy at 8:00 AM on May 5, 2008

Oh—all this goes through the student advisor. I meant to add that.
posted by felix grundy at 8:02 AM on May 5, 2008

Don't bother looking unless you are ready to move within that month. The best thing you can do is find a hostel or something mid-August and check the Craigslist Rooms and Shares hourly, so that when you see something you like, you can pounce and go meet the roommates immediately. Most NY schools also have bulletin boards and listservs of apts that you can check everyday when you get there.

Most people won't hold an apt while you see other places and wait to decide, so if you see something you like in your price range and like the roommates, just go for it.

It's all very last-minute here, especially when it comes to a room in an already-existing leased apt.

The one thing you can do now (if you want to make yourself feel better by doing something ahead of time) is to draft an introductory email that you will send in response to the ads that you like.

In that email, you should describe yourself, what your hours will be, hobbies, smoking preference, general level of neatness/how often you like to clean, and anything else about your personality that is good to know before living with you. Keep it pretty short, though. Then you can just bang it out to all the places you find without thinking about it. Like cover letters, though, it's good to customize a little bit depending on the apt and roommates (if they have a cat, you can talk about how much you like cats...)
posted by rmless at 8:36 AM on May 5, 2008

The thing is, when the ads do start rolling out, the competition can be fierce because everyone is looking for room mate hookups for September when school starts. So you need to be ready to roll and able to pounce. The chances of somebody holding a room for you so that you can drive down from Providence on Tuesday to look at it is low.

Good advice. Basically, it's way too early. Craigslist is your best bet, but grad schools often have their own listings of student-friendly apartments that you should check out too. Once you start looking, your odds of scoring a deal are much better if you can pounce and close the deal quickly.
posted by Brian James at 9:11 AM on May 5, 2008

It's freaky to sit on your hands when you have months to anticipate the hassles of relocating, but as both a former apartment-hunter and roommate-screener, I assure you that it's feasible to find a place within two weeks of your expected move-in date.

You're right to be intimidated by apartment-hunting online: for every advertised home, there are hundreds of interested takers. If you do decide to go down the Craigslist road, or any online apartment-hunting site that caters to NYC and the boroughs, be ready to pack wit and winning information into your introductory email. Anyone advertising a spare room is going to be swamped with emails, and they'll typically weed out overly long, detailed, boring, weird, and cautionary ("I'm also a part-time nudist, so..") emails.

If you know ANYONE in New York already, put the word out that you're looking to score an affordable place in x, y, and z neighborhoods--people are usually willing to give a friend-of-a-friend the benefit of the doubt over a complete stranger they met via Craigslist.
posted by zoomorphic at 9:34 AM on May 5, 2008

Looking in Brooklyn if you're going to the New School is already a wise move. I agree with everyone that a 4-6 weeks ahead of time is the best time to start looking.

You also asked where to find ads -- there's a local forum, Brooklynian, that has threads on all different neighborhoods, so you can research the feel of a given place, and then a separate "real estate" thread for all of the "room/roommate wanted" posts. There's also sublet.com, which is fairly extensive for New York (my current roommate moved into this apartment through that site first).

I agree with the "ask people you know to help you" comment, but I'd expand it to "ask anyone, even those OUTSIDE of New York" -- because you never know. I know someone who found his current apartment because his parents in Boston went to the same church as another couple whose son in Queens had just casually mentioned to them, "So, there's an empty apartment in my building now." I recently put out the word that I needed a new roommate (for the record: I have found someone, sorry), and was referred to someone who knew someone who knew someone who knew someone -- even people who don't live in New York may know someone who DOES live here.

You may want to make a couple trips here over the summer to check out neighborhoods, so you can hit the ground running when you actually do the apartment hunting. Knowing NOW that Red Hook is a 20-minute walk from any subway or that Bed-Stuy actually isn't that bad can save you a lot of time later.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:42 AM on May 5, 2008

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