Your Hot Apartment Listings for the Week of March 21!

Posted in Apartment Hunting, Featured Listings and Buildings, New York Living on March 21st, 2014 by Rob – Comments Off

Each of the apartments below was featured in one of our weekly newsletters for the week of March 21. If you’re interested, follow up with the contact person in the listing; we have not confirmed since the time the newsletter was sent out that the apartments are available. Things move fast in New York!

1 Bedroom at 46 Grand St., SoHo, $2,900

 2 Bedrooms at 635 west 42nd St., Hell’s Kitchen for $5,667

2 Bedrooms at West 3rd St., Greenwich Village, for $10,500

1 Bedroom in Battery Park City, $3,800

1 Bedroom at 20 Pine St., Apt. 2208, FiDi, for $4,000

Loft at Peck Slip, FiDi, for $5,000

Looking at the Hidden Costs of Living in New York

Posted in Apartment Hunting, Market Trends, New York Living on March 18th, 2014 by Rob – Comments Off

At RentHop we keep track of rents across the nation (and we’re building some great new tools to help you analyze them). To help you understand better some of the personal finance issues related to paying rent, we’re partnering with Moven and SmartAsset, two leaders in the personal finance field, to give you some helpful advice.

Today’s article is about some of the hidden costs of living in New York. We’ve looked at three key expenses – food, travel and entertainment – to see how they vary across the boroughs. While the numbers aren’t the same everywhere (New York is expensive!), the concept is; when you’re considering where to live, there are lots of variables that aren’t included in the rent.

For more info, go have a look at SmartAsset’s article on the diverse rental economies in four major cities – New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles, and at Moven’s infographic showing some of the key factors you should consider when making the rent vs. buy decision. Also, don’t forget to tune into the Breaking Banks radio show airing this Thursday at 3pm on VoiceAmerica.

By Kyla Marshell

When choosing an apartment, the first thing you have to ask is “How much is the rent?” Finding an apartment with a rent you can afford is the first step – but there’s a host of other “hidden fees” that factor into the total cost of living. That’s why we decided to take a closer look at the extra expenses that affect how much you ultimately have to pay using recent data from New York’s five boroughs. Though everyone’s expenses are different, there are three that are certain: food, travel, and entertainment.

First, some average monthly spending information (excluding rent and mortgage) developed using anonymized Visa and Mastercard transaction information by Bundle and data from the 2012 American Community Survey:

  Brooklyn Manhattan Queens*
Bronx Staten Island 
Typical HH Income(2012 Census)

$45,215

$68,370

$56,780

$34,300

$73,496

Monthly Non-Housing Related Spend

$1,793

$3,832

$1,906

$1,256

$2,012

% of Typical Income

48%

67%

40%

44%

33%

* No aggregate data for Queens is available; data in this table and all other tables in this post for Queens represents averages for Queens Village, NY.

Two things jump out. First, Manhattanites pay far more to eat, travel and play than do residents of any other borough – nearly twice as much as the next cheaper options. Second, residents of the Bronx pay far less than residents of other boroughs for the same activities.

I.  FOOD

  Bronx Staten Island  Queens*
Brooklyn Manhattan
Groceries  $179 $299 $295 $321 $555
Dining Out  $123 $201 $211 $216 $805
Total Food Spending $302 $500 $506 $537 $1,360

Food spending in NYC heavily depends on the borough you live in. Bronx residents spend the least, averaging $300 a month on groceries and dining out. Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island residents spend almost 70% more, averaging $500 a month. But Manhattanites literally take the cake, spending 250% to 450% more than other borough residents.

While you may think that this is a clear sign that you should live in the outer boroughs, be aware that the further out you get, the more likely it is that you will encounter a “food desert” where access and variety is limited to bodegas and small markets. Food deserts can cause many health issues within a community, but for someone moving to the area, the issue becomes the necessity to leave the neighborhood should you want a quality grocery store. Depending on how great that distance is, how often you go (or have cravings for things you can’t run out and get), and whether by train or cab, lack of access can be a tremendous issue.

The interactive map at foodcensus.org shows the kinds of stores available (grouped as small stores, specialty stores, and large stores), with names and addresses, for 30 Brooklyn neighborhoods. Though not exhaustive, the map makes it clear that some neighborhoods – the ones that are less expensive – aren’t close to significant food sources. There’s a less-detailed but still exhaustive nationwide map provided by the US Department of Agriculture that can help you compare both income levels and food deserts across the boroughs.

II.  TRAVEL

  Bronx Brooklyn Manhattan Queens*
Staten Island 
Getting Around  $272 $289 $295 $403 $509
MTA Subway Station per square mile 1.6 2.0 5.0 0.7 N/A

Say you find a great place you can actually afford, near a grocery store and laundromat – another place no one wants to haul bags to and from – but it’s far from the train. How does that factor into your everyday costs?

Unlike several other American cities, a one-way trip on the New York City subway is the same price no matter how far you’re going. So living in Brooklyn but working in the Bronx won’t cost you more in terms of transit fare. But if you live far from the train, time spent walking to and from the train must be factored in to your total commute time. If you’re 12 blocks from the subway, that’s at least 15 minutes added to every commute. With all that walking, especially come wintertime, most people are liable to take a cab. For a short distance (depending on who your driver is), a car service will charge you $7-8. It’s deceptively cheap. It’s the kind of thing that quickly adds up.

Here it’s interesting to compare the number of subway stations in the four boroughs that have them (the Staten Island Railway, Staten Island’s rail system, is not part of the MTA). The Bronx has 68 stations, Brooklyn 157 stations, Manhattan 118 stations and Queens 78 stations. Brooklyn seems well-resourced in this analysis. Compare in terms of square mileage, though, and a different picture emerges. Queens has 0.7 subway stations per square mile; the Bronx, 1.6 subway stations per square mile; Brooklyn, just under 2 subway stations per square mile; and Manhattan, 5 subway stations per square mile.

The numbers on the table bear this out: apart from Staten Island, Queens residents spend the most on getting around, and residents of Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan all spend roughly the same amount.

This also manifests itself in long commute times to work. A recent WNYC.org article shows average commute times nationwide, with particular emphasis on the New York metro area (which has some of the longest commutes in the US). The map confirms what anecdotes suggest: commutes are longest in Brooklyn and Queens, and shortest in Manhattan. And not by small amounts, either; the average commute length in Queens and the Bronx is almost 42 minutes, and just less for most of Brooklyn, while it’s a mere 30 minutes in Manhattan.

This often cuts heavily into time available for anything else but work. If you’ve got a tough commute, it may not matter whether you’re near a grocery store or laundromat, because you won’t have time to cook or do your laundry – you’ll eat out and send off to the wash-and-fold every single time. Laziness and exhaustion know no economic boundaries.

III.  ENTERTAINMENT

  Brooklyn Manhattan Queens*
Bronx Staten Island 
Shopping, Travel & Leisure  $958 $2,177 $997 $682 $1,003

When you do have spare time, you’ll want to have some fun. In New York, there are infinite options to enjoy yourself – and infinite ways to spend your money.

The most important thing to remember when hanging in New York is that however glamorous the city may seem, it’s still a place where you have to spend your own money. Having access to anything, anytime is what makes New York so appealing; but it can also make impulsive spending a daily habit. Instead of waiting to eat leftovers at home, you can go to a food truck. Forget your magazine? Buy it again at one of our city’s newsstands, located approximately everywhere.

You’ll also have to plan for a price boost for stuff you’d do elsewhere, like dinner and a movie. Here, the movies can cost as much as a copay at the doctor (yes, that’s $20 for IMAX; $13-14 regular). Restaurants are pricier too, once you factor in sales tax (9 percent), a properly cosmopolitan tip (18-20 percent), and all the ambiance you’ll be paying for (a lot). The average cost of a dinner in New York City in 2012 was $43.46, according to a recent Zagat survey. Again, unsurprisingly, Manhattanites pay the most, and it’s not close; they spend four times as much dining out, three times as much at leisure, and twice as much shopping as do residents of the other boroughs.

Even once you’ve lived here for a while, it can still feel like you’re on vacation: there’s so much to do, and oftentimes, you’ll happen upon entertainment with little effort. It might be wise to budget in the cash you’ll spend at pop-up shops, food festivals, and outdoor bazaars, which are plentiful, especially during the summer. It’s hard to resist these urban gems when you find them – so stay flexible with your pocket change, and with your budget overall. The city awaits!

Should I Rent or Buy?

Posted in Apartment Hunting, Market Trends, New York Living on March 17th, 2014 by Rob – Comments Off

At RentHop we pay a lot of attention to rents across the nation (and we’re building some great new tools to help you analyze them). To help you understand better some of the personal finance issues related to paying rent, we’ve partnered with Moven and SmartAsset, two leaders in the personal finance field, to give you some helpful advice. 

Today SmartAsset posted an article on the diverse rental economies in four major cities – New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. The article looks at average rents in those cities and provides both helpful data and important concepts to consider. Meanwhile, Moven has created an infographic showing some of the key factors you should consider when making the rent vs. buy decision. We’ve excerpted the infographic below for your reference.

Tomorrow, watch this space for our article on the comparative costs of living across New York’s boroughs. While the article focuses on data from New York, the conclusion holds true elsewhere – you may be surprised by the myriad ways in which your location determines your expenses! Finally, for more on this topic listen to the Breaking Banks radio show airing this Thursday at 3pm on VoiceAmerica.

 

Infographic provided by Moven

Infographic provided by Moven

 

Your Hot Apartment Listings for the Week of March 14!

Posted in Apartment Hunting, Featured Listings and Buildings, New York Living on March 14th, 2014 by Rob – Comments Off

Each of the apartments below was featured in one of our weekly newsletters for the week of March 14. If you’re interested, follow up with the contact person in the listing; we have not confirmed since the time the newsletter was sent out that the apartments are available. Things move fast in New York!

1 bedroom at Spruce Street, FiDi, $3,735 (posted 3/11)

1 bedroom at W. 24th St., Chelsea, $3,097 (posted 3/11)

2 bedrooms at E. 8th St., Greenwich Village, $6,950 (posted 3/11)

4 bedrooms, 360 E. 57th St., $15,500 (posted 3/14)

3 bedrooms, 143 Chambers St., $10,500 (posted 3/14)

2 bedrooms, 310 W. 52nd St., $7,700 (posted 3/14)

4 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Renter’s Insurance

Posted in Apartment Hunting, New York Living on March 10th, 2014 by Rob – Comments Off

Renter’s insurance (or tenant’s insurance) provides important protection for your property. Sometimes your lease requires it, sometimes not, but it’s almost always a good idea. It’s also not too expensive — often only $300 per year, or $25 per month, for $50,000 in protection. And it has some great features. Did you know that many renter’s insurance policies will cover damage to your property outside your home? They do (albeit usually not at 100% of the amount of the loss).

A basic policy will reimburse you for losses to your personal property, costs incurred due to loss of use and personal liability for injuries to others (covered losses) that result from the occurrence of certain events (named perils).

The end of the world will most likely not be a named peril.

Source: Wikipedia

Named perils under most policies include fire, theft, vandalism, certain weather events (but not all), and water damage resulting from plumbing or appliance failure. If the covered loss occurs as a result of a named peril, you’ll file a claim with your carrier and work with them to get reimbursed.

Sounds simple, right? It’s not. There are some things you should do to make sure you get the coverage you need. The most important one is to read the policy. Don’t be intimidated, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’re the customer, and you’ve got a right to know what you are — and aren’t — buying.

With that in mind, here’s our top 4 tips for getting the most out of your renter’s insurance policy:

(1) Maximize coverage for the losses you care about most. Most policies have coverage limits for different kinds of property — for example, only $1,000 for jewelry, or $2,500 for business equipment or inventory at the home. That may not be enough to make you whole, and you don’t want to have bought a policy with a $50,000 limit only to have $1,000 of your $4,000 claim for your jewelry paid out. Similarly, if you work from home and your work requires high-priced technology (for example, a 3-D printer and high-powered computer), your renter’s policy may not reimburse you nearly enough.

If you’ve got one of these, make sure your insurance will cover it!

Source: high-end-audio-products.blogspot.com

An important concept here is replacement value vs. actual cash value. Your policy may pay you the actual value of your property (actual cash value) or an amount sufficient to buy a replacement (replacement value). The actual cash value of your 10-year old sofa may not nearly equal the cost of buying a new version of the same sofa; if your policy provides actual cash value you’ll have to make up the difference yourself. An actual cash value policy will likely be cheaper than the replacement value policy, but you get what you pay for.

You can buy a policy that covers everything under the sun. A better solution, though, may be to buy a basic policy and then buy additional coverage for the risks you care about. If you have expensive jewelry, you can buy “high value item” coverage (note you may need to get the item appraised). If you have property that depreciates quickly you should consider a policy that pays replacement value rather than actual cash value (or buy specific coverage for it).

(2) Prepare the info you’ll need to make a claim when you get the policy. Make a list of your property — with pictures or video for the expensive stuff — when you sign up for the policy. You’ll need it to prove that (a) you owned the property as to which you’re claiming losses at the time the loss occurred and (b) the property wasn’t already damaged at the time the loss occurred. This may seem tedious but if you haven’t done it you’ll have a hard time getting your carrier to pay out on your claim, which defeats the purpose of having the policy in the first place. There are several online tools for this – for example, the Insurance Information Institute has a good free tool.

(3) See what you can do to lower your premium. Many renter’s insurance policies will reward you with you a lower premium if you have (or install) a deadbolt on your door, or have smoke detectors in the apartment. You can also have a relatively higher deductible. Ask your broker what you and he or she can do (and whether you’re eligible for any discounts!).

Try a home security system from our friends at Canary!

Source: www.t3.com

Also, if you own any other kinds of insurance (for example, car insurance), see if you can add renter’s insurance from that carrier. It’s almost always cheaper this way, and you may be eligible for better deals if you have a relationship with that carrier.

(4) Know what benefits your policy provides, and don’t be afraid to use them. A good policy does all kinds of helpful things over and above reimbursing you for covered losses. It can cover damage you do to other people’s property (that doesn’t mean you should do that, though). If you have to vacate your home due to damage, your policy may cover emergency living expenses while you’re out of your home. Keep your policy with your important documents so that you can access it quickly in case of emergency.

Disclaimer: this post is not intended to be and does not constitute legal advice and you should not use it for that purpose.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Think insurance is exotic? Go enjoy some of New York’s best ethnic food markets.

Want some more rental advice? See our list of 10 things not to forget when you’re looking at apartments.

5 Things You Can Do To Avoid Losing Your Security Deposit

Posted in New York Living on March 3rd, 2014 by Rob – Comments Off

If you’re renting your home you most likely paid a security deposit when you signed your lease. The security deposit secures your performance under the lease – if you fail to perform your obligations under the lease the landlord may keep some or all of the security deposit. The landlord holds the deposit during the lease, usually in an escrow account. (You may be entitled to any interest earned on the security deposit while it’s held by the landlord.) Once you’ve moved out of the apartment your landlord will inspect the apartment and, assuming you haven’t damaged the apartment beyond ordinary wear and tear, should return your security deposit to you.

The original landlord-tenant dispute.

Source: Toonpool.com

The problem with security deposits is that at the end of the lease the landlord decides how much of your security deposit you’ll get back. The landlord has all the leverage; you’ll have a hard time challenging the landlord’s determination that some or all of your deposit is forfeit. It’s helpful to know the laws of your state regarding security deposits, and it’s important to document both the state of the apartment when you moved in and damage that occurs while you live there. But in the end, if you leave excess work for the landlord to do in preparing for the next tenant, you’re likely to pay for it with part of your security deposit, or else have a time-consuming (and potentially expensive) fight to recoup the lost portion. (How this works will vary by state; the New York Attorney General has a helpful explainer on this subject.)

Here are 5 things you can do to avoid losing part or all of your security deposit:

(1)  Fix damage to the walls: Leases often explicitly provide that if you use nails to hang artwork you need to remove the hooks and fill the holes on move-out. Even if you don’t fill the holes, you need to be careful removing the nails when you pull them out.

If you damage your walls you'll lose your security deposit.

If you damage your walls you’ll lose your security deposit.

Source: Flickr/CC 2.0

This is especially important if you live in an apartment with cinder-block or plaster walls (e.g., Manhattan pre-war apartment). In those apartments you may need special nails, or to drill holes in the wall to put in the nails.  If done incorrectly this can cause plaster to crumble. And if you’re putting up something especially heavy, you need to make sure you find a wall stud into which to drive the nail. At the very least make sure you get hooks strong enough to support the weight of the object you’re hanging.

Consider using adhesive instead of hooks to hang lighter pieces (remember to pull down the adhesive!). Also, get in-fill putty from a hardware store – it’s a common item and easy to apply.

(2)  Don’t scratch hardwood floors: Hardwood floors are beautiful. They’re also very easy to scuff and scratch – just dragging your dining-room chair across a hardwood floor can leave an unsightly (and expensive) trail. If you have hardwood floors, consider putting rubber cups or similar on your furniture’s legs – this will not only protect the floor but also keep the furniture from sliding around.

Don't do this to your floors.

Don’t do this to your floors.

Source: Flickr/CC 2.0

Carpets, paradoxically, are less of a problem – it’s easier to damage carpet, but landlords often replace carpeting as a matter of course after a tenant moves out.

(3)  Put back interior doors you take down: Interior doors are usually much lighter than front doors, and it can be easy to inadvertently damage them. Partially as a result, you might consider taking down interior doors. (This also has the effect of making your space feel larger.) If you take them down, remember to put them back up.

Beautiful old-school pocket doors.

Beautiful old-school pocket doors.

Pay particular attention to sliding doors and “pocket doors” (doors that slide into the wall). They can become dislodged from their tracks, which is itself a problem (and which if left unresolved can damage the door).

(4)  Keep appliances clean and well-functioning: Nobody likes a dirty kitchen. But if you leave the appliances especially dirty, or if you break them (or allow them to become unusable), your landlord will incur expenses in repairing or replacing them — expenses you’ll pay for with part of your security deposit.

You will definitely not get your security deposit back if your kitchen looks like this when you move out.

You will definitely not get your security deposit back if your kitchen looks like this when you move out.

Source: Flickr/all rights reserved.

Also note that if you put in appliances (like an air conditioner) that stress the apartment’s wiring you’re likely to pay for damage that results with part of your security deposit.

(5)  Don’t leave (much) property in your apartment after you move out: Your lease may explicitly say that the landlord can charge you for disposing of property you leave in the apartment when you move out. Even if it doesn’t, though, if you leave large pieces of property in the apartment (e.g. a sofa) your landlord may well charge you for disposing of it – by deducting the cost of disposing of it from your security deposit. This also goes for appliances that you install and then leave when you move out.

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We’re pretty old-school; we think pre-war apartments in Manhattan are pretty great. Come read why!

Also…we went nationwide! Read all about it.

Four Questions to Ask When Picking a Neighborhood

Posted in Apartment Hunting, New York Living on February 24th, 2014 by Rob – Comments Off

What neighborhood do you want to live in? It’s one of the first questions you’ll ask when you’re looking for an apartment, and certainly one of the first that a real estate agent will ask. New York has so many diverse neighborhoods that it can be hard to pick between them. If you’re new to the city it’s even harder; you won’t have direct experience, and unless your friends or relatives live there you have very few resources that you know you can trust.

That’s a lot of neighborhoods!

Source: Beyond my Ken

You need to narrow down your search at least a little bit. Below is our list of the four most important questions to ask, along with some resources to help you. 

(1)  How big is your net?

Some “neighborhoods” are extremely large areas; others are quite small. The Upper West Side is enormous – almost 1.9 square miles and some 150,000 residents. SoHo is much smaller – about 0.34 square miles and some 13,000 residents. The Upper West Side has at least four sub-neighborhoods (Manhattan Valley, Lincoln Square, Ansonia, Morningside Heights).

The Ansonia, in the UWS.

The Ansonia, in the UWS.

Morningside Heights, also in the UWS, but very different.

Morningside Heights, also in the UWS, but very different.

Sources: Ansonia, Morningside Heights

This matters a lot. First, smaller neighborhoods have fewer apartments from which to choose. If your heart is set on living in TriBeCa, recognize that there won’t be many choices and that competition for them will be strong. Second, larger neighborhoods have diverse sub-neighborhoods. This means you might be able to find the best of all worlds – a small area that is different from, but complementary to, the neighborhood generally. (Imagine a quiet residential street just a few blocks off a busy avenue.) Be careful when you’re looking at apartment listings, though; Morningside Heights and Lincoln Square are both in the Upper West Side, but are very different from each other.

(2)  What things are most important to you about where you live?

Some things are generally true about New York. First, it’s pretty safe (especially Manhattan); crime rates here are at are near the lowest among the top 25 U.S. cities by population. You should check crime statistics for any neighborhood you’re considering, though. (Here’s a great resource for that.) Second, there are lots of people. New York is far and away the most populated city in the US, and even though some neighborhoods are less-crowded than others, you’ll find few sparsely-populated neighborhoods.

Almost everything else you can think of varies widely.  Here’s a short, non-exhaustive list of things you might think about:

Personality.  What kind of people live there?  How homogenous is the neighborhood? The personalities of New York’s neighborhoods is a blog post all its own (see here and here for some examples.) Don’t just rely on one or two sources, though.

Some awesome color in Chelsea, viewed from the High Line.

Some awesome color in Chelsea, viewed from the High Line.

Source: KGS Imaging

Building features.  Buildings with certain types of features are more common in some neighborhoods than others. For example, if you’re dead-set on living in a luxury high-rise with doorman and elevator, you’ll find that there are more choices in the Financial District and Midtown than in Murray Hill or Harlem. If you want a pre-war walkup, you won’t find much in Battery Park City.

Social outlets.  Do you want to live somewhere with lots of bars, restaurants, movie theaters and shopping? Or would you prefer a quieter area?

When you’ve figured out what’s important to you, the follow-up question is “what tradeoffs are you willing to make to have those things?” You may need to make some tough choices. 

Here’s a great resource on this topic from New York Magazine.

(3)  How much can you spend, and what kind of apartment do you need?

Rents in some neighborhoods are higher than in others. And some types of apartment are more common in some neighborhoods than others. Lofts are more common in SoHo than they are elsewhere; 3- and 4-bedroom apartments are easier to find in the Upper East Side than in the West Village. Median prices in the Upper East Side are lower than they are in TriBeCa.

There are deals in every neighborhood; internet listing services like RentHop can quickly help you screen for them. Go have a look! (And recognize that if a listing looks too good to be true it probably is.) But don’t spend all your time waiting for a great deal to appear. Use your time (and your broker’s time, if you have one) productively by thinking realistically about what you need and where you’re likeliest to find it in your price range.

(4)  How close do you want to be to public transit, and which lines do you need?

Proximity to public transit is everything in New York City, since owning a car is impractical and very expensive. Fortunately New York has the largest public transit system in the US, and it operates 24-7. There are 421 subway stations in New York (but note that they aren’t evenly distributed across the boroughs). New York’s bus network is similarly diverse and easily-accessible — there are over 300 bus routes, 5,600 buses and 15,000 bus stops across the five boroughs.

There are two questions here: (1) how far do I have to go to get public transport and (2) how far do I have to go from public transit to my destination? Some neighborhoods have much more access to public transit than others – figure out what you need and what lines go there. You should also note that certain types of commutes — cross-town and cross-river — are especially time-consuming.

Good luck with your search!

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If you’re considering using a broker to find an apartment, be sure to look at our tips for using a broker in 2014.

And while you’re thinking about places to live, consider NYC’s hottest and coldest neighborhoods.

Four Amenities You Should Pay For (and Three You Shouldn’t)

Posted in Apartment Hunting, New York Living on February 17th, 2014 by Rob – Comments Off

In New York (and nationwide!) apartments and apartment buildings come with an amazing array of amenities. From gyms and pools to private balconies, buildings have come a long way. Improvements in plumbing and electrical wiring allow landlords to put heavy water- and electricity-drawing conveniences like washers/dryers and dishwashers directly into apartments. 

Now *this* is an amenity!

Now *this* is an amenity!

(View original picture here)

We love awesome amenities. They’re totally cool, and they’re great for boasting to your friends. Not surprisingly, landlords often charge extra for them, either directly or indirectly (through increasing the rent).  Some amenities can really improve your life – but some aren’t worth it. Here are our thoughts about each.

Amenities worth paying extra for:

(1) Dishwasher.  Common to modern buildings with new plumbing and electrical wiring, dishwashers forestall roommate conflict and avoid bug problems.  Whether you have the standard 24” version (big enough for 12-14 place settings) or the compact 18” version (big enough for 6-8 place settings), having a dishwasher means the dishes can get cleaned without a struggle.  (Someone does still have to load it, though.)  They also have the added benefit of being a handy place to store clean dishes and flatware.

Cabinets? Who needs cabinets?

(Source: Piotrus)

A note about energy usage in New York: In-apartment amenities like dishwashers can really spike your energy bill, so pay attention to your usage. In particular check whether your energy costs vary at different times of day; if they do, try to run your dishwasher (or other appliance) during times when energy is cheapest.

Con Edison is responsible for power delivery in New York; you deal with them to set up electric or gas when you move in and to cancel when you move out. They have a special program, called PowerMove, where if you sign up for energy service from an energy service company (or “ESCO”) other than Con Ed you will get a one-time 7% discount for the first two months of your new service with that ESCO. Don’t forget to sign up!

The technical term for this thing is “garburator”.

(2) Garbage Disposal.  Did you know that in-sink garbage disposals have been legal in New York City since 1997? They were banned in the 1970’s over concerns that food (or other things) disposed of down the drain would wreak havoc on the city’s sewer lines.  The city tested that theory in 1997 by giving out 200 in-sink units on a 21-month trial basis, and when that didn’t destroy the sewers the city lifted the ban. 

Disposals are great for limiting solid food waste (which diminishes the number of trash runs you need to make), and are an equally great way to create awful urban legends. Nevertheless garbage disposals are still uncommon in New York, though many newer buildings have them.

Want to search for NY apartments with garbage disposals?

(3) In-building laundry facilities. Not to be confused with in-unit washer/dryer (more on that below), having a laundry room allows you to do your laundry whenever it’s convenient for you. If you work long (or odd) hours this is a huge benefit. You may have to start hoarding quarters, or just buying them by the roll at the nearest bank branch, but it’s a small price to pay. Plus it’s a great way to meet your neighbors! 

Early versions of R2D2?

(View original picture)

Make sure that you obey proper laundry-room etiquette.  There’s nothing worse than forgetting your wet clothes and finding them hours later in a pile on the floor in the corner. Here’s a small primer.

(4) A view of something cool.  You’ll pay extra for this depending on what view you rent. A Manhattan skyline view makes for an expensive apartment, even in Brooklyn or Queens. (Not sure?  Go have a look!) But you don’t need to rent an apartment with a view of something iconic or extra-special. What you really need is a view that makes you smile when you look at it. With some luck, you can find one that won’t cost an arm and a leg.

This would be an expensive view.

(View original photo)

Bonus: Proximity to a subway. Sounds obvious, but apartments that are very convenient to a subway line are expensive, and for good reason; being near a subway line (especially a well-trafficked one like the 1/2/3, 4/5/6 or B/D/F/V) greatly increases your flexibility.

Amenities that may not be worth the extra:

(1) Gym/workout facility. If your rent includes access to a free or very cheap gym, definitely use it! However, a free or very cheap gym is unlikely to have on-site supervision, classes, or new or well-functioning equipment. Buildings that have expensive gyms may invest more in equipment, maintenance or staff, but those gyms are unlikely to be as good as or better than purpose-built and operated gyms and you may have to pay a monthly fee to use them in addition to higher rent. If you live in Manhattan (and, increasingly, Brooklyn and Queens), it’s very likely that there is a good gym near where you live. Bottom line: don’t pay a big rent premium or an additional monthly fee for your in-house gym; pay for a real gym instead.

Not terrible – but don’t pay extra for it!

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(2) In-apartment washer/dryer, if it’s less than full-size. To be clear, having laundry on the premises is important. But having it in your apartment may not be worth the premium that you’ll pay in rent. Small washer/dryers, or “combo washer/dryers” that wash and dry in the same unit, have extremely small capacities and (often) mediocre performance. While they may be energy-efficient to run, you’ll have to run them more often to get your laundry done.

So this is your washer AND your dryer. Right.

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There are exceptions here – in particular, if you have a small child it’s great to also have a washer/dryer in-unit no matter the size.  Also, a full-size washer/dryer fixes the performance issues (though you’ll certainly pay a rent premium for it).   

(3) Private outdoor space. Everyone wants outdoor space – it’s great for parties! It’s an awesome respite! – but outdoor space can require a lot of maintenance and is subject to substantial additional regulatory restrictions. Having a lot of outdoor space can also mean a much smaller apartment. And New York winters are not always, shall we say, so temperate.

Seen an apartment with great amenities recently?  Tell us about it!  We’d love to hear from you, and if it’s especially awesome we’ll put it up on our blog!

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Psyched to start your search for a new home? Go here!

Maybe you’re wondering when the best time is to start looking for a new place? (Hint: you’re in it!) Here are the best times of year to start searching.

RentHop Goes Nationwide!

Posted in Rent Hop News on February 14th, 2014 by Rob – Comments Off

We’ve got some exciting news! Yesterday our friends at TechCrunch broke the news that we are now nationwide!

We’re looking forward to helping renters across the country find great apartments and high-quality, responsive brokers and property managers. Want to learn more? Come see our press release, or go take a tour of the nation!

As always, if you have any questions you can email us, tweet us at @RentHop, or catch us on Facebook, Google+, Linkedin, or Pinterest!

Your Hot Apartment Listings for the Week of February 12!

Posted in Apartment Hunting, Featured Listings and Buildings, New York Living on February 14th, 2014 by Rob – Comments Off

Each of the apartments below was featured in one of our weekly newsletters for the week of February 12.  If you’re interested, follow up with the contact person in the listing; we have not confirmed since the time the newsletter was sent out that the apartments are available.  Things move fast in New York!

2 bedroom loft on Varick Street, $6,450 (posted 2/11)

1 bedroom duplex on Third Avenue, UES, $3,095 (posted 2/11)

2 bedrooms at Grove Street, West Village, $5,595 (posted 2/11)

1 bedroom at 666 Greenwich St., West Village, $4,995 (posted 2/14)

1 bedroom at 38th and Lex, $4,800 (posted 2/14)

1 bedroom at 81st and 3rd, UES, $2,700 (posted 2/14)