Renting an apartment in New York City is always a scary proposition, whether you’re moving here for the first time or simply switching from one Manhattan neighborhood to another.  There are so many factors to consider, and for most people, the first question is: How do I even get started?

We recently came across an excellent post on NYCurbed, one of the city’s most popular real estate blogs, and we thought it was worth sharing:

There are many places on the web that can tell you how to look for a new neighborhood in which to start your new NYC life. NY Mag has a Neighborhood Ranking System, and Time Out NY also has a yearly Apartment Guide. Here are a few main things that you want to look for when first moving to NYC:

First of all, cost. Obviously, this is the main issue for most new New Yorkers, since a good chunk of your money intake goes straight to rent. When newbies move to NYC, they’re thinking Manhattan. The sad and true fact is that it’s difficult to find a good apartment in a desirable neighborhood for under $1k a month, and that’s WITH a roommate. As you subtract more people from the equation, the cost goes up even more. If it’s that important to you, make it work. If not, look in the other boroughs. You can find an apartment in a borough (or even the Jerz) for a good price and not a bad commute. Think about it. But whether you end up living the dream in Manhattan or slumming it in the burbs, I mean…the boroughs, keep these next things in mind.

Not only do you want to be somewhere near a train, you want it to be one that will actually come. There are a couple trains that have pretty dismal ratings. Also, ask yourself if you’re OK with walking more than 10 minutes to a train. You could live on the Upper East Side on 90th Street (near the express stop, woohoo!)… but you live on York Avenue. That’s a solid walk. Make sure you’re up for it. Which leads into:

You’ll want to be in a place that is hopefully convenient to banks, shopping, restaurants, laundry, and even—gasp!—your job. Average commute time seems to hover around 35 to 40 minutes, so keep that in mind! Keep your job close, but your ATM and sandwich places closer, and make sure you know where the necessities are!

A couple other questions to ask yourself:

Do you mind having to travel for your restaurants and nightlife? Would you rather be right in the middle of everything or have a quiet place to go home? Most of all—do you feel comfortable? Go back at night with a buddy and take a stroll. Celebrating diversity is one of the best things about NYC, so if you feel uncomfortable in a new place, at least give it a chance! If you feel unsafe, though, always follow your instincts.

Rental Nirvana: What documents and info to bring in case you find the perfect rental
NYC’s rental market is a perfect metaphor for the city itself—fast moving, expensive, and sometimes difficult to navigate under 14th Street. It’s usually the biggest expenditure for New Yorkers, taking up 1/4 to 1/3 of a paycheck.

Say you’ve already made sure your rental broker isn’t screwing you and you’ve found your dream apartment. Quick! It’s time to put in an application. As any New Yorker knows, good apartments go in a split second. If you’re lucky enough to find something that you know is a diamond in the rough, you better have yourself together. Sidenote: We’re assuming this is for a rental building and not a co-op or condo. With them, you may even need to put together a board package, which means you have to get even more documentation. Lucky.