Hunting: How to Find an Apartment in NYC in the Winter

If you’re trying to find an apartment in NYC during the winter, you may think you have a Herculean task in front of you. While apartment hunting during off-season has certain challenges, it may in fact be a great move for renters.

You don’t know how you got here, but suddenly, you have to find an apartment in NYC. In the winter. Maybe you had a sudden job transfer. Or perhaps you took over a lease from someone else and it happened to end during the winter months. There are an infinite number of reasons why you’d need to hit the pavement on the hunt for an apartment just as the cold season hits. Here’s what you need to know about the wintertime apartment search in NYC.

NYC apartment in winter

Image Source: Flickr/Steve McFarland

I’ve heard that winter is the absolute worst time to look for an apartment; is that true?

Winter certainly presents a challenge for apartment hunters. May through September are prime rental season for most cities, a period when many leases are coming to an end (and many students have left their off-campus apartments), leaving tons of apartments up for grabs. New graduates come to town after June graduations, with many of them looking for leases that start in September. Peak apartment-hunting season means that there’s more inventory for prospective tenants to choose from. Landlords do their best to find new tenants during the summer and early fall months. Once this period is over, the hubbub dies down, and there are fewer spaces available.

Snowstorm in NYC

Image Source: Flickr/Dan Nguyen

So should I even bother looking in the winter?

Absolutely! You should look for an apartment in the winter, and you should take your hunt very seriously.

  • Lower competition. Yes, there are more apartments on the market from May to September, and while that means that there’s a heck of a lot more choice when it comes to available spaces, it also means that there’s a lot more competition for those apartments. In other words, that amazingly priced, ideally located parlor-floor duplex with that cute little garden out back that’d be perfect for Mr. Ciao, your Yorkie? If you’ve stumbled across it during prime rental season, it’ll likely have a zillion other people vying for it. But if you’re looking at the same apartment in the middle of winter, the number of other apartment hunters drastically decreases, giving you a better shot at getting it.
  • Better prices. You may be able to make a deal on the rent. Fewer apartments on the market also means fewer people looking, so in the interests of getting their apartments filled, landlords may be willing to negotiate on the rent.


brownstone covered in snow in NYC

Image Source: Flickr/Axel Taferner

OK, I’m sold! What should my winter apartment-hunting strategy be?

Here are some things to keep in mind when hunting for your NYC apartment in during the winter months.

  • Speak to real estate agents. No … stalk them. They receive desperate calls from owners looking to find tenants for last-minute or hard-to-fill vacancies every day.
  • Put your social media accounts to good use. Instagramming your latest avocado-and-egg sandwich creation or posting another video of Mr. Ciao’s latest shenanigans are truly important tasks, but putting the word out to all your friends and associates that you’re trying to find an apartment is even more important.
  • Talk to the landlord. Many landlords are ready and willing to negotiate in the winter, since there aren’t that many apartment seekers during that time. If you find an apartment you like, find out if the landlord is willing to negotiate. To a landlord, having a good regular tenant paying slightly less rent is better than having no tenant at all.

Main Image Source: Flickr/Marc Cappelletti

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