Finding an apartment in any city can be a difficult task, but in New York it can be near impossible, or worse, near Trenton, New Jersey. While the stock market's recent performance has thousands of people moving to the city for well-paying jobs, these people have created a huge demand for living space and have driven apartment prices sky high. If this makes you unhappy, Alaska pays people to live there.


Before you start looking for an apartment, you need to make an important decision: how much are you willing and able to pay in monthly rent? In a city as expensive as New York you will probably have to spend a large percentage of your income on housing. A good way to find your upper-limit for housing costs is to divide your monthly net (after tax) income by three. If this figure seems unusually low, you have three options: (1) make more money, (2) consider living in a less expensive area, like Queens, Brooklyn or Hoboken, or (3) save money on rent by finding a roommate.

Maybe get yourself a roommate

If you decide getting a roommate is the way to cut costs, you can choose a friend/acquaintance yourself or you can use a roommate agency. (Some roommate agencies can be found online here and here). Either way, you must carefully choose your roommate or you will rue the day you opted to get yourself a "roomie." Obviously, not all strangers make good roommates, but less obviously, not all friends make good roommates. To that end, you may wish to ask all potential roommates the following questions to assess compatibility:

  • Have you ever had a roommate before? What if anything bothered you about your past roommates?
  • Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend or other friend who will be staying here frequently? Are you promiscuous? (Do not be afraid to ask this one. You probably don't want strange people sleeping over a lot.)
  • Do you smoke? Drink? Do drugs? If yes to any, how often?
  • Do you stay out late on weekdays?
  • Did/do you have any credit problems?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • What is your occupation?
  • What do you like to watch on television? What music do you listen to?

Whatever you ask, in the end you should feel very comfortable with your future roommate. If you do not, you are taking a big risk shacking up with this person. Don't say we didn't tell you if things don't work out.