NYC captivates people with its vibrant culture, diversity, and its fast-paced hustle and bustle—but limited space and overwhelming demand make it the most expensive U.S. city to rent a home.

NYC rent prices are soaring

According to Zumper’s National Rent Report, the 1-bedroom median rent price in NYC is $3,600 as of June 2022. That’s a staggering 40% increase in median rent price over the same time last year. 

Needless to say, today’s rental market prices in NYC are not renter-friendly, and many renters are pinching pennies trying to find a rental unit within their budget. Even rent renewal prices are skyrocketing. Occupancy is at an all-time high, and individuals are struggling to find any—let alone any affordable—homes to rent. Additionally, soaring inflation means that the already expensive costs of moving are even higher than normal—inhibiting renters from moving.

To help you save money wherever possible as you search for your next rental in NYC, we’ve compiled 4 tips on how to make renting in NYC more affordable. 

4 tips on how to make renting in NYC more affordable

Assess where you can save on move-in fees

Upwards of 71% of renters report that high upfront move-in costs are their biggest barrier to renting, according to Rhino survey data. Fees associated with renting an apartment rack up quickly! Knowing what fees you’ll probably need to pay and figuring out how to cut them down is a great first step to making renting that NYC apartment more affordable.

What are the normal fees associated with renting an apartment?  Whether you want a studio apartment in Hell’s Kitchen or a three-bedroom in Bushwick, renting an apartment in New York is expensive. To just secure a new place, you’re likely to fork over thousands just to get the keys. Here is a list of fees you’re likely to pay prior to moving in: 

  • One month’s rent

  • Broker’s fee

  • Security deposit

  • Pet deposit 

  • Pet fees

  • Renters insurance

  • Rental application fee

  • Credit check fee

  • Background check fee 

  • Subletting fees (especially if you’re subletting in a co-op)

Phew! Don’t you wish you could skip one, two, or all of these fees? Lucky for you, no-fee rental listings are out there, at a slightly lower upfront cost than renting an apartment.

Search for a no-fee apartment 

What is a no-fee apartment? In New York, a no-fee apartment is considered “no-fee” when the renter doesn’t have to pay a broker’s fee. Meaning you may not work with a broker, a common practice when renting an NYC apartment, or that the property managers or landlord pay the fee on your behalf. Sometimes a no-fee apartment is also deposit-free, with no associated fees except first month’s rent to move in. Either way, you’re saving big time by not having to pay a broker. Brokers dominate the NYC apartment rental market as most landlords work with brokerages or real estate agents to show multiple rental apartments and properties on their behalf. A broker’s fee is basically a pricey finder’s fee, and can amount to 12-15% of the annual rent. Meaning before you even get to move in, you have to pay thousands to the broker for finding the apartment for you. 

You can see now why you should keep a look out for no-fee listings on Streeteasy and Zillow. Keep in mind that a no-fee rental is not the same as a deposit-free rental, meaning you’re probably going to pay a hefty security deposit even though you skip the broker’s fee unless you find an apartment that offers Rhino. That brings us to our next tip.  

Find a rental that offers Rhino

The major downside of choosing to pay a cash security deposit is that it can typically cost you thousands of dollars out of pocket. Most renters don’t have that kind of cash on hand, and even if they do, they would rather put that money toward their move. 

Sure, you can get some or all of the security deposit back after you move out, but renters often have to fight to get their security deposit back.  

What exactly is Rhino’s security deposit insurance? Security deposit insurance replaces the cash deposit, but still protects the rental unit from damage and unpaid rent. Unlike renters insurance, security deposit insurance doesn’t protect your personal belongings, but the home itself for the owner. 

When a renter chooses to use Rhino security deposit insurance, the renter pays small monthly payments as low as $4 per month* instead of paying a cash deposit. 

Your monthly payments won’t be refunded, but renters who use Rhino save on average $1,000 dollars upfront when they move into a new apartment. That’s more money for necessities like groceries, new furniture, childcare, or even investments. What a relief. If your rental offers Rhino, you can bundle your security deposit insurance with low-cost renter’s insurance to protect your personal property, too. Many NYC apartments require renter’s insurance, so getting a great rate with Rhino means that you can kill two birds with one stone.

Lastly, Rhino also offers guarantor coverage for all NYC renters that don’t have an annual income of over 40x rent. You can read more about determining if you need a guarantor hereLearn how to rent with Rhino here.

Consider moving to NYC in the winter

Far fewer renters are apartment hunting in the winter months between December and March. This means less competition when exploring the rental market and allows a renter an easier time to negotiate a lower price. Cities with colder winters, like NYC, see the greatest decrease in rent prices during those times, so if you are looking in cities with colder winters the optimal time to start your apartment search is when the weather starts to turn.

Renting in NYC is expensive

All of that said, renting in NYC is simply going to be expensive. You’re probably not going to be able to follow the informal 30% rule where your monthly rent price is under 30% of your income. However, we hope that you take advantage of these 4 tips to cut down moving costs as you search for a home in NYC!

Remember to search for “Rhino apartments” in NYC to save $$$ on your cash deposit. You won’t regret it.

Have a rental in mind? Check to see if they offer Rhino here.

*Pricing will vary by individual renter. Actual rates determined based on the specific information provided to Rhino. Monthly payment plans may not be available to all renters.

Danae Martin's Headshot
Danae Martin

Danae Martin is a Growth Lead at Rhino. She enjoys soaking up sunshine, exploring new cities, and lifting heavy weights.