Moving to Brooklyn on a budget

Excited about moving to Brooklyn? You certainly are as moving to the Big Apple is a really big thing. This is where they say the wildest dreams come true. No matter what you wish for or work for, you’ll be having your best shot at it in New York. So let’s go then! Of course, it’s easier said than done as New York City is one of the most expensive places in the country. How to save some money and still move over there? Moving to Brooklyn on a budget maybe? Not so fast!

Brooklyn used to be a cheap alternative to moving to Manhattan, but things have changed quite a lot. Prices have been rising in Brooklyn, rents have gone up and costs of food and life, in general, keep getting higher and higher. Is it all over? Fortunately not, as there’s still a chance to move to Brooklyn on a budget. It’s not as easy as it used to be, but it’s manageable. Here are some tips to help you do it.

Brooklyn Bridge
Moving to Brooklyn? Challenges ahead!

You either compromise on the size or location when moving to Brooklyn

There are three main things we’re all looking for when searching for an apartment: location, size, and price. Every New Yorker will tell you: when renting an apartment in NYC you must give up on at least one of those, right at the start. Yes, some people rent a spacious apartment in a great location and pay a fortune. But most of us either end up with a small apartment in a bearable location or with a bit larger one that’s too far away. Sometimes, you might even need to come to terms with a small apartment in a horrible location. It happens. That’s New York.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a “spacious apartment” has a very different meaning in New York City and almost anywhere else in the States. What’s “big” and “spacious” in Manhattan or Brooklyn is “big” and “spacious” nowhere else. The sooner you accept that, the better you’ll be off to search for your Brooklyn apartment.

Brooklyn was not always that way, but – things have changed. It started with the Brooklyn areas that are closest to Manhattan, which have been gentrified 15 years ago. As one could have expected, rents have gone up since then. Some of them are now as expensive as their counterparts in Manhattan. So the only option you have now when moving to Brooklyn is to search for your new apartment away from these areas. To know where to look for, make sure to check NYC Police Precinct reports and your neighborhoods’ median rents. That should give you an idea of what it looks like to live in a particular neighborhood.

Classifieds are not always trustworthy

This may catch you off guard, but there are many posters who simply lie about their apartment location. They would tell you the apartment is in a lovely, safe neighborhood, but once you get there, you find out that it’s actually miles away – and not in such a great neighborhood at all. Don’t get discouraged when something like this happens. Just hang on and keep searching. Searching for an apartment in Brooklyn is usually quite challenging. You should be ready for that even before you move to Brooklyn.

Moving to Brooklyn
It’s usually either the size or the location of your apartment – you choose.

Negotiating with your broker

Did you know this is an option? But let’s start with stating the obvious: wherever you’re coming from, you’ve probably expected that your landlord is going to cover the broker’s fee. After all, this is the way it’s done anywhere in the world (or at least in the States). Yet, the day has come, you’ve just started looking for an apartment in Brooklyn and to your dismay, you’ve found out that things are being very different in New York (yet again!). In this city, a fee is usually associated with the listing.

Is there anything you could do about that? Not really, but some changes have been rolling out by themselves. The situation is now almost favoring prospective tenants. Landlords are starting to think more about their own competition and are sometimes willing to pay half of the fee or even the total of it, as they want to keep the tenant. Moving to Brooklyn has got somewhat easier in that regard.

What’s the standard broker’s fee in Brooklyn?

It’s 15% of your annual rent. But the great news is that according to the New York state law you’re allowed to negotiate with the broker, so you might end up reducing the fee to just one month. How about that?

Do you want to avoid brokers all together?

It’s possible upon moving to Brooklyn, but it’s not so easy. You should check exclusive listings since most of them do not require any fee or look for an agency that works with no-fee inventory. Where can you find those? You might want to check PropertyNest, Streeteasy or Zillow.

Another way to deal with this is to consider a month-to-month rental until you get a chance to learn more about Brooklyn and to find out the places you’ll really love.

Brooklyn streets - something you will see right after moving to Brooklyn.
Everyday life in Brooklyn

Less is more

As apartments in NYC (Brooklyn included) come in small sizes, you won’t be able to take with you all the stuff you had while you were living in – any other city that’s not New York. You’d be much better off to leave it all behind, as many things as possible.

This will help you achieve a few things:

  • Save some money as fewer things mean lower transportation costs.
  • Save some more money as that also means lower packing costs (should you decide to hire professional assistance).
  • Earn some money if you sell some of the stuff you no longer need. You could do that both online and offline.

Don’t be afraid to get rid of your car

You can survive living in Brooklyn with no car, 57% of its residents are doing just that, while 55% of New Yorkers overall are doing the same. If you choose the right neighborhood, it will only be up to your preference to keep your car or to get rid of it. You could decide to sell it and rely on the subway. Or if you ever need a taxi, make sure to hail a classic yellow cab or use Uber of Lyft. Do not use any of the private car services if you don’t want additional costs.