How to Find an Apartment Near Columbia University

Finding housing in New York can be a challenge. For students juggling university life without much income or credit history, the hurdles can be even greater. To find an apartment near Columbia University, you'll need to dive into the quest prepared and informed.


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    Reach out to your own network and ask for advice. Who do you know that has bought or rented an off campus apartment near Columbia University? How did they do it? Were they working with a licensed real estate agent? Did they do a good job? You never know if what you see online is real or current, so before you start browsing through an endless sea of advertisements, ask your friends and see if they know someone they can refer to you. Not saying that all ads are misleading, but it's always better to do business with someone referred to you who your friends know, like and trust.
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    Call your mother. Chances are your parents have rented more apartments in their life than you have. They will have a perspective that might save you time, money and stress, and help you see things you didn't see. So before you sign anything or even begin looking for an apartment near Columbia, call your parents to discuss what exactly you need and have it written down. If you don't know what you want you'll never get it.
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    Organize your finances. In NYC , landlords will want to see that a tenant earns at least 40 times the rent. If not they will want a guarantor who earns at least 80 times the rent, and if no U.S guarantor is available they will want the rent to be paid in advance for the year plus 2-4 months security. The laws in NYC favor tenants so it's very difficult to get somebody out of an apartment once they've moved in and stopped paying. So to find an apartment near Columbia make sure you know exactly how much money is available and that you're not looking for something that is outside your budget. If you don't have a guarantor it's not the end of the world.
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    Take a walk. Sometimes great deals are from walking the streets near Columbia and looking for signs. It's important that you know the neighborhoods so you're only looking for something in areas you like. Everybody wants to be as close to the school as possible, but remember proximity to the school will increase the price. There could be incredible deals within a 10-20 minute train ride. Do you want to walk to school or graduate debt free? Save money now so you can spend more later. Give yourself some time to walk the neighborhoods and see what your budget will get for you all over the Upper West Side, Morning side Heights, Harlem and even Hamilton Heights.
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    Bring all the roommates with you. You're not buying a cup of coffee. You're about to make a commitment for a year involving other people's money. So do yourself , your prospective roommates and your broker a favor and make sure everyone is present at the showings . Otherwise you won't be able to make a decision , and while you "sleep on it" or wait several hours for your roommates to wake up because they are still halfway around the world it's possible your dream apartment could be rented to somebody else. All decision makers must be present or it will be very difficult and stressful for you to lock down an apartment fast enough in today's market.


  • Anything vacant the landlord will want to rent immediately, so don't expect an empty apartment to sit for a month until you move in. Sometimes you have to pay a little extra to secure a great location.
  • Paperwork that you'll need is a valid government issued ID, verification that you're enrolled in school (a letter from Columbia and/or proof of the tuition deposit that you paid) and a bank statement showing you have funds here in the states and can pay your rent. Your Guarantor will need to demonstrate they are a U.S citizen and earn at least 80 times the rent. So in general that is the following:
    • Valid government issued ID
    • 2 Most recent Tax Returns
    • Bank Statement
    • Verification of Employment Letter (If self employed, this would be a letter from an accountant)
    • 3 most recent pay stubs
  • Wear comfortable shoes. You'll be doing a lot of walking, so it's imperative that you can still walk after you're done looking for apartments.


  • Don't put money down on a place unless you've seen it in person, or if the broker you're dealing with is someone referred to you and the photos/video they send you is the actual apartment you're renting.
  • Don't get caught up in the money. Any smart real estate agent will be flexible with their broker fee if they can. Why rent one apartment when they can rent ten, right? However there are circumstances where they can't discount the fee and it's not personal , it's business. When 10 people want the same apartment and they're all offering 15% , there's no reason why he/she has to give you a lower rate. Also in every transaction there is a real estate agent who represents the landlord and one who represents the tenant, so in many cases the commission would have to be split in half between two brokerages. But if the apartment is worth it everything will work out. Just imagine yourself near Columbia in your own apartment. It's just money. You can't put a price on peace of mind.

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Categories: College University and Postgraduate | Renting