How much it costs
The city of Hempstead ranges from the uber-fancy to the downright shabby, so it is hard to put a price tag on rents in general. Top-shelf 3 bedroom apartments for rent in Hempstead will cost about as much as in an upscale Brooklyn neighborhood, but you will get more house for your money, as well as some outside landscaped greenery. Come on, who doesn't love a back or front yard? On the low end, a 1 bedroom apartment in a downtrodden neighborhood should be about the same as any comparably shabby part of New York city. The benefit of living out in Hempstead, as opposed to Brooklyn or Manhattan, is that the homes usually come with small yards, something which is almost unheard of in NYC.
Finding your apartment
In most neighborhoods, it doesnt really matter much what time of year you start your search. The only neighborhoods where this isn't true is in the areas directly surrounding Hofstra University, where students arrive en masse in the fall, scrambling to find apartments. If you need to live within walking distance to Hofstra, start your search plenty early at least 3 months in advance. Since neighborhoods range wildly in Hempstead, you would be very wise to personally check the area out before agreeing to anything both during the daytime and at night. What looks great during the day, may be as bad as a Freddie Krueger nightmare at night. OK, maybe not that bad, but you get the point. It might take a bit of searching to find an apartment for rent in Hempstead that is in an area around where you wont be afraid to walk.
What youll need
Getting yourself a pad in Hempstead will usually require you to show proof that you can actually cough up the rent at the end of the month. In some neighborhoods, landlords have had to boot out multiple deadbeat tenants over the years, so it will be on you to prove yourself otherwise. A good rule of thumb is to be able to show your income as 3 times the rent amount. This can be tough to do sometimes. If your income and credit don't seem to be impressing landlords much, you can try tempting them with the offer of 3 months rent paid in advance.
You didn't think we were going to leave you on your own to find the right neighborhood did you? Nah, we have you covered. Here is a description of the areas in Hampstead:
The Heights: This is the part of town sandwiched between Clinton Street and Westbury Blvd, fanning out to the intersection of Commercial Ave and Oak St. In recent years, Hempstead Heights has gotten a lot of flack due to crime, but there are nicer pockets in the area. Lots of tree-lined streets in this area and fenced-in yards make it a decent place for families on a budget. $$
Terrace: The neighborhood around Terrace Ave is lined with multi-story brick apartment complexes. These apartments are usually cheaper than single family homes in the area, but you dont get the grassy yard. Make sure you stake out the building you are thinking about renting before moving in, visiting a few times at various hours of the day to get a feel for your neighbors. $
Trackside: The area known as "Trackside" occupies the area around the rail station, from Clinton Street to the east to Franklin Street on the west side. This neighborhood has some pretty run-down blocks, with quite a few boarded up houses, but even amongst these are well-kept homes and 1 and 2 bedroom apartments. You will probably need to do a walk-by of the neighborhood yourself if you want to live here to make sure you are comfortable with it. $
Hofstra University:East of town is home to Hofstra University, which has a pretty large student population. The campus is sort of a bubble in the neighborhood, but students also live about 3 blocks deep around the school. Streets right around the university can get rowdy and noisy, so keep that in mind when searching. In general, the Hofstra neighborhood is a mix of downtrodden blocks of houses interspersed with pockets of posh homes for students. $$$
Hempstead Country Club: This part of Hempstead is just a short stroll from the inner-city blocks of central Hempstead, but it changes real fast. The area around the country club and Hempstead Lake State Park are very nice neighborhoods. The difference between the East side of Terrace Ave and what lies west of it are extreme concrete gives way to mature trees, and yards suddenly morph into beautiful gardens with swimming pools in their backyards. $$$$
Garden City: The town of Garden City blends right into Hempstead to the northwest. Seen from above, it is as if someone painted one side of the town green and left the other cement-gray. Garden City is a pretty swanky neighborhood, with huge houses on giant suburban lots with massive trees shading them. This is true suburban living, and the area has seen huge jumps in home values over the year. Expect to pay a pretty penny to live here. Don't plan on finding a small place to save money. It can be hard to find something small in Garden City. Even the smaller homes look like mansions, compared to homes in the surrounding areas. $$$$$
Since most of Hempstead is so urban, you dont really need a car to get around, but having one is still a good idea. Hempstead has quick and easy rail access to NYC and other surrounding areas, and buses go in all directions as well. Getting around town on foot can be sketchy in some neighborhoods, especially at night. If you walk, make sure your laces are tied and wear your running shoes.
What to do
Compared to Manhattan or Brooklyn, life in Hempstead and the rest of Long Island can seem pretty dull. The people who live here are content to trade a little action for some peace and quiet. While there are plenty of restaurants, shopping malls and movie theaters in the area, for more action than that you will probably want to venture into the city.
Parks and recreation
One of the best things about living in Hempstead is its proximity to parks and green areas. For more exercise than playing b-ball at the tiny urban parks in town, head to Hempstead Lake State Park, just west of town. This is a great place to ride bikes or jog around the park. For swimming, head to Jones Beach, one of the best places to escape NYC, and it's just a short drive to the south. Go early on summer weekends, since it can be so crowded that you literally cant find a place to put your towel on this huge beach!