Stony Brook's close proximity to the Big Apple makes this borough a hot commodity. This is New York, after all, and Stony Brook is in the dead center of Long Island. Sixty miles by rail gets you into New York City, so be warned: Finding a place will not be a walk in the park.
When to Rent
There is a big changeover of residents during December and April. This can either be a great time to find a recently vacated rental, or the worst time imaginable. If you'd prefer to not get your heart set on that perfect little place with a view of the harbor, only to lose it to someone else who clearly deserves it less than you, then stick to the middle months (October-November and February-March), when fewer potential tenants are looking.
What You Need
When renting an apartment in Stony Brook, be sure to bring along the fairly standard renter's portfolio: good credit, cash in the bank for a security deposit, first month's rent, recent pay stubs, and references (if they're good). Although Stony Brook has public transportation and a rail system into the city, you'll need a car in most parts of town unless you really, really love to walk, as the WalkScore is only 28.
There are three major 'hoods which make up most of Stony Brook: the area around Stony Brook Hospital (one of the largest on Long Island); the "town center," which is actually the northernmost part of town, by the coast; and everything else. We'll break down the differences between them.
Town Center: So named because this is where Stony Brook started in the '30s, with a quaint clapboard-sided, semi-circle row of buildings known as "the village." If you are looking for a mix of urban sophisticate / New England coastal setting, then Town Center is the place for you.
University / Hospital: While Town Center does have some smaller apartment buildings, the majority of rental homes are in this area. Demand is high for premier apartments, mostly by students, but the amenities make this a great place for people of all ages. Much of the campus is open to the public, including an indoor sports center and a crafts center where you can take classes in all sorts of artistic endeavors, and this area is host to an annual summer film festival. There are plenty of restaurants, pubs, and shops to which you can easily walk or bike as well -- Mirabelle Restaurant and Pentimento Restaurant come highly recommended.
The Rest: This is near the south end of town, and contains mostly large single-family, owner-occupied homes. Rentals here are rare.
When you don't feel like whipping up dinner, there's plenty of options for you when it comes to eating out. Check out Pentimento restaurant, Country House Restaurant, Green Cactus Fresh Mexican Grill, or Mirabelle Restaurant. If you're looking for green spaces, check out the West Meadow Wetlands Preserve or St. Georges Country Club.