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How to Find an Apartment in Brooklyn (without a Broker) [2024]

May 13, 2024
Thinking about moving to Brooklyn? Learn about the average rent prices, best neighborhoods, and how to find an apartment in Brooklyn.

Renting anywhere in New York City can be a challenging endeavor, but Brooklyn’s rich culture, iconic shops, and intriguing residents are more than enough to keep the demand for Brooklyn apartments sky high. If you count yourself among those looking to move to Brooklyn, we’ve got you covered.

While an apartment broker can help you narrow down your options, if you don't want to pay broker fees, or you simply want to be in charge of your own search, then it’s important to go into your apartment hunt with a good idea of what you’re looking for and what you can expect during the process.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about how to find an apartment in Brooklyn, NY. Interested in seeing a few places without venturing outside before you get started? Check out these ten great tours from Maya Beatriz on YouTube:

How to Find an Apartment in Brooklyn

How Much Is Rent in Brooklyn?

As of May 2024, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment among those currently listed on our website is $3,371. Two-bedrooms run around $4,347 per month. Note that these are based on currently available listings, so actual rent averages may differ. The current overall median rent in NYC is $2,302.

View of Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline - New York City downtown, photographed from Manhattan Bridge

1. Do You Need a Broker to Find an Apartment in Brooklyn?

No, you don't necessarily need a broker to find an apartment in Brooklyn. As of May 2024, Apartment List currently has over 500 Brooklyn apartments available for rent, and you can start the touring and application process anytime through our tools and those of other listing websites. However, you will commonly hear people recommending a broker to find apartment in NYC, and there are a few reasons for that, such as

  • Access to More Listings: Brokers may have access to exclusive listings not advertised publicly.
  • Saves Time and Effort: A good broker can streamline your search by understanding your needs and showing you relevant listings. Brooklyn is a large place, and finding the right location could require a lot of effort, especially if you're not an expert.
  • Negotiation Skills: A skilled broker can negotiate rent prices and lease terms on your behalf, potentially saving you money in the long run.

If you're going to take on the apartment hunt solo, no worries! Keep on reading to learn how to find an apartment in Brooklyn without a broker.

2. How to Find the Best Brooklyn Neighborhood

Learning how to find an apartment in Brooklyn starts with knowing where in Kings County you want to live. But the fact is there are tons of great neighborhoods in Brooklyn and choosing the right one for you can be a challenge.

To help you start your search, here’s a quick list of the best neighborhoods in Brooklyn (click on the highlighted text to see a longer list). The rent averages below are based on current (May 2024) apartment listings.

1. Bushwick

Bushwick is a flourishing neighborhood that has grown substantially since early 2000. As a result, the neighborhood is home to a unique combination of long-term residents, multiple generations, and many new residents.

You’ll find Bushwick’s streets lined with restaurants wafting the scent of delicious cuisine from all over the world. Beyond good eats, there are plenty of Bushwick apartments on the market, so you can take your time choosing one that fits your needs best. If possible, try landing an apartment near one of Bushwick’s neighborhood highlights, such as Maria Hernandez Park or Irving Square Park.

2. Downtown Brooklyn

If you’re looking to reap all the benefits that Brooklyn has to offer, then your best bet is to land an apartment in the downtown area. As the heart of Brooklyn and its thriving industry, you’ll feel a distinct buzz in Downtown Brooklyn that is unique among the neighbhorhoods ont his list.

With tons of renovation projects happening in Downtown Brooklyn, moving there means living among some construction and lots of traffic, but also the energy of ongoing revitalization. The location is especially perfect for anyone commuting to Manhattan.

3. Prospect Heights

  • Average one-bedroom rent: $4,032
  • Map of Prospect Heights

Foodies love the collection of restaurants in Prospect Heights, which range from nearly 100-year-old sit-down diners to quick takeout spots. Residents also love the quirky neighborhood design with its jutting buildings and odd angles as well as the iconic, tree-lined streets and gorgeous row houses.

Cyclists, commuters, and leisurely strollers will also appreciate Prospect Heights, as it runs through the heart of Brooklyn and offers amazing views and stopping points all the way through.

4. Park Slope

The picturesque brownstones that line Park Slope’s streets give the neighborhood a charmingly quaint feel. However, Park Slope is far from a sleepy neighborhood. Its streets are typically busy. If you find yourself on Fifth or Seventh Avenue during working hours, expect a throng of shoppers.

As home to the Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Central Library, Park Slope is the perfect place for anyone who is always looking to embark on a new adventure in their neighborhood.

Despite being one of the most famous neighborhoods in Brooklyn, it's important for us to note that Park Slope isn’t the most expensive on our list. Check out current Park Slope listings to see if it's a good fit for you.

5. Williamsburg

Williamsburg may be one of the best demonstrations of all that Brooklyn has to offer a prospective renter. Diversity, historic architecture, a flourishing art community, and a great location make Williamsburg a high-demand destination for most Brooklyn renters.

Although Williamsburg is home to an amazing nightlife scene, one of its main attractions is its proximity to Greenpoint. The neighboring Greenpoint features one of the highest rent rates in Brooklyn, but also one of the most thriving nightlife scenes.

Living in Williamsburg puts you at a fraction of the cost of living in Greenpoint, so you can enjoy its amenities without burning through your life savings.

3. How to Find Cheap Apartments in Brooklyn?

In Brooklyn, finding an apartment you can afford is an art that starts with choosing the right neighborhood.

There are plenty of great neighborhoods that aren’t too expensive, but a few stand out among the rest. Here’s a quick look at the Brooklyn neighborhoods with the low average rent for a one-bedroom apartment:

1. Crown Heights

Crown Heights is a vibrant neighborhood in central Brooklyn that offers a good balance between affordability and access to trendy restaurants, bars, and shops.

Rent prices in Crown Heights are among some of the lowest in Brooklyn. Here, you'll find a mix of pre-war brownstones and modern apartment buildings. The neighborhood is well-connected by subway lines, making it easy to get around the city. Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden are all within walking distance.

2. Bedford-Stuyvesant

Bedford-Stuyvesant (aka "Bed-Stuy") is a Brooklyn favorite known for its iconic brownstones and strong sense of community. Though rent has gone up in recent years, compared to some of its trendier Brooklyn neighbors, it can still offer a good value, particularly for those seeking spacious apartments.

Bed-Stuy boasts a vibrant restaurant scene with a focus on Caribbean cuisine, and it's a haven for artists and musicians. The neighborhood is well-served by subway lines, and several parks provide green space. If you're looking for a lively and culturally rich Brooklyn experience, Bed-Stuy is a great option to consider.

3. Flatbush

Flatbush offers a mix of vibrant commercial areas and quiet residential streets, making it a popular choice for families and young professionals alike. While it boasts a higher average rent than Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy, Flatbush can still be a more affordable option than some trendier Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Here, you'll find a diverse range of housing options, from pre-war apartments to modern high-rises. Flatbush also offers a variety of green spaces, including Prospect Park and several smaller parks. The neighborhood is well-connected by subway lines, with express service to Manhattan.

4. What’s the Best Time to Find an Apartment in Brooklyn?

According to our database of rental estimates, in the past few years, rent prices in New York City have been lowest during the winter months, with the lowest averages falling somewhere between December and February. The highest average rent prices are usually seen in August and September. That's consistent with national trends, which usually see the rents fall during winter months when people are less likely to move.

However, the best time of year to rent is not always determined by rent prices. Here are the two main factors that affect the best time of your to rent:

  • For Affordability: Rent in the winter months if you are looking to save big on your Brooklyn apartment. With greatly reduced activity in the rental market and fewer renters looking for new homes, landlords and property managers seek to fill vacant units by dropping rent prices or offering incentives through move-in specials.
  • For the Best of the Market: Rent in the summer months if you want to choose from the best options in the Brooklyn area. Not only are more units available in the summer months, but you likely won’t be the only new face in the neighborhood, as August denotes the moving season’s peak.

If you want to expand your search beyond those neighborhoods, it’s a matter of being strategic. Scour listings for move-in specials (or just Apartment List’s Move-In Specials Filter), which can save you money on rent, provide discounts, or advertise other incentives to sweeten the deal.

Finally, it’s important to note that if you are looking for a short-term lease or a month-to-month lease, you can expect to pay higher rent rates.

Taking advantage of the seasonality in renting can help you fulfill your dreams of renting a Brooklyn apartment.

Seasonality in Apartment Rent Prices

5. Determine Your Budget for a Brooklyn Apartment

Renters are typically, though not always, expected to make three times the monthly rent. Luckily, New York recently passed a law eliminating the requirement for renters to provide last month’s rent at the time of signing. That said, you’ll still need to cover the cost of your security deposit and first month’s rent to lease a Brooklyn apartment, which can be quite costly.

Similarly, we use a budgeting rule that says rent should not be more than 30% of your income in order to live anywhere comfortably (i.e. have money left over for entertainment and savings). In Bed-Stuy, where the average one-bedroom rent is $1,697, you would need to earn around $68,000 to comfortably afford a one-bedroom. That salary goes up to $160,000 a year to live in Williamsburg at a current average one-bedroom price of $3,979.

Fortunately, if you plan well in advance and make use of an apartment budgeting checklist, you’ll be able to make the financial transition to your new apartment successfully.

Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn, NY

6. Consider Your Commute Time

When it comes to commuting in New York, public transit is king. Not only is it easy to get around via New York’s extensive bus and subway system, but the city is a veritable walker’s paradise, according to its 88 walk score.

It’s a good idea to plot out different commutes from your preferred Brooklyn neighborhoods. Not only will this provide accurate time estimates that you can work from, but it will also allow you to choose the travel mode you most prefer.

7. Prepare for Apartment Tours

Hot take: Apartment tours are fun.

Imagining how amazing your new couch will look in the living room or how your dining table will seat all your friends for your housewarming is objectively fun.

Unfortunately, all that fun can make it difficult to focus on the less glitzy, though equally important parts of your tour, namely getting an idea of what it’s like to live in an apartment owned by a landlord or management company.

When you schedule an apartment tour, be sure to have prepared a list of questions to ask your prospective landlord. You can flesh out the details of living in the unit, including rent price, pet-friendliness, amenities, parking, and more.

While you’re expertly bombarding your landlord with questions, you’ll need to assess the apartment’s condition.

Check outlets, windows, appliances, and anything else you see. It may seem like you’re doing too much, but when it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into (literally).

If there are any issues with the unit, you can address them during the tour.

Downtown Brooklyn

8. Applying for Your Brooklyn Apartment

Once you’ve found a Brooklyn apartment that seems like a good fit for you and meets all your needs, you need to snap it up!

The Brooklyn rental market can move quickly and leave unwitting prospective renters in the dust, meaning it’s crucial to start the apartment application process as soon as possible when you’ve found a good match.

Luckily, the process is relatively simple. Simply fill out and submit an application form. You’ll need to provide information and documents that verify your identity, income, and the contact information of a few references to attest to your good character.

Keep in mind that you may have to pay an application fee to cover the cost of a credit and background check, but the amount won’t exceed $20 per application. Your fees and information will be used to complete the tenant screening process.

During this process, the landlord or property manager will assess your application and information to determine whether you have the right credit score to rent an apartment, solid finances, and a history of being a good tenant.

If you’re approved, congrats! You’ll need to sign a lease agreement to seal the deal. Just be sure to read and re-read your lease agreement before signing!

9. Protect Yourself from Rental Scams

Rental fraud is a serious issue for US renters, with over $5.2 million lost to scammers annually, according to a report we conducted.

Worse yet, one-in-three fraud victims have lost $1,000+ to scams, which is why it pays to be diligent when trying to avoid rent scams.

Always follow the rental golden rule: “Never pay or sign anything until you’re sure it’s not a scam. Even then, double-check.”

Ready to Find Your Brooklyn Apartment?

Apartment list mobile matches

Ready to move to Brooklyn? Apartment List is here to help you find your dream home.

Here’s how it works: First, we get to know you by having you answer a few simple questions and so we can find your best matches. Then, we mix and match your personalized results, making it easy to discover places with the perfect combination of price, location, and amenities.

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Dr. Katherine Blake
CONTENT EDITOR
Dr. Katherine Blake is a content editor with Apartment List, where she helps ensure our renter and rental management content is fresh and informed by the latest data. Read More
Davina Ward
DAVINA WARD
Davina G. Ward is an esteemed journalist and expert on the apartment rental market. Read More

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