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How to Find an Apartment in Brooklyn

By: Davina Ward
August 30, 2021

Renting anywhere in New York City can be a challenging endeavor, even for the most seasoned renter. However, Brooklyn’s rich culture, intriguing residents, famed attractions, and gorgeous views are more than enough to keep new residents coming.

If you count yourself among those looking to move to Brooklyn, we’ve got you covered.

While your apartment broker will help you narrow down your options 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.

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.

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.

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. Stores also have a diverse selection of ingredients, so you can play world chef in your apartment.

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 Downtown Brooklyn.

As the heart of Brooklyn and its thriving industry, you’ll feel a distinct buzz in this neighborhood that reflects its bustling nature.

With tons of revitalization and renovation projects going on in Downtown Brooklyn, moving there means living among some construction and lots of traffic.

However, its location makes it the perfect place to call home for anyone commuting to Manhattan or anyone who loves a good shopping trip, as Fulton Mall boasts tons of stores and recreational opportunities.

3. Prospect Heights

There’s a lot to love about Prospect Heights.

Foodies love the collection of restaurants in the neighborhood, which range from nearly 100-year-old sit-down diners to quick takeout spots.

Residents love the quirky neighborhood design with its jutting buildings and odd angles. They also love the iconic, tree-lined streets and gorgeous row houses.

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

If you think Prospect Heights might be a good fit for you, you’re in luck. There are tons of units on the market and lots of variety, ranging from the distinctly luxurious to the decidedly not.

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, Park Slope isn’t wildly expensive. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Park Slope is a relatively low $2,802.

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.

How Much are Apartments in Brooklyn?

Brooklyn follows the rent price trends of the greater New York City area, with higher rent prices than the national average. Here are the average apartment rental prices in Brooklyn.

That said, the borough is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic and has not yet fully recovered.

According to our Brooklyn Rent Report, Brooklyn has seen a 3.53% rise in rent prices over the past month, though is still down 7.91% compared to the same time last year. Here’s some additional Brooklyn rent price information to consider:

  • 3% of apartments in Brooklyn cost less than $1,000 per month.
  • 3% of apartments in Brooklyn cost between $1,000-$1,999 per month.
  • 3% of apartments in Brooklyn cost between $2,000-$2,999 per month.
  • 3% of apartments in Brooklyn cost over $3,000 per month.

Renting in Brooklyn doesn’t have to break the bank. One of the biggest financial benefits of renting in Brooklyn and NYC as a whole is the numerous tenant protection laws in place.

These laws place a $20 limit on background and credit check fees. Additionally, security deposits may not exceed more than one month’s rent. So, while renting an apartment in Brooklyn may not be the cheapest option around, it’s certainly got some financial upside.

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 lowest average rent for a one-bedroom apartment:

  • Crown Heights: $1,973
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant: $2,182
  • Flatbush: $2,220

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.

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

One of the best ways to get the most out of your Brooklyn apartment hunt is to be deliberate with its timing.

You’ll need to know when the best time of year to rent is to make an informed decision on the matter. So, here’s a brief breakdown of the best time of year to rent an apartment in Brooklyn.

  • 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.

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

However, when it comes down to it, time is the best gift you can give yourself during your hunt. Whenever possible, schedule your search and move well in advance!

How to Find an Apartment?

Once you’ve done all the prep work, finding an apartment is a breeze. Here are all the essential steps TO renting an apartment in Brooklyn.

Determine Your Budget

Renting an apartment requires strict budgeting, though renting an apartment in New York City requires herculean-level budgeting and, frankly, a fair amount of money.

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.

For example, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn is $2,786, meaning to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, you’ll need to be able to provide a minimum of $5,572 upfront.

That amount doesn’t even cover the cost of apartment necessities, such as furnishings, groceries, and setting up utilities. 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.

Set Your Apartment Priorities

Though it’s a good start, apartment priorities go beyond determining what neighborhood you want to live in.

When you're trying to determine what features you want in an apartment, it’s a matter of answering the question, “How do I want to live?”

While this might seem like a philosophical question, it’s simply a good way to consider your current lifestyle and living situation and how it will change in your new home.

For example, if you’re tired of dragging a wagon of your laundry down the street to the nearest laundromat every week, you might prefer that your new apartment features in-unit laundry.

Perhaps you’ve sweat through enough shirts in the summers in a unit without central air and now refuse to live without it.

Choosing your must-have apartment amenities is the best way to narrow down your options to only units that truly meet your needs.

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.

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.

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!

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.”

Using Apartment List to Find Your Brooklyn Apartment

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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AUTHOR
Davina Ward is a contributing author at Apartment List and freelance writer specializing in real estate and digital marketing. She received her B. Read More
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