Finding My First Solo Apartment

This post is sponsored by Zumper. Opinions are my own.

You’ve heard the apartment hunting stories - or, nightmares rather - and I’m telling you there’s lots of truth to them. I recently decided to take the challenge of moving into a solo apartment meaning I had to do all the searching, vetting and signing on my own (*cue music*).

Living downtown had been such a highlight, but the trouble is the spaces are rather small for the buck. So, I decided to keep the location more open to see where that would take me. While that is a bonus, it also made the search a little more difficult because it felt like the options were endless!

To alleviate the burden of the search, technology was my best friend. I’ve mentioned a few apps and resources in the past and decided to give something new a try: Zumper.

Born out of frustration by the old way of renting, Zumper creates a smooth, efficient and transparent renting process for both tenants and landlords. You can search for specific amenities, create alerts to notify you of similar listings, and find specific neighborhood information such as rent prices and demographics. Ok, ok I had to give it a try.

If you’re relocating to NYC or just moving nearby in the city, Zumper Select, available in New York and Chicago, takes the hassle out of apartment hunting. Tell them your move-in date and budget, and from there the experts will help you find options that fit your needs.

Zumper Rental App

So: where did all that take me?

After sorting through apartments that would fulfill my wishlist, I found myself looking mostly in the Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, or Midtown area. I gave myself 6 weeks to search, with alerts on, and used my weekends for viewings. Things to keep in mind:

  • 3-4 weeks out is the sweet spot. In NYC, so many apartments come and go, and landlords are looking for ASAP move in.

  • If you’re using the weekend for tours, do first thing in the morning on Saturday. Many people are doing the same thing, so you want to be among the first to check out a place.

  • Try to stick with the same 1-2 areas for your appointments, it will save you time! Busy bee like me? If you don’t have the time to schedule 100 tours, Zumper will schedule them for you and can even join you if you’d like.

  • Have ready the things you’ll need to apply if you see something you like while on the tours. Think: your last two paystubs, most recent tax return, employer’s salary letter, ID, and checkbook.

  • If you LOVE something, take it right there. Chances are, if it’s your dream apartment it’s also someone else’s, so apply then and there if you don’t want to miss out. This happened to one apartment early in my search.

At about 3 weeks out, I found it!

The dream space in a new neighborhood between Hell’s Kitchen and the Theater District. I went for it because of space and price, neighborhood initially coming in as my lowest priority and then becoming one of my favorite elements. Truly the dream.

Once you find a dream place, Zumper’s local rental experts are standing by to provide advice on the neighborhood, and help sign and move you into your new space. Seriously, it couldn’t get easier!

It’s still a work in progress, but here’s a first look at how it’s coming together. Here are my three favorite spots in my new place (left to right):

  • The couch space: WOW do I love my couch. It’s so cozy and turns into a full-size bed for guests. There’s also secret storage and all the pillows I need.

  • The bathroom: I feel like I never had enough space to lay out my skin and beauty things comfortably. I have a ton of bathroom space now and am at peace in this space.

  • The reading nook: I love my bookshelf came out, and I treat this space as a little reading nook thanks to the cozy ottoman.

Do you have any tips on moving into an apartment in the city? I’d love to hear them! #MakeYourMove




Making My Way Below 14th Street

One of the greatest cities in the world (don't @ me) is also one of the hardest to navigate when it comes to finding housing. A few months ago, I shared a quick guide to "moving to NYC" and now's the time I had to follow my own advice.

If you know my NYC journey, you know I've kept it uptown since I first moved here. From Inwood to the same Upper West Side zip code I had when I first moved here years ago, I found comfort in being "away" from the hustle and bustle. The problem is, I was hustling and bustling every time I was getting out of the apartment because I was always working against a minimum 20-minute delay.

Getting to work when the subway works: 25 minutes

Getting to work when the subway doesn't work, which is usually always because #MTA: 45-70 minutes

I began to hate that I had little control on being late. If I left early to make up for potential mishaps, I found myself "too early" 9/10 times. My next goal: move walking distance to work. 

Well, easier said than done when you work in Tribeca -- one of the more expensive parts of Manhattan. I spent a few weeks on the apartment search finding things within or only slightly above my budget, but knowing that this time I would be sacrificing greatly on space (remember: price, size, location). This grueling process really helped me get down to thinking about what exactly I couldn't sacrifice: separate kitchen from living room, windows (can't believe I have to ask for this), and my own closet.

The apartment search finally came to a happy close when I matched with someone via Gypsy Housing on a dream SoHo apartment. If you know me offline, this has always been my favorite downtown neighborhood and I'm often pinching myself to remind myself that I get to live here while staying within a millennial-friendly budget.

I got the apartment, I signed the dotted line, but now my third time moving in the city meant I was going to have much more to lug around when moving day came. This was my biggest stressor. From Miami to NYC I boxed up and UPS-mailed all my things, and from Inwood to Upper West Side I used a "man with a van" (IRL name: Jerry). The difference this time, however, was the fact that I wasn't just a "scrappy Millennial" moving to a new pad. I made small upgrades in my life as I grew into the city and my career and I truly valued the things I had earned and placed in my apartment. I needed to give myself this necessary upgrade and do things the safe, reliable and correct way.

I connected with Roadway Moving after doing some research across review websites and other credible platforms, given that they had some of the highest reviews. What's the hype all about? I mean, it's a moving company, aren't we supposed to dislike them as much as we dislike moving? Well, the difference is this company is putting happiness first to not only make a move as seamless as possible, but as pleasant as possible.

Upfront, I was really excited to be working with a company that provided insurances I'd heard about during this process. If someone is going to be handling your hard earned valuables, you need them to protect them and have a backup plan if they ding something. Roadway not only has the paperwork to cover an accident, but they carefully wrapped (not deconstructed) all my furniture with safety blankets so that nothing returned damaged. 

I was able to chat with their CEO, Ross Sapir, where we talked about the importance of this layer of protection. "Millennials are now making more money, have more things, and 'going the DIY or cheap' way isn't always the smartest route," he said. "You need to find services that are going to protect the things you worked hard to earn."

When it came to thinking about physically moving things around, my "PTSD" of having to help "the man with a van" down my 5th floor walk up kicked in. I kid you not when I say I almost teared up seeing how quickly they grabbed everything, took it down safely, and brought it right back up to my new apartment in the blink of an eye. I also had a few miscellaneous items that didn't fit in boxes, which they had supplies for that I could use on moving day. 

Past the nitty gritty of the moving process, the most important thing is that working with Roadway made my move such a pleasant experience. It didn't feel like you were burdening a friend, or someone that hates their job, with your burden of having to move. I had to remind myself that I didn't know these people, because I swear we could've been neighbors in a past life. They were cheerful, polite, kind, and were excited to talk about things like Spanish soccer.

When all was said and done, I sighed a breath of fresh air. I unpacked my goods, ordered a few missing pieces to the apartment, and got to making this new place feel like home. Moving isn't only stressful because of the logistics of getting your stuff moved halfway across the city, it takes a toll on you mentally as you prepare to start a new chapter of your life in a new neighborhood. New coffee shop, new groceries, new parks, new mindset. Start yours off positive!

Scroll down for a few of my favorite spaces in the apartment:

Moving yourself? Visit Roadway Moving online for a quote, and mention "LISSETTE" for 10% your entire move.