As a graduate, student or intern moving to the Big Apple, you’ve got a lot on your plate.
While being a student in the world’s greatest city will create a lifetime of memories —it can also feel overwhelming at times.
Why? Well, let’s face it: you’ve got to secure NYC student housing. You have to make all of your travel plans. And for most people: you’ve got to prepare to live in a brand-new city.
Even if you’ve spent time in Manhattan, it’s entirely new. Sometimes, it can be both an exciting and challenging transition.
Which is where this special done-for-you checklist comes in.
At Student Housing Works, we’ve helped hundreds of students, grads and interns take care of their NYC student housing…so they can finally enjoy themselves and experience everything the city has to offer.
With that in mind, we’ve seen and done it all when it comes to Manhattan student housing. Including what to do, and what not to do —as well as classic mistakes you’ll want to make sure you avoid.
In other words, we’ve created this checklist to give you everything you need from A to Z.
By the way, you can download a PDF version to print out as you move along your Manhattan Student Housing process…
Until the day you finally call the Big Apple your new home.
Let’s dive in.
1. Make a list of all your NYC Student Housing needs.
The first step is simple: make a list of all of your NYC student housing needs and write down anything that comes to mind.
This exercise is a fantastic way to create clarity.
Why? Because it’s easy to get overwhelmed with what seems like an endless list of tasks, decisions and choices swirling around your head when it comes to securing your Manhattan student housing.
Instead, when you write it all down: you get it out of your head.
Oh, and by the way…don’t overthink it. There are no right or wrong answers initially as you’ll surely cross things off or delete them entirely.
However, get started and make a master list that you can digitally keep in sync across your devices and have 24/7 access to.
2. Determine your Manhattan student housing general location.
Using Google Maps, or this Student Housing Map right here on our site —start to narrow down the general location of where you’re looking to live.
Remember: New York City is compressed into five boroughs of varying sizes.
These boroughs include the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island —and each can seem like a different world. And not to mention each have dozens of neighborhoods with a distinct cultural feel.
Because of this, it’s easy to make a mistake and not realize how far you are from your school’s campus or the workplace you’re doing an internship with.
Consider your general location an excellent starting point for what’s to follow.
3. Examine local neighborhoods and research differences.
One of the best parts about living in New York City is the diversity of neighborhoods that are separated by a block or two. It’s truly special.
Whether it’s different cultures, food, cafes, or anything in between…you can find yourself in a quiet, residential block in one corner and then be in the middle of bustling cafes and nightlife in another.
With that said, take extra time to do in-depth research about different neighborhoods you’re considering.
A little work upfront will lead to a lot of freedom in the future.
4. Use Google Maps to examine distance from popular places.
Once you’ve got your neighborhood options down, it’s time to take it a step further and use a tool like Google Maps to examine everything within walking distance of the neighborhood(s) you’re considering.
From public transportation to cafes and convenience stores and even medical offices —make a list. Write down the estimated “walking” time the Maps give you between your neighborhood’s location and all of those places, including:
- Study Halls
- Cafes & Restaurants
- Convenience stores
- Gyms, hobbies, etc.
- Local parks (if any)
- Medical offices
- Public transportation
Start to plot the distance between your neighborhood and these essential locations.
Knowing this will help you make a better decision with your convenience as a student, grad or intern being top of mind.
5. Determine your roommate needs and/or preferences.
Ah, the big decision —are you going to be sharing a room when it comes to your off-campus housing?
There are a lot of upsides and potential downsides to both. And of course, it’s important to know all of these ahead of time as it’ll affect your NYC student housing search. Here are some key questions you’ll want to ask when making this decision:
- What is your budget range, and can you afford that by yourself?
- Are you more of an introvert who needs their own space, or do you do well with others?
- Would you rather share a larger space with more amenities, or a smaller one to yourself?
Again, these questions are designed to give you clarity.
Usually, the roommate decision comes up when we’re discussing the next step in the checklist — having a range when it comes to your NYC student housing budget.
6. Have an initial budget range for your NYC student housing rate.
In New York City and its five boroughs, you can find all types of housing for all kinds of budgets.
Naturally, the city can already be expensive due to its high demand…plus, there are over 100 universities in NYC alone!
Which means having an initial budget range you’re going to stick to becomes essential, so you don’t waste your time (or anyone else’s) along the way.
Make sure to incorporate every aspect of your housing, including:
- Base rent. This is your core month-to-month, advertised rent that usually doesn’t include extra fees, surcharges, etc.
- Added fees. Make sure to pay attention to any extra monthly fees added to your base rent for convenience, taxes, etc.
Tip: some places can hide these fees until you’re going to sign a lease, so make sure you know this ahead of time.
- Utility costs. Be aware of all utility costs, including heat, electrical, phone, cable, internet and sometimes security systems.
Knowing your budget gives you the clarity to make quick decisions and ensure you find the perfect place for your needs.
7. Know what amenities are non-negotiables vs. “nice-to-to-have.”
As a student, grad or intern living in NYC, it’s important to know which amenities are 100% non-negotiable.
Since you’re in New York City for a certain amount of time and are likely traveling for Holidays…it’s essential to know what you want, including:
- Furnishing Options. In most cases as a student, you’re going to want a furnished place that has everything you need in terms of furniture. You could rent furniture, but it’s not ideal.
- Security & Privacy. New York City is safer than ever. But as a student, you want to place an extra premium on your safety. Make sure to find student housing with 24/7 security and require visitors to enter with a Photo ID, just like they do on campus.
- On-Site Amenities. Great student housing in NYC will not only have a place for you to live, but they’ll have a place to study, to hang out, watch the game with friends —and even a gym.
- Cleaning Services. Depending on the housing, you’ll find premium amenities such as bi-weekly cleaning services, laundry drop-off, and services that make your life as a student or intern stress-free.
As you check for conveniences, make sure to pay attention to each building’s specific amenities and any terms or conditions, so there are no surprises.
Well, at least only the good ones, of course.
8. Start your NYC Student Housing Search 6-8 weeks before you arrive.
A common mistake of those looking for Manhattan student housing is waiting too long to start their New York City student housing search.
Why? Well, it’s important to remember: New York City is one of the most competitive rental markets in the world —and is home to nearly 600,000 college students alone!
And the closer you get to your college semester or internship starting, the higher the competition gets.
What does this mean for you? Well, you may not find suitable housing or have to settle for a location or place that you don’t love…as well as paying extra due to increased demand.
Instead, once you’ve secured the dream internship or college experience: don’t wait to figure out housing. Start early, so you can clear it off your plate.
Then, you can focus on the real fun.
9. Ensure you’re looking at furnished places made to make NYC student life easy.
Since you’re going to be moving, the last thing you’re going to want to do is deal with the hassle of buying, moving and then re-selling furniture.
Enter furnished Manhattan student housing —where all of your essentials should be taken care of, including:
- Linens, Sheets, Covers
- Tables & Nightstands
- Living Room
- Curtains or blinds
NOTE: These are bedroom furnishings and of course, there are bathroom and kitchen furnishings to keep in mind.
As we mentioned earlier, there’s an alternative if needed. You can rent furniture and appliances to help make an unfurnished or half-furnished apartment your new home.
Lastly, keep in mind different housing options also come with varying degrees of furnishing so make sure to pay attention to the details.
10. If you find a place you like, move quickly and take a tour (virtual or physical.)
Speed matters, especially in a place like New York City.
Remember what we said earlier? There’s endless competition and there’s a pretty good chance if you’re considering a property…so are many other grads, students, and interns.
If you find a place that covers the needs above, move quickly.
Use multiple contact forms if needed. Fill out a form, make a phone call or even send a text—you never know which they’ll respond to.
11. Read reviews and testimonials from other students if available.
You can learn a lot about another student, grad or intern’s experience in a specific housing complex or neighborhood —if they’re available.
If not, make sure to ask the housing service.
They should have a track record of providing clean, safe student housing and be able to offer what other students have experienced. If the housing or service is new, be willing to ask questions and ensure everything checks out in advance.
Of course, if you’re working with a private landlord, this won’t be an option.
However, do your best to look for authentic reviews that give you an “inside” look at what your experience may look like.
Remember, you don’t want to be the Guinea pig here!
12. Book your stay and organize all of your documents and confirmation emails.
Once you’re officially booked, make sure to gather, organize and streamline all of your important documents and confirmation emails in one place.
You can do this both in physical format with say, a folder —as well as a place like Dropbox, Evernote, or Google Drive.
Whichever tool you use matters less than having 24/7 access, having it sync across your devices and be easy to find.
You never know when you’re going to need an important reference or reservation number. It’s important to have the confidence that you’ve got access to it right on your fingertips at any time.
13. Celebrate! You found a place to live in New York City.
Don’t skip this part —you’ve crossed off a big “to-do” when it comes to your student, graduate, or intern career.
So, take a moment and celebrate yourself.
Remember: it’s a big deal to secure your NYC student housing. You’ve put in a lot of effort, work, and research…and it paid off.
You should feel a weight off your shoulders as we move on to the rest of the checklist.
15. Figure out your NYC student health insurance requirements.
It’s time to figure out your health insurance.
This is an important step because the last thing you want to experience is a hefty bill for any type of medical visit.
By the way, international students who hold F1 visas are not required by the U.S. government to meet health insurance requirements. However, they’re typically required by the school.
First off, you’ll want to check if your school requires health insurance. Additionally, there could be a mandatory group plan —sometimes these are part of the tuition or paid separately.
NOTE: There are typically waivers that students like you can sign to shop for their own coverage outside of the school’s plans.
Secondly, if you’re getting your own insurance…do your research ahead of time. There are plenty of options available for students.
Last, compare different plans, coverage and flexibility options. Then, either pre-purchase coverage to start on your arrival date or wait to purchase until you’re in the U.S.
Either way, getting your student health insurance taken care of feels great.
16. Book your flights and/or transportation to New York City.
Now that you’ve secured your housing, it’s time to start planning for your arrival.
Determine your transportation, including flights, public transport and however you’re going to get from Point A to your final NYC destination.
The good news?
There’s endless options available for you.
And the bad news? Well, there’s endless options, which can lead to procrastination or indecision.
Get this done in advance so you know the exact steps you’ll be taking to arrive in New York City and your new home.
17. Research your banking options for when you arrive.
One of the most important parts of your NYC experience is your banking. Make sure to research all of your options before you arrive.
Remember: making international payments for rent can be expensive —and a lack of no-fee ATMs can be costly and inconvenient.
Some of the most popular banks for students include Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, etc. —and they should offer competitive options for students, grads, and interns with zero-fee accounts and other perks.
For international students, you’ll likely need the following documents to open an account here in the U.S.:
- Your Passport
- Student Visa
- Second ID proof (student card or driver’s license)
- Proof of university enrollment
- Money to open the bank account (differs with each bank)
Here’s a nice chart to help you decide:
These days, you should be able to open an account online depending on a few factors.
If not, this will be a high priority once you arrive in the Big Apple.
18. Research your cell phone and communication options.
Your cell phone becomes your hub for all communication going forward.
Big deal, right? Make sure to carve out time and research your cell phone service options before you arrive.
Now, you may be asking: does your current cell phone work? In many cases, it won’t…but use the WillMyPhoneWork tool to determine if it does.
At Student Housing Works, we’ve found the best option for students is to unlock a phone and get a local number.
For example, Google Phone numbers can be acquired for free, and popular cell service includes: Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T.
Keep in mind your data usage. Then, always have a plan and back-up for contacting home —using apps and tools like WhatsApp, Skype and other tools to keep your monthly bill low.
19. Determine all the public transportation options near you.
New York City’s public transportation is one of the best in the world.
You’ll have endless options, including MTA Subway lines, MTA buses, Metro North, the Long Island RR.
Great news, right? Make sure you do extra homework up front and list out exactly what’s available to you —and explore their paths in advance.
For example, use things like MTA Subway maps to look at different routes and landmarks in the city. Here’s one for Columbia University below.
This will help you tremendously, so you know all your options when it comes to getting from your residence to anything you need in the city.
Plus, it’s tons of fun to actively explore Manhattan through public transportation. But we’ll save that for later!
20. Make a list of convenience and supplies stores around your housing.
During your student, graduate or internship stay…you’ll have various needs come up along the way. These include the need for kitchen supplies, medication, and household or personal hygiene items.
The great news is Manhattan is filled with family-owned convenience stores.
However, those are best used in an emergency as the prices can up to double when compared to bigger places. For big brands, you’ll find Target, Ikea, The Container Store as well as pharmacies like Duane Reade, CVS, and others.
These will come in handy when you’re already here.
By the way, many places deliver using tools like Instacart and other apps.
21. Prep for your trip and keep in mind your entire student experience.
A little organization on the front end…pays off on the back-end.
As you prepare for your trip, make sure to think about every part of your student experience.
Whether to fulfill your academic goals, personal hobbies and routines, as well as social life…don’t leave anything out.
This will help you as we move forward with key logistics as you make the trip to making Manhattan your home.
22. Pack all of your belongings and focus on what matters the most.
So, how do you pack for a huge city that can get up to 102 degrees in August, and sub-freezing in February and March?
Great question! When it comes to packing, less is more.
Many international students realize this the hard way as they overpack and don’t have enough space. Instead, choose to pack the essential items. For example, the clothing you wear the most for the season you’re coming in.
There are many options for other items. You can either have them shipped as needed, or you can buy what you need without the hassle of traveling with it.
Often, students will realize they don’t need as much as they think!
23. Ensure you bring electrical chargers and adapters for laptops, cameras, etc.
There’s nothing worse than going to use an outlet for your laptop…only to realize you don’t have the right adapter.
Here’s a look at the common adapter types:
Take a moment before you leave to ensure you’ve got the right chargers and adapters for all of your electrical devices, including:
- Cell Phone
There are many all-in-one options available for purchase, and we recommend always getting two adapters, so you always have a back-up.
24. Bring or plan to purchase a lock box for your valuables.
While the housing you select will place a premium on safety —there’s a peace of mind that comes when our valuables are protected.
Enter a lockbox. This becomes your best place to store important documents, passports, loose cash, test results, etc.
Now, we do recommend waiting to arrive in New York to purchase your lockbox. They can take up valuable space and can be heavy.
For now, look at options and put it on your list.
25. Bring all the individualized medication and supplements you may not find elsewhere.
Make a detailed list of all the medications and supplements you take.
Don’t leave anything out. Even if it’s something simple like Vitamin C or D…it’s important to have all of your bases covered.
Then, you’re going to highlight the ones that are uniquely special to your individual circumstances. Anything that requires a prescription or is hard to find becomes your number one priority.
For these items, stock up. Let your home doctor know how long you’ll be away. This way, they’ll be able to get you enough medication for the entire semester in advance.
26. Don’t overpack with too much stuff.
Warning bells: don’t bring too much stuff with you.
We all know the person (or maybe have been) who brings three suitcases for a weekend getaway, right?
Remember: living space in Manhattan is hard to come by and extremely limited.
Most student housing will have all the essentials for you, and many students also have their families ship them seasonal clothing or items as needed.
Additionally, sometimes it makes more sense to wait until you’re here to visit stores.
27. Make a list of goals for your semester or year in NYC.
With all you have going on, it can be easy to forget about your personal, academic, or professional goals during your next semester or year in Manhattan.
But they’re as important as everything else.
Setting time aside to write down your priorities will give you a sense of clarity. And it’ll be a useful filter as you make decisions on how to spend your time.
With that said, take the time to identify what your goals are. And why they matter to you — including:
Personal. Experiences, sights to see, people to connect with, new friends, relationships, your physical health, etc.
Academic & Professional. Your school or intern experience, including grades, relationships with teachers and staff, opportunities, etc.
Knowing these in advance will make your experience here even better.
28. Ensure all your COVID documents and screenings/tests are confirmed.
With the endless changes and requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic —it’s important to have all of your documents in one place.
Make sure to research exactly what your school, workplace or updated social requirements are in New York City. Then, gather everything you need.
Whether that includes face masks, vaccination records, pre-travel testing…there’s a lot to track.
Having all of this will be extremely helpful as you prepare for your arrival.
29. Arrive in the world’s greatest city!
We’re biased, but there’s nothing like going “wheels down” in the world’s greatest city.
Whether you’re landing at LaGuardia, JFK or Newark…it’s a special moment as you feel the energy that comes with New York City.
The stunning skyscrapers. Central Park. All the sports stadiums. The country’s central hub. And of course: the people from all types of backgrounds.
Welcome to New York City.
We’re biased of course, but we believe it’s the greatest city in the world!
30. Book car service or Yellow Cab from the airport to your housing.
If you haven’t pre-booked transportation, your best bet is to take a Yellow Cab from the airport to your housing. Make sure to have the route pre-saved on your Google Maps if you’re able to.
Unfortunately, brand new international students can pay extra as some cabs drive around in circles since they know their passengers don’t know any better. It happens, so we wanted to let you know.
A few notes on Airport Fares:
- Flat fares from John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) to Manhattan are $52. No other charges, no meter is running.
- LaGaurdia to Manhattan is metered and averages $40USD (€37) to Manhattan, plus tolls.
- For Newark Airport, you will pay a metered fare and an extra $17.50 surcharge, as well as any tools.
The wonder of New York City can quickly lead to stress as the city’s surrounding airports can be hectic, especially when other students are coming.
But remember: you’ve followed this checklist and are prepared for any challenge!
31. Always have at least $200 of cash on hand and go to the ATM or exchange.
Cash is still king.
Sounds weird, huh? Well, in New York City…it’s important to always carry some cash with you.
We highly recommend at least $200 or $250 in hand.
Even in 2022, some places won’t accept debit or credit and often there are minimum purchases for small convenience stores or a deli.
By the way, make sure you have all types of bills —including $1’s and $5’s for things like tips, etc. and even loose change.
It’ll make everything easier for you.
32. Arrive at your NYC Student Housing.
You made it! You’ve arrived at your home away from home.
Take a moment to make yourself comfortable —it’s a special moment to arrive in the Big Apple and have your housing 100% taken care of.
33. Check that all your amenities are working, such as WIFI, TV and Air Conditioning, etc.
As you explore your new room, make sure to check all the amenities are working. This includes things like Wi-Fi, TV, air conditioning, etc.
While most housing should ensure everything works 100% before your arrival, it’s important to double check.
If there is some type of issue, make sure to bring it up immediately. Additionally, you may need to submit a service request depending on your place.
34. Take a half-day or day to explore your new surroundings.
You’re home, now this is the exciting part!
If you’re able to, now is the time to explore your new surroundings.
Walk around, visit local shops and surrounding neighborhoods, or meet someone new in the complex and hang out with them.
When you’re living in off-campus student housing, it’s easy to spark up a conversation and friendship with other students, grads and interns just like you.
35. Get your Student Health Insurance taken care of ASAP.
Remember tip #15?
We encouraged you to research your health insurance options —before you arrived in the U.S.
Because requirements depend on your specific visa status, it’s important to know this in advance.
Remember: the U.S. does not have universal health care, and many U.S. universities require students enrolled to have this taken care of.
36. Open your new Bank Account (if you haven’t already.)
This should be quick, easy, and seamless.
When you choose one of the bigger banks we mentioned earlier —opening an account should take a few steps.
37. Prep for the upcoming semester and don’t forget to have fun!
Take a deep breath: you’ve completed over 37+ items on this checklist, secured student housing in Manhattan and are now ready to experience the Big Apple.
It’s now time to take what we’ve gone through and make the most of your time in Manhattan.
Remember: you’re only going to be in this part of your life once…so make the most of it.
One day, you’ll look back with wonder at this time in your life.
Why Students and Interns Are Raving About Student Housing Works
The Big Apple awaits.
In this checklist, we wanted to give you everything you needed to ensure a smooth, easy —and hopefully fun process!
So, who are we?
At Student Housing Works, we’ve helped countless students, graduates, and interns get rid of stress, overwhelm, and guesswork when it comes to finding student housing in New York City.
In fact, we take care of all the hassle and work directly with landlords to secure housing that is safe, affordable, and convenient…so you can focus on what matters: enjoying what the city has to offer!
To date, we’ve placed students from over 85 different schools in their new homes!
In fact, you could make any of these clean, convenient, and student-ready locations your home away from home:
At Student Housing Works, all of our locations are in the best neighborhoods for students. They’re conveniently located near stores, cafes, banks, theaters, post offices, pharmacies, libraries, and public transportation.
By the way, all of our rates include 100% free utilities, WI-FI and are all-inclusive.
Best of all?
It only takes 3 simple steps to release the overwhelm of finding your home away from home.
Don’t Wait —Find NYC Student Housing In 3 Simple Steps
If you’re ready to experience the fun and wonder of the world’s greatest city without the stress of finding a place…don’t wait!
Click to browse our locations to see what’s available for your stay.