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Not ready to commit to New York City for at least one year? If this describes you, you’re not alone. Every year, over 60 million people visit the city for anywhere from a few days to a few months. In addition, the city is home to close to 600,000 college students, many hailing from other places in the United States and around the world. In addition to the tourists and students, the city is also a temporary home to tens of thousands of interns and, of course, countless people looking for big breaks in the entertainment industry. In the past, people who wanted to stay in New York for more than a few weeks but less than a year often faced significant housing challenges. Today, a growing number of flexible options are making extended but short-term stays much easier.

When to avoid signing a one-year lease

 

There are many very legitimate reasons to avoid signing a long-term lease. Commitment anxiety is one reason, but it is certainly not the only reason.

 

Students often make a mistake when they agree to sign a one-year lease since ultimately, many return home in the summer or leave to pursue internships or travel abroad. Likewise, individuals working in the theater, music, and film industries are often better off leaving their options open to pursue opportunities in other cities. Then, there are the truly adventurous types—like this couple who chose to spend an entire year living in short-stay homes in New York City to explore different neighborhoods before settling down.

 

Another common and very practical reason to avoid pursuing a one-year lease applies specifically to foreign nationals. For a variety of reasons, renting an apartment in New York City as a foreign national is extremely difficult. Even if you have substantial resources and a U.S. income, many owners won’t rent to foreign nationals. However, foreign nationals who attempt to rent after a short-term rental of six to twelve months generally find local owners and management companies far more amendable since by then, they have at least some U.S. credit history, a stack of U.S. paystubs, and most importantly, a local housing reference to verify that they are a reliable tenant.

Why to avoid signing a one-year lease

 

Nearly all New York City owners and management companies want tenants to sign a one-year lease. In rare cases, they may offer a two-year lease or a lease between one and two years instead. While this isn’t unusual, unlike owners in many North American cities where breaking a lease with just a month to two months’ notice is often possible, in New York City, breaking a lease is a complicated affair.

 

Many owners simply won’t negotiate with tenants who wish to opt out early, leaving them to cover the rent until the end of the lease. Even owners who agree to let a tenant opt out early often put the onus on the current tenant to find a new tenant who meets their criteria. But depending on the time of year, opting out may prove especially difficult. New York City landlords strongly prefer leases to expire between May to September when the housing market is most active. As such, opting out of lease in the Spring to late Summer is generally far easier than opting out when the market is especially sluggish—a period that generally runs from November to February.

 

The bottom line is that if you don’t think you’ll need a unit for a year or longer, signing a one-year lease in the five boroughs is generally a risky proposition.

How to rent without signing a one- to two-year lease

 

If you’ve decided that the one-year lease isn’t for you, the next step is to start exploring your options. In the past, short-term rental options were limited, but over the past decade, several new options have come on to the market, bridging the gap between high-priced hotels and regular apartment rentals. Best of all, most of these options come fully furnished.

 

1. Lease take-overs

 

Demographic: Ideal for families, couples, or single newcomers who don’t require a furnished unit.

 

Cost: Market rents reflecting average city prices.

 

Terms: Anywhere from one to 11 months on average, often with the option to renew the lease with the owner once the take-over term has expired.

 

Another increasingly common option is to opt for a lease take-over. In this case, a tenant who needs to break their lease seeks out a viable tenant to take over their lease for the remaining time. In many cases, these deals come with the option to renew a lease directly with the owner once the existing lease has expired. Popular places to find a lease take-over include Leasebreak. If you’re a creative type, you can also sign up for the Listings Project, which has a lease take-over category.

 

2. Furnished suites in long-stay hotels

 

Demographic: Ideal for families, couples, or single visitors who require a furnished unit.

 

Cost: As low as $2,300/month for a studio and $2,900/month for a one-bedroom.

 

Terms: Month-to-month with longer stays possible.

 

If you’re in New York City for work or business and looking for a month-to-month rental that is already furnished, there are a variety of options on the market, many in central Manhattan locations. The Bridge Suites, for example, offers studios for as low as $2,300 per month. Given that unfurnished studios in midtown generally cost much more, this option evidently offers a lot of value.

 

3. Co-living

 

Demographic: Ideal for singles and couples who require a furnished unit and are looking for community and high-end amenities.

 

Cost: As low as $1,300 monthly.

 

Terms: Some co-living spaces permit month-to-month leases but most do have minimum leases, generally starting at six months.

 

While co-living won’t work for a family, if you’re on your own and in New York for more than a few weeks but less than a year, co-living can be a great option. On platforms like Common and Ollie Coliving, you’ll not only find plenty of options for renting a furnished room but much more. While Common’s rooms tend to focus on community, Ollie Coliving also throws in an enviable bucket list of amenities that are usually only available in pricey full-service buildings—amenities include a rooftop pool, workout space, and café.

4. Boarding houses

 

Demographic: Ideal for women doing an internship or temporarily working in New York City who require a furnished room with meals at a reasonable price.

 

Cost: Approximately $600 to $1,500 per month depending on the residence.

 

Terms: One month to one year on average.

 

If co-living is too trendy for your taste, don’t worry—there are still a few old-style boarding houses and apartments left, most of which cater exclusively to single women who are in New York City for a limited amount of time for work or an internship. While some of the city’s old-style boarding houses, like the Jeanne d’Arc, may be a bit restrictive for anyone with a social life, others such as the Webster Apartments are generally relaxed. While male guests are only allowed to visit on the main floor, in the dining room, and shared garden, at the Web there is no curfew. Also, for a mere $360 per week, residents not only get a furnished room but two meals a day and the advantage of being in a great midtown location. If this sounds like a good option, bear in mind that competition for New York’s remaining boarding houses is surprisingly fierce and waitlists can be long, so apply well in advance of your planned visit.


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Lead image via Pixabay

Contributing Writer Cait Etherington Cait Etherington has over twenty years of experience working as a journalist and communications consultant. Her articles and reviews have been published in newspapers and magazines across the United States and internationally. An experienced financial writer, Cait is committed to exposing the human side of stories about contemporary business, banking and workplace relations. She also enjoys writing about trends, lifestyles and real estate in New York City where she lives with her family in a cozy apartment on the twentieth floor of a Manhattan high rise.
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