In this episode we talk with current MS and PhD students about finding housing in New York City.
April 2, 2020 | 9:58
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TIM BAKER: Welcome to the Center for Data Science Admissions podcast. I’m your host, Tim Baker. Today we’ll hear from our current MS and Ph.D. students, with advice on finding housing when you arrive in New York City.
JASON: I’m Jason Pollock. I am a first-year Ph.D. student at the Center for Data Science. Prior to that, I was actually also in the Master’s program at the Center for Data Science. So, I was here for two years, and then I just started my Ph.D. program. So, in New York, housing is a very liquid market. There are a lot of places on the market, and there are a lot of people trying to get into places. So, it’s very liquid, but it’s very competitive as well. So if you know that’s a place that you want, get all your documents ready, be able to put down the forms or the down payment or whatever, immediately.
So, partially, I’ve been reluctant to move after (LAUGHS)… as much as possible, just because it’s a bit of a hassle. Moving apartments within New York is… it’s I guess not difficult because land-wise the city is small, so you can get movers to move things in between, but it’s the finding the new apartment that is a bit of an uphill struggle.
Yeah, in terms of advice, the one thing that I’ve been telling some students who reached out about like, “Hey, I’m looking for an apartment.” Is that I know for NYU, there’s a Facebook group specifically for people looking for housing, that’s how I got my current apartment. I was just like, ‘Oh.’ I used to live with a couple of NYU students, and so people rotated out.
Yeah, I think if you’re able to live with students it’s great because you guys all have vaguely similar things you’re looking for in terms of apartment, like proximity to university, proximity to subway stations. Yeah, so that’s I guess the place that I will point people towards.
EDINA: My name is Edina and I’m a CDS PhD student, currently in my second year. I was one of the people who came here more on my own, because I didn’t know anybody… nothing. Didn’t know nothing (LAUGHS).
TIM BAKER: Wow.
EDINA: So, I started looking for a flat, I found one that I thought was OK, with the wish of moving on the second year. So, I knew that it was temporary. Yeah, I could find it easily. One of the things that it’s more difficult in the apartment hunting process is that you’re an international and you’re a student. So, make sure before coming you have all your documents, your admissions letter, if you have somebody that can co-sign, maybe you need information about your parents or about your stipend, your grant. So, make sure you have all of those. And if you interact with a landlord in person, it’s very easy to convince him that you can have enough stipend to pay the rent. So, it was not that bad. Yeah.
TIM BAKER: It was not too bad?
DAVIDSON: My name is Guy Davidson, I am a first-year Ph.D. student here at the Center for Data Science, and I started this past September. I came here over the summer to look for housing because I knew that I don’t want to ideally just step into a place without having ever seen it.
TIM BAKER: Yeah.
DAVIDSON: I spent number of websites and apps and spent quite a while actually trying to pare down which of these places I would actually want to live in. Ended up being that I took a long weekend here, and in the span of about three days I saw 15 apartments.
TIM BAKER: Wow.
DAVIDSON: Yeah. You treat it as a job. You try to schedule them in some sensible way geographically. I think it was good because even after the first day of seeing apartments, I had already known like, “OK, this is something I can look for”, “I really care about the layout of the apartment being in this particular fashion” or in terms of the street location like, “This street is okay to live on, but ideally I wouldn’t be living on a larger avenue.” I think that was very helpful, but eventually, I had three or four places in mind that all seemed like happy places I could live in, and I signed with one and I’m very happy so far.
WILLIAM: My name is William Falcon, I’m a Ph.D. student at the Center for Data Science, and I’m a second year. When I moved to New York I moved for undergrad. I was living in California at the time actually. So, I just rented an apartment, it was not that hard to find. I used Craigslist back then to do that, and it was a weird interview process with the people in that house. I feel like everything in New York is an interview, everyone wants to interview you and screen you for something.
TIM BAKER: Yeah, without question.
WILLIAM: Yeah. So, it’s not terribly difficult, and you probably want to screen your roommates as well. I would just say that maybe to remove some of the stress of moving, just think about your first apartment as a temporary place, and if it happens to become your longterm place, great. Otherwise, just know that it’s temporary and once you figure out what’s around you and where you actually want to be, then you’re going to move to the place you want to be. Because there’s no way you’re going to know what all the neighborhoods are until you have friends and you visit those and you enjoy them.
KATRINA: I’m Katrina. I’m a second-year Ph.D. student at the Center for Data Science and also an alumnus from the master’s program. New York is a pretty unique place. Yeah, it has its own particularities, but I was able to find housing through friends. So I certainly recommend, I’ve seen your network, asking for friends of friends, someone might know something about someone who’s looking for a roommate. I think it’s more like a quick market, but you need a word of mouth.
SWANPNIL: My name is Swapnil Mehta. I’m an undergrad student from the University of Mumbai in India. And I worked at (INAUDIBLE) for a bit before joining the Ph.D. program at the Center for Data Science this year. What ended up happening was I found a friend who I went to school with, who lives and works in New York. I found a bunch of listings that he could go down and take a look at. And eventually, we ended up finding a really nice sort of place in the middle of Manhattan.
So, some of my friends just got an Airbnb or lived with some family for a while and then started looking for their place once they got here. But they’ve also had their fair share of issues because a lot of people, by the time they get here, they already have a place. So they aren’t going to be able to live with you or find a place with you. And one thing I found out was starting early isn’t as beneficial because the brokers that I spoke to, they just say that houses go fast. So they’re only going to have openings about a couple of weeks to a month before you actually want to move in.
ERIC: My name’s Eric. I’m currently a student part-time in the Center for Data Science. I was accepted just this current semester of fall 2019. I expect to graduate in about three years. Definitely it’s like a bit of a process actually. You got to look at a lot of apartments, or I suppose browsing online. For me personally, I can only speak for myself I guess, the apartment hunting process starts… there’s a very specific timeframe. You have to do it several like a month or two months before you move in, but you can’t do it earlier because in general, the apartment turnover is very fast.
StreetEasy is a great resource. It will give you a lot of the prices. Sometimes the prices are rather low relative to the truth, and sometimes they might advertise a higher number of rooms that may exist. So for example, they might say some corner of the wall is a family office, which can be renovated to a room, which once you look at it, not quite true. Definitely look at the apartment before you actually move in. I’m not sure how to do this if you’re not actually in the city. If you have a friend in the city, you could ask them to take a video for you. There are like people who will give you tours. It appears to be a fairly common occupation.
SHREYAS: Hi everyone, this is Shreyas. I’m a second-year master’s student at the Center for Data Science. And I joined a lot of Facebook groups and WhatsApp groups for NYU admits both CDS and also CS admits. So, other department folks also, especially folks coming from India, which makes it all the more easy. So, I grouped with them and together we searched for possible housing locations and we found a house in Jersey City in Journal Square, where actually a lot of Indian students live. And it’s a pretty easy commute by train. And it’s a very convenient location because there’s a lot of Indians, good food, and it’s a really easy way to smooth into the United States.
So, four of us, me and my friends grouped up and we found an apartment and we moved in there. And one more advantage that I had was housing was because of grouping up one of my roommates actually had his cousin in the United States and she was kind enough to visit the apartment in person and ensure that everything was in order so that we did not face much of a struggle when we landed.
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TIM BAKER: Thank you for listening to the Center for Data Science admissions podcast. Today’s episode was hosted by Tim Baker, mixed by Katerina Mora, and music was provided by Cryptic. You can find his music at crypticone.bandcamp.com.