Looking for housing in New York City (particularly Manhattan) is like searching for a diamond in the rough, a husband in a sea of fish, a needle in a haystack - you get the point.
Here is a condensed list of things you show know when apartment hunting in NYC:
1. Most buildings require a guarantor. Aka a person who earns roughly 40x the rent (as collateral). Usually getting a parent's signature will suffice.
2. Craigslist can be a dream or a nightmare. Many of my friends have found awesome apartments and roomies through the website. Others have come across scamming organizations and aggressive realtors. Use with discretion!
3. If you have the luxury of time, be patient. If you're from the outer boroughs looking to move into manhattan, time is your friend. In the months leading to summer, the pool of people looking for housing increases immensely because of all the students returning from school or who will be starting an internship in the city. There will be even more demand for housing within a limited supply, which means New York housing market will always favor landlords who can charge higher rents.
4. But if you find the place of your dreams, act fast! One day you could be at the open house and the next day the listing could be gone. Make sure you have your materials together (payment - usually first and last month's rent, the security deposit, and a guarantor's letter).
5. If the listing meets your checklist, go see the apartment and meet the roomies in person. Didn't tinder teach you that pictures can be deceiving?