How To Rent An Apartment As A Freelancer

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This month, I’m embarking on something I’ve dreaded for the past 3 years: finding a new apartment in NYC. My BF and I are ready to move on from our current place. We thought about buying for awhile but it just didn’t work out for us. So we’re renting again. While it’s exciting to get a new place, it can be seriously be frustrating too…especially in NYC. This is the first time I’m going to be renting as a freelancer. If you’ve ever rented in NYC, you know that it can be quite an adventure getting approved for an apartment. You have to make 40x the rent, have good credit, give a huge security deposit, and hand over your first born child. It’s going to be even more of a headache for me as a freelancer. I’m certainly not the ideal renter since I don’t have a stable paycheck. If you’re in the same boat, here are some tips I can share with you:

1. Make sure you have good credit

This is a given, regardless of your state of employment. Most management companies or landlords will do a credit check. If you have poor or bad credit, you will have a tough time being approved for an apartment on your own, especially if you are a freelancer. If you have really terrible credit, consider cheaper apartments will less stringent rules or get a roommate (or two).

2. Prove your income

When you’re renting an apartment, proof of income is always necessary, especially if you are a freelancer. You may need to provide last 3 years of tax returns, as well as your bank statements from the last 6 months. Landlords will want to see consistent and stable income and/or savings.

3. Have letters of references

Having letters of references isn’t necessary but it can definitely help your case. If you can, ask your current landlord for a letter stating that you are a good tenant and have always paid rent on time. You may also want letters from your longer-term clients stating that you’ve been working with them for X number of months and make X amount.

4. Look for smaller buildings

In Manhattan, most larger buildings and management companies have a strict application process. Don’t make 40 times the rent? Too bad. If you aren’t a model tenant in terms of finances, you should consider looking at smaller management companies or buildings for rent by owner. Their rules are usually less strict and you may have room for negotiation.

5. Get a roommate

Getting a roommate will always help your case, especially if that roommate has a full-time job. Luckily, my BF does and I can provide proof of income and savings so I don’t expect to get too much trouble when we’re applying for an apartment. But you never know. It’s a crazy market out there!

Have you ever rented an apartment as a freelancer? What was your experience?


  1. says

    Great post. I’m not too deep into freelancing yet, but I’ve always wondered how
    I would get approved for certain things like an apartment if I ever decided to freelance full time and leave my job. 40x the rent rate sounds intense, but understandable since I live in another high cost living area, Illinois. Good luck with everything though and I hope you find the right new apartment.

  2. says

    We haven’t decided to move yet, but the biggest factor for us is looking at less expensive places. This will mean heading further south into Brooklyn (it’s a very big borough!) or even New Jersey.

    40 months is the minimum they want your income to cover; we are around 70 months 🙂

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