Moving to New York soon? You might consider renting before pulling the trigger to purchase an invaluable slice of the Big Apple. Writing a check each month but showing nothing for it –– other than a depleted bank account at the end of your tenure – may seem like a losing proposition. But while this holds true in most cities, the real estate minutia in New York City is a different animal. Renting an apartment for at least a year or two, possibly longer, maybe a wiser idea than you think, and here’s why.

New York is a big city with dozens of neighborhoods.

Considering the size of the city and the unique characteristics of every borough (and even neighborhoods in each borough), you’ll need to figure out where you want to eat, sleep, and socialize, particularly if you’re new to New York. Take Brooklyn, for instance. The industrial vibe in Red Hook remains far removed from the stroller-filled, tree-lined streets of Park Slope.

Likewise, downtown Manhattan enclaves like the West Village and the Lower East Side offer topnotch restaurants and sizzling nightlife while the Upper West Side promises uninterrupted acres of green space in Central Park. For this reason, uptowners travel to the south of 23rd Street when looking to try a hot, new eatery, or even savor a meal from an old, reliable standby. Meanwhile, downtowners head north for things like outdoor concerts, long training runs, and relaxing lounges on the Great Lawn.

New York might not be for you.

As glamorous as it sounds, living in New York City isn’t always easy, and daily life here is nothing like visiting for a few days or even subletting for a few weeks. Although returning home to your apartment will most likely be more comfortable than staying at a bustling hotel, on the flip side, after a few days in this chaotic city, it’s often refreshing to know that you’re hopping on a flight to a quieter, more restful, and probably less expensive place.

Even if you love New York, you’ll know if you can accept the city and survive here over the long haul only if you’ve lived in it day after day. And trust me, this is one of the reasons that the city is transient. Thousands come each year only to leave months later because they have discovered that New York is tougher to hack than they had thought.

Renting is quicker and less involved.

Although renting is far from painless, buying real estate in the Big Apple is a long, grueling process, which includes visiting dozens of open houses, scouting apartment buildings, submitting financials and interviewing with co-op boards, and more. You’ll probably have a long list of things to worry about during your long-distance move, and buying a home could be more than you need to tackle at the time, especially if you’re moving from an international location.

Live in New York as a renter, and get acquainted with the city first before buying real estate. If you’ve called NYC home in the past and knew the neighborhoods well, or you’ve owned previously and found yourself content in a particular area of town, you may be an exception. Then, by all means, invest in New York’s almost bulletproof real estate market and start building equity from day one.

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