Hello and welcome back to Just Answer.
Being a native New Yorker, these are the best tips to finding a nice apartment on your own, without incurring the cost of a broker:
Walk around the neighborhoods you're interested in and see if there are any 'for rent' signs and/or leasing offices directly in the building. If a building has a doorman, ask him if he's aware of any available apartments. Look for buildings containing a larger number of apartments, because if several are empty, the rental management company or, if co-op, the owners, would be more willing to negotiate. Ask if the apartments are straight rentals or if they are co-ops, owned by individual owners. Leave your business card, or if you don't have one, your name, contact info and what you're looking for, with the rental agent or Super of the building and ask to be contacted if anything opens up, if there is nothing available at that particular time. Of course, offering a small 'tip' to the Super might yield more results.
I'm sure you realize that the rental prices in Manhattan are quite high, especially if you are looking for "affordable, well located, beautiful". If you are willing to give up, say, great location, look for apartments near "Els" (elevated trains) or that don't have a great view, as they will be less expensive. Giving up a wonderful view and/or tolerating some additional noise (you can always wear earplugs to bed) may be worth it. I lived in such an apartment (in a different borough) and became used to the noise of the trains--found it even 'lulling' as I fell asleep. : )
If the apartment you're seeking doesn't have
to be in Manhattan, but close by, let's say for work, you can find reasonably priced apartments in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, which may only be a train ride or bus ride away.
You can also check your local Pennysaver to look for apartments for rent by owner, sub-lets (make sure they're legitimate/legal) or by leasing offices in the areas of your choice.
Many older apartment buildings are rent-controlled so there is not a lot of movement in and out (many relatives take over the lease if someone moves out), however, if you or any of your friends know someone who has recently divorced, been transferred for their job, has a relative who has passed away, etc., find out if their apartment is available.
I wish you much good luck and hope you find what you're looking for!
Please take a moment to Rate with Positive Feedback (), as that is the only way in which I am credited by the site for my time, work, and expertise. Thank you very much, I appreciate it!
Please let me know if you need any additional information or have any questions about the answer before rating, by clicking 'Reply', and I will be happy to continue our conversation.
To request me for future questions, simply type "For Cher" to begin your post and I will answer, asap.