“Should I sublet over the holidays?”

1 Dec

In New York City, doing the math on what you’re paying for your apartment when you’re on holiday vacation is  downright painful. Sooner or later, it occurs to all of us*: Oh, the money you’d save by subletting!

But if you’re not living alone (and if you’re reading this blog slash new to the city, you’re probably not), getting it right can be an onerous, complicated process that could go south before you can say cha-ching. There are situations that can work, however, and here are some things to think about:

• PLEASE check with your roommates first. You need to consider their comfort level with a stranger being on the premises, too, especially if they’ll be gone over the holidays as well, and their bedrooms don’t have doors that lock from the outside. Most don’t.

• Post your ad on Facebook. That way, you can be dealing with friends of friends. If that doesn’t work and you still really want to do this, and dedicate the time to vetting a stranger, read on.

• If you’re going the Craigslist route, approach it as a hiring manager would. Get references, both professional and person, proof of employment, and meet with them in person. You will get a gut feeling, and it will be correct. If you don’t have time to be thorough, no amount of money saved will be worth the unease.

• Store your valuables at a friend’s place while you’re gone, or take them with you. Even if the person you’re subletting to would never dream of stealing, you do not want to tempt them regardless.

• Make the rules clear. I’d recommend confining their use of the apartment to the bedroom and bathroom, and not offering up extensive use (or any use) of your cookery. Ask that they bring their own bedding, towels and toiletries, even if you are somehow connected to this person.

• Name your price. You probably won’t be able to charge $400 a night for your small quarters, but hell, if you’re not going to profit handsomely from this, there is no point in taking the risks and time it takes to do it right. That said, negotiate.

Has anyone done this, or knows someone who has, who wants to weigh in?

*Full disclosure: I have never done this myself — I am merely part of the tempted masses.

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