A New York Police Department officer walks into the South Park Tower rental apartment past pedestrians in Manhattan, New York Dec. 22, 2013. Reuters

For many New Yorkers, the end of summer means finding a new apartment ahead of a new school year or a job relocation. But with so many people looking to move at the same time, the stiff competition is bad news for apartment hunters looking for a good deal.

Rents are at their highest in August, September and October in a city notorious for staggering rental contracts. Overall, there's about a 4.5 percent difference in monthly rental prices during the late summer compared with renting in January, meaning you could pay hundreds less per month if you start your lease during the winter months. As of February 2016, the average rent for an apartment within 10 miles of New York City was $3,519. A one-bedroom apartment costs about $3,152 a month.

If you have to move ASAP, below are six tips on how to find a cheap rental in NYC before winter starts.

1. Websites such as StreetEasy, Craigslist, and Zumper are a good place to start. We also love all the options on TripleMint, a site billed as "the refreshingly simple way to find your home."

2. Narrow your search to a few neighborhoods. The most popular neighborhoods often feature the highest rents. If you are willing to commute from outside the city, New Jersey is an affordable choice, but be aware that living in another state means you can't really call yourself a New Yorker. If that's not an option, here's a fun quiz to help you figure out what NYC borough you should live in.

3. Create a wish list. Figure out what you really need to be happy, whether that's an elevator or outdoor space.

4. Remain flexible. Can't find a rental with a washer/dryer under $1,800 in Brooklyn's Park Slope? Try Astoria in Queens instead or plan to send out your laundry.

5. Get your paperwork in order. If you find an apartment you love, you have to act fast to get it before someone does. To do that, you might need a copy of your most recent paystubs, tax returns from the past two years, a color copy of your driver’s license and/or passport, a list of references and a current credit report. Don't forget a bank-certified check to close the deal.