You know that warning, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear”? Well, if there was an equivalent warning for apartment hunting in NYC it would be, “Units in listing are SMALLER than they appear.” In the name of all that is good and holy, how can some of these apartments (term used loosely) actually pass the requirements for human occupancy?? I recently climbed five flights into a seedy apartment that was missing the apartment part. I couldn’t help but laugh and ask the broker if it was a joke. He said, “No. There’s already an application pending.” Uh, come again?
After living in a truly great and reasonably priced apartment for four years, the time has come for me to venture out on my own, sans roommates. But let me tell you, my walk-up with no laundry is like the Taj Mahal compared to the closets passing themselves off as living spaces out there. And they ain’t cheap! StreetEasy’s ad sums it up best:
It’s funny ’cause it’s true.
And while I’m a fairly easy going person in most aspects of my life, I can be extremely picky for a lot of the big things. I’m kind of like Goldilocks, it has to be juuuust right. Although, when it comes down to it, my non-negotiables–windows that look out onto more than a brick wall, a kitchen that actually facilitates the cooking of a meal and at least ONE CLOSET–are pretty modest requirements? Right? Right? Not in NY. Or at least not in NY on my budget. A budget that anywhere else would constitute a mortgage payment and then some, is actually on the low end here. I’m not asking for frills, I just want a fridge in my kitchen and my bed, you know, not.
At the risk of this post becoming a StreetEasy promo, here’s another example of their painfully apropos ad copy: “I used to want pre-war, but then I lived in pre-war and now I want post-war.” And I’ve realized this is so true. I drool over the charm of an old building with all that crown molding and beautiful hardwood. But what you actually end up with is warped flooring, no closets and a staircase that quivers under the weight of a toe. Not to mention outdated/poorly maintained appliances. Or a long walk to the subway. This process entails much more striking out than running home.
And about the kitchen situation. Lord. Help. Me. I cook home at least four nights a week, so I
need want need a fully operating kitchen and *some* counter space. I recently saw an ad for a studio that was upwards of $2K a month that had no kitchen. Not a one. Just a dorm room-sized fridge and a sad excuse of a stove top. When I expressed my dismay to the broker, he responded by saying this “kitchen” was ideal for people who “eat cereal and make tea :)” A smiley face, sir? Cereal and tea?
No rant about apartment hunting in New York would be complete without the mention of a broker fee. Ah, yes. The 15% you are expected to fork over up front along with first and last month’s rent. You might as well just say, “Here, take all of my money. No really, you should have it.” I’ve been *incredibly* lucky to have avoided broker’s fees with both of the apartments I’ve lived in, and I’m really hoping to avoid it again this time. Because when you think about it, the landlord is in the vulnerable position of needing a tenant, so HE/SHE should pay the broker’s fee. But in New York, the landlords hold the cards so us renters just have to show them the money. And also pound the pavement. My health app has been racking up all the steps as I walk around Brooklyn looking at apartments. If you see a frazzled blonde speed walking across Atlantic Avenue in the next few weeks, it’s probably me! Or as Justin would say, “it’s probably may.”
That’s the hard truth about “location, location, location.” You’ve got to work for it. But I love this city, so as much as these horror stories make good fodder for friends, family, coworkers and anyone who will listen, it’s also exciting. The optimist in me can’t wait to find that perfect studio or junior 1BR (LOL) to hang my Goorin Bros hat in. And if I have to compromise on curb appeal or laundry, so be it. (If the laundry gods are listening, I really want a washer/dryer.) It’s like dating; you have to cycle through the meh ones before you find The One. And I can’t wait. To decorate. To have friends over. To come home after work and not talk to anyone. So, until then, I’ll be over here texting brokers and scrolling through Zillow and Zumper (who names these things?) until I find The One.