Monday, June 02, 2008

The Elusive Manhattan Apartment

The apartment search ends.

I guess that statement would pack a little more punch if I had blogged about the apartment hunt when it started. Four weeks, a dozen apartment viewings, hundreds of hours on craigslist, many real estate LOLs, a decision 2-weeks into the hunt to enlist a roommate, three brokers, two applications, a shitload of money upfront and half a head of grey hair later, Natasha and I signed a lease on an apartment in Hell's Kitchen.

Our pros to doubling the security deposit and paying both first and last months' rent outweighed the cons of continuing the search and drowning in the summer rush of recent college graduates arriving in the city. Even though our combined salaries exceed $100k a year and we both have excellent credit, securing a fabulous new residence in Manhattan still cost us an arm, a leg, the promise of our yet-to-be-conceived first borns, and a moderate amount of our sanity. All of which were happily stored away and earning interest in several bank accounts until the day we signed the lease in midtown.

Over drinks in an adorable bar a few blocks from our potential new spot, we made a list to aid our hasty decision; however, we knew we had to act fast if we didn't want yet another available apartment to slip through our fingers.

- The majority of available units below $2500/month in midtown are very small for two people, who aren't a couple - including the $2300/month apartment we applied for last week, in which part of her bedroom would have been in the living room (yet we were willing to apply for it because it had cute french doors and was on a nice block)
- High ceilings
- Big living room with exposed brick
- There is actual counter space and a good amount of cabinetry in the kitchen (the $2300 apartment that we didn't get last Thursday had no counters; just a stove, sink, refrigerator and a few cabinets ... and EIK? Fuggetaboutit)
- The kitchen opens into the living room and can accommodate a small table for two
- Real two-bedroom, and the second bedroom is a decent size; many two-bedrooms have one large bedroom and a tiny second bedroom
- Both bedrooms have closets (we were suprised how often the second bedroom often had no closet due to conversion from a one-bedroom)
- Exposed brick in the large bedroom
- Large storage nook with sliding doors above the closet in the large bedroom
- Tall windows with seats in both bedrooms facing the street and gorgeous views over adjacent rooftops of the Time Warner Center, Trump Towers and other highrises on Central Park South
- The bathroom is large enough for two girls to do their makeup in the mirror at the same time (very rare) and has a full bathtub with sliding glass doors (the bathroom in the $2300 apartment had no towel rods installed, a weird pipe from floor to ceiling that you had to step around to get to the sink, a tiny shower stall with no curtain rod and you had to step over the toilet to get into it)
- Intercom security to the main entrance of the building
- Nice neighbors, who are our age; we saw a few when viewing the apartment
- Beautiful, tree-lined block
- Nearby: laundromat, post office, grocery stores, several gyms (no more taking my gym bag to the office and happy hours just because I have to get a morning workout in; now I'll still be able to go to the gym before work, get ready at home and walk to work gym bag-free!)
- Less than 10 blocks south of Central Park
- Short job and nightlife commutes
- Cheaper MetroCards in the warmer months because we can both walk to our jobs
- Within one block of the C/E line and two blocks of the 1 train
- We liked the paint scheme used by the previous tenants and not too much cleaning is needed
- Within a block of our apartment, we've already discovered Afgan, Chinese, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Mexican and Thai restaurants ... and some sort of tropical burger place
- Overpriced 24-hour parking garage across the street (for visitors with cars)
- The broker dropped the fee by $1500
- The landlord accepted our offer of $100 less than his asking price per month, but we have to begin our lease this Friday

- The landlord accepted our offer of $100 less than his asking price per month, but we have to begin our lease this Friday
- I have to break my current lease, but I happen to know that the rent on my studio in Harlem will go up to $1350 in November, if I stay (I might as well pay a few hundred dollars more a month to live closer to my job and the places I frequent)
- Rent is a bit higher than we originally thought we'd like to pay before we started apartment hunting (but as we continued looking, we realized that our original budget of $1900-$2300 was generally unrealistic for two people, who aren't a couple, to have the amenities we wanted in a midtown neighborhood)
- Our doubled security deposit will sit in an escrow account and will accumulate little interest
- Fourth floor walk-up (NYC real estate speak for "fifth floor"), but we'll have great legs
- No laundry in the building
- We'll be eating Ramen Noodles for dinner every night until we're 30
- We'll have to eat out less to save money
- We'll have to buy new clothes less to save money
- We'll have to drink less to save money
- Basically, we'll have to put all of these recommended, money-saving measures into effect immediately

But I'm moving on down ... to Hell's Kitchen!


K said...

Congrats! I think the best part of the "pros" list was the part about the cheaper Metro Card :)

Anonymous said...

Congrats!! I'm kind of frightened by the NYC real estate scene. lol Especially in Manhattan! Think I might go live in Brooklyn, at least the first year...


CONGRATS ON THE NEW APT!!! Im sure you will enjoy it! Hell's kitchen is a hot area! I'll eventually make it further downtown, after I sale an unborn child, a kidney, get another promotion, and by cooking more rather than eating out and buying unnecessary things!

If you need help moving anything, you know the number...I'm on vacation starting Friday afternoon! Don't have a car though, but I can help you unload a u-haul. hahah (::tearing up:: sold the car because it was not a necessity!...and I miss it dearly!! Grocery shopping is just not the same :o( )