I honestly cannot believe last month I resigned my lease for my apartment in New York City for another year. That means this is the third August 14th that I have spent living in New York even though every year since moving in has felt like the warmest day of Summer ever.
Yet here I am, always with my window A/C unit blowing into my face because I cannot stand how hot the top floor can get. I switch from either suffering as I feel either sweat drip down the crevasses behind my knees as I crisscross my legs as a makeshift laptop stand when the unit is off or a having a dry mouth and a raspy voice from the partially filtered air being run into the room when it is on.
Regardless, Hannah in 2017 would have never thought that two years from my first moving day would be spent in a courtroom in lower manhattan because I was called into juror duty. My stomach growls for the train ride home to my Upper West Side apartment, so I can eat pulled pork sandwiches that I made in the Instant Pot because it is way too warm to have the oven going for any reason.
I took the featured photo the summer before I moved, July of 2017. My father and I had spent the entire week apartment hunting, and I was feeling the ungodly stress that is “apartment hunting in NYC.” I experienced my first mental breakdown and subsided into tears on the steps leading up to a brownstone on St. Marks in the East Village. I had my heart set on an apartment on 9th Street and was at war with another renter for the same place, mind you, my favorite one was the first one we saw out of 25+ apartments.
I dragged my feet up walk-ups to only be disappointed and nervous that I would lose the one I loved. It all worked out in the end, I landed my first apartment in NYC, and it only set me back 2,785 dollars a month. We celebrated the completion of the ordeal with an afternoon in Central Park; little did I know I would end up living blocks from the location the photo was taken within the next year.
(I also say only as sarcastically as I can: I had friends in the Village paying roughly the same or more, and I had friends in Brooklyn starring at my wide-eyed as I shelled out how much I spent for my first apartment in New York.)
However, as you’ve read, I no longer live in the East Village. I have only visited my old neighborhood once or twice in the past year; weirdly since it was my life for nearly a year. When I did, it felt strange to cross over Broadway from my campus at NYU and head into the more historically grime-y neighborhood. I lived for the rock-n-roll, hardcore scene back then, and the avenue life gave me. As I traveled through life and New York and found out the nightlife was my vice and not my friend, I knew I needed a change.
After looking to move last year, and this year, I still suffered the same mental breakdowns and subsided into tears on the steps leading up to brownstones and the horror of apartment searches. But as always, rent prices rise, and I am still struggling to afford Manhattan.
My current apartment suffers from a four-story walk-up and outdated furnishings. It’s significantly cheaper than my last apartment and comes equipped with slanted and uneven surfaces. It’s “homeier,” as many put it, compared to my previous apartment. But with my partner and I making the leap to save money in Manhattan by sharing a place, I found myself wanting to find something that was “ours”.
I wanted a two-bedroom in the UWS. I wanted it to have exposed brick, and for it to be within budget. I was thinking our combined income gave us more wiggle room, but in turn, I experienced so much more horror with trying to move this year.
I recently went back to look at an older blog post that I recalled giving apartment hunting advice on. It went as follows:
Research before and find the median prices and keep an eye out for what is for sale. // Go in with a price range, but expect to change it. // Breath. Between. Viewing. They may be short, but don’t hold your breath. // Figure what you need and know where you can and cannot compromise // Research the building, there is a difference between 4 complaints and 400. // Brooker fees suck, but sometimes fee-less apartments suck more. // Love the area, you are going to be spending time walking there.// Envision yourself in there, if you can’t, move on. // Have all your paperwork ready or readily available. // Apply when you know and don’t let doubt prolong the situation.
Now having two years under my belt in this concrete cluster, I know some of those tips stand, but there needs to be an explanation with each.
- Streeteasy.com is your friend. Use it, filter it as much as you can, but remember the photos always look better online.
- Brokers/Real Estate people want to be your friend, but they have no problem rushing you along if they want a sale, so breathe.
- You’ll need to know what you are capable of when going into a viewing. Is 5 flights, okay? Can you do with only one drawer in the kitchen? Well, of course, you are capable of walking upstairs, but with 22 lbs of laundry/ this week’s groceries make a difference. Yes, and if you cook, 2 drawers make a HUGE difference.
- Research complaints AND your management. I’ve had some nightmares with mine, and I wish I asked more questions in the beginning.
- Fees Suck. Period.
- Love where you live, know what’s around you, but then spend your year exploring. As much as the Village was sucking in Feb/March, come May when I was packing everything up, there was so much I was missing out on.
- Paperwork is important but also measure during viewings. If your couch fit in the door before, it doesn’t mean it will fit in a NYC apartment door.
- There will be downfalls of the apartment, weigh the downfalls and figure what you need most.
This past year, my partner and I started looking in March when we had two rents and too much invested after finding the ideal spacial and updated apartment that was around the corner from our current one. it takes a lot to apply and have to not follow through with it, brokers will also hate you, but you need to do what’s best for you––you’re living there, not them.