Monday, July 16, 2007


As in, apartments by owner. I don't actually plan to move into the city until October 1, but I tend to be impatient and I want to see what's out there. I know I'm at a disadvantage because of my salary - my salary which would easily buy a house in many places but might not even yield a closet in New York City. That's ok, this is my choice.

With a budget of about $1650/mo, or $1700 if utilities are included, I should still be able to get a decent sized studio or maybe even a 1-bedroom in Manhattan. I feel a bit stubborn, if I'm moving to the city, I don't want to do Brooklyn and be a half hour away from work or friends still. My dream is to land in Gramercy, Union Square or Flatiron. I'm also cool with Chelsea, the Upper East Side or even Midtown East.

Like many, I want to avoid the broker thing. This means Craigslist is my best friend and at times my worst enemy. And Backpage. Looking for that needle in the hay...avoiding the abundant scams. Right now, anything without a definitive location (cross streets, etc.) is out, as is anything without at least one photo. Vague descriptions about high ceilings and big windows mean kitchenettes and no closets. Broker with no fee listings make me wary.

It's so tempting to jump to an "all apartments" search. Seems like the brokers get the best listings, and why not? They do the leg work so owners and management companies don't have to. So I have to play my own broker - I do the legwork now.

First stop - Upper East Side, $1575 and $1595/Studios. Deals seem to be abundant up here. Friends tell me this area has peaked with people in their 20s like me and the social scene has moved downtown. I was disappointed that it took me almost 20 minutes to get from 23rd St to 86th St on the 4-5-6 line, mostly because it was another 20 minutes of walking to get to the two apartments at 83rd and 1st Ave. The apartments were not horrible, but there was no way that they would work for me. Each was probably around 200 sq. feet with a stove/fridge kitchenette and a bathroom from the 50s. No air conditioning, a one-room insanity maker.

Next stop - Financial District, $1650, Lg Studio. I hadn't considered it before and after the trip, I knew why. The area is great during the day - hotties in their Wall Street suits and city officials, but come nighttime the place is a ghost town. I got lost on the way on the streets with names instead of numbers. Wouldn't want to have to make that walk at 3 AM. The apartment was decent - bright, with plenty of windows, but an odd layout that left little usable space. I couldn't figure out where my full-sized bed would fit, so it was out.

Final stop - Midtown East, $1575 alcove studio. A broker/no fee apartment on 57th and Lex. Beautiful studio! The full kitchen had a dishwasher, and the charming black-white subway tiles matched the cute bathroom. The hardwood floors were nice and the apartment was a decent size - I'd guess around 450 sq. feet with an alcove that could easily be divided into a bedroom. The good was quickly washed away though, when the broker revealed the true deal - $1575 with a broker fee of $2500 or $1700/mo. With utilities not included, it was out of my reach. As the final insult, the broker told me I wasn't qualified anyway because I don't make 40 times the rent. Right - it would be way better if I made $63,000 but had $20,000 in debt.

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