Monday, October 22, 2007

Translating apartmend ad terms

Two of my friends are considering moving to the city. My friend D, who currently lives about an hour outside of Chicago, seems a bit overwhelmed. He emails me at least two questions a day (which I am happy to answer) and calls every other night.

Right now, his major difficulty is understanding what different terms mean. With him in mind, I created a list of terms I didn't know or understand until I started looking for an apartment:

Alcove studio - This is a studio that is either 1) L-shaped or 2) has a partial indent on one wall big enough for you to stand in. Alcove studios are great because they can help define areas in an otherwise small apartment. Sometimes the alcove is big enough for your bed. Sometimes it's only big enough to hold built-in shelves.

An example of an alcove studio.
The alcove is where the bed is.

Jr. 1 bedroom - Though legally a studio, this apartment enough of a division between the living space and a second area to have a 'separate' bedroom. If the alcove studio pictured above had french doors leading to the alcove, it would become a Jr. 1 BR. Oftentimes the living area and bedroom are divided by french doors. Sometimes a 3/4 wall (a wall that does not go all the way up to the ceiling) divides the areas. Other times there is a doorway with no door. Beware of brokers or landlords trying to charge you 1 BR rates for this type of apartment.

Loft - This means one of two things. A loft layout means the apartment is one big open space. No walls. You define the areas. A sleeping loft means the ceilings are high enough in the apartment that the landlord put in a raised nook. You use a ladder to get up there. Almost always used for a bed or storage. You can almost never stand up all the way in the loft.

A sleeping loft.

Convertible - example: 2 BR convertible. No, not the car silly. This means there is enough space in one area of the apartment to make two separate living areas. A 500 sq. foot studio that is one long room is a great example. You can use divider screens to make that 'separate' bedroom you've been dreaming of. The past tense is converted. Another buyer beware - if an apartment is listed as a 3 BR converted, that means one of the walls is not a legal wall. Be careful hanging anything from that wall, and prepare for a severe lack of soundproofing.

Galley kitchen - The good news is your kitchen is a separate room from the living area. The bad news is it's probably tight. The term comes from kitchens on ships. It's a long narrow room, usually with the walking area in the middle with cabinets/appliances on either side. In my apartment, only one side has this. The other side is a wall. An open kitchen means the kitchen is in the living area and usually eating up valuable square footage.

If only my galley kitchen were
this big.

Garden level apartment - This apartment is either on the ground floor or in between the ground floor and the basement. The good news is these apartments usually have a backyard. The bad news is these apartments almost always have critters and/or mice (if only I'd known...). Sometimes these are maisonettes, which means they have a separate entrance from the rest of the building.

Parquet floors - a wood floor pattern that resembles a checkerboard in some ways. Really popular in the 1980s, these are coming back into style.

Parquet floors.

King size or Queen size apartment - Real estate slang for bigger than normal. Often an exaggeration.

Pre-war - An apartment in a building built before World War II. These are the buildings that tend to have the high ceilings, the ornate details, etc. Mostly on the East side of the city. Post-war buildings are known for amenities like storage basements, gyms, and laundry rooms.

Oblique views - This means that if you crane your neck, you can see something cool (like the Empire State building) out the apartment windows.

Terrace - The difference between a terrace and a balcony is that a terrace is part of the roof (common in higher buildings with multiple roof levels) and a balcony is a living area on the side of a building.

Walk-up - There is no elevator in the building. I have friends who live on the 5th floor of a walk-up. Needless to say, they don't get many visitors and they're in great shape.

En suite bathroom - To access this bathroom, you must walk through a bedroom. A good number of NYC 1 BR apartments have a powder room (a bathroom with no shower) in the living area and an en suite bathroom off the bedroom.

Pied a terre - A second home. Rich bastards like to rent these out as short term rentals while they are at home numero uno. If you can find one of these, you can usually rent it for a steal as long as you are responsible and lucky.

Sublet - In a sublet, the lease holder is renting out the apartment for part or all of their lease. This means your name never actually appears on the lease. Obviously, there are advantages and disadvantages to this. Make sure the building/landlord/management company where you sublet allows this or you may find yourself kicked to the curb.

No comments: