Sunday, November 2, 2008

Finally have a feel of where to live

After close to 2 months of searching, I am finally figuring out where I want to live. Not everyone searching for an NYC apartment has the luxury of time and I am happy to not be in a rush (although with each passing night of almost no sleep due to my neighbors I crack a bit more).

I have gotten to re-know Soho a lot better now that I am working down there. Things came full circle for me on Saturday when I was checking out an apartment and happened to walk by The Bitter End on Bleecker. I used to see shows there all the time and suddenly I rebuilt the mental map I used to have of the area. Most of the shops and bars I used to hit are long closed but it's great that some are still around. After that I didn't have to check my map for subways -- I knew where I was.

So in Soho I've figured out that my block of choice is Sullivan between Spring and Prince. Close to work, close to shopping, close to several subway lines. If I could afford it I'd love to live on Greene or Mercer or Crosby but those all seem to be the most expensive rentals (and one Nigeran scam that I replied to. Oops.). In Nolita Mott and Elizabeth seem to be the blocks of choice. That area is closer to the 6 train but further from work. I've also expanded a bit to include the West Village up to West 4th St. I realized that area is convenient to work, close to Union Square and that's where Washington Square Park is! With NYU close by I'm a bit wary but willing to consider it.

Washington Square Park

I saw about 10 apartments this week. Most were by-owner and the rest were broker no-fees. The good news is rents are definitely starting to come down. Everything I saw this week except for the bait and switch apartments was negotiable. In some cases the owner came right out and said it was negotiable and other times I had to ask. In two cases I saw apartments being shown by current tenants. Both were in the financial industry and had just lost their jobs. You can tell landlords are starting to get nervous. The credit standards are tougher and they want long-term commitments.

The best apartments I saw were a cute 1 BR on Thompson and a lovely studio on West 4th St. The 1 BR was one of the fired financial industry tenants. She was very nice and kindly allowed me to view the apartment one night after work. It had an old old kitchenette and an old bathroom with a shower stall (no tub) but was otherwise lovely. Exposed brick walls, built-in shelving and a bedroom large enough for a full-sized bed plus a small dresser. In total it was about the size of my current apartment. I've given up on finding a large apartment. At this point 350 sq. feet is my goal. If you want more you will pay out the nose for it. That apartment was $2300/mo but has since dropped to $2150/month. I feel that $2150/mo is pretty fair.

The West 4th St studio had a kitchen and two closets to die for. The kitchen was redone last year with Bosch appliances including a dishwasher and a built-in microwave/stove/oven combination thingy. The counter backsplash was cool glass tile. The closets were both California Closet-style and there was even a tiny balcony with a view of the Washington Square Park arch. But it was a bit smaller than what I currently have. The closets were not enough to overcome this so I passed. It was $2400/mo.

The worst apartments I saw were: a 1 BR on the Upper East Side (I had a weak moment) where the bathroom was in the bedroom and even though it was on the 4th floor every window had bars on it, creating a dark dank feel and a 1 BR on Mott St that had a bathroom that reeked of mold. I couldn't see any but I knew it had either been there or was growing in. No windows, no ventilation, no thanks. It was $2295/mo. I also saw a two-room studio on West 3rd whose only window faced another building 2 feet away and whose kitchen ran the entire wall of a narrow living area. There was no room for anything else really. It was $2300/mo.

I am going to see 3 more apartments tomorrow. I still haven't figured out how to get my finances in order in time but I am so ready to move. I can't wait to find a place!

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