Last year when we were searching for apartments in New York, we looked at 35 apartments in the swift span of two days. After a few hours of running from one building to another, it felt like looking through a kaleidoscope, the unique details of each apartment melding into the next, with just a semblance of focus on one or two units. We were living in San Francisco at the time, and had only one weekend to look.
We looked at units on the Upper East Side, and found one on 72nd Street that was spacious with a nice kitchen and mediocre closet space. Having a nice kitchen was a priority and continues to be a priority today. I remember telling my coworker, Angela, at the time about the apartment on 72nd, and I received the most interesting response from her. She tilted her nose in the air and informed me stiffly, "Not high enough."
I still chuckle about what she said. She told me she had an apartment on 86th Street, but I didn't know anything more about that apartment except that it was on a higher street, which it isn't necessarily desirable for us.
Ultimately we chose a 900 sq. ft. unit in mid-town in a high-rise building that was convenient to work, spacious by Manhattan standards, and had a fresh coat of paint. The last advantage also worked against us as it served as a disguise to a significant flaw of the apartment that would ultimately lead us to look for a new home again this year. After a few minutes of walking around the unit, checking the closets and looking into the cabinets, my husband detected the second hand smoke. The real estate broker and the leasing agent immediately suggested that he might be confusing the smell of fresh paint with cigarette smoke. The leasing agent further reassured him that the apartment's lease had very strict language against second hand smoke.
As you may know from the recent post, the strict language didn't help us one iota when we moved into the apartment. In fact, the building maintenance manager told us, "off the record," of course, that it was more likely that we would get evicted before he does. Why is that? (1) He is a senior citizen, (2) he's been living in the apartment for at least five years, (3) his apartment is rent-controlled. It has an anti-discrimination case written all over it.
Alternative solutions were also exhausted. The apartments have been sealed to the best of their ability since August of last year. We asked if we could relocate to another unit, or if the other guy could be moved. The answer in August was no. This year with three months left on our lease, the answer moderated to yes, but with limited options. There were no units on the market with our apartment's layout, so we could move to another unit and downsize to 650 sq. ft from the current 900 sq. ft. and pay the same price we're currently paying, for a one bedroom that is almost one-third less space! Also, there are no guarantees that we would not encounter the same second hand smoke problems in the new unit or further in the future, if a new tenant moves into a neighboring unit. Additionally, we would incur the entire expense of moving. Doesn't it feel like they want us to move out?
So we looked for a new home last week. We found one on the Upper East Side that was spacious with an interesting kitchen layout. Nice right? But upon closer look at the picture above, you can see that the refrigerator buts up against the sink, also there is no additional cabinet space. Oh and there's also no air conditioning in the unit either. Have you ever suffered through a muggy summer on the East Coast? It had just come on the market that Thursday, and a few hours later before we could even blink.
That last apartment wasn't something that we seriously considered for the shortcomings noted but it definitely taught us that we needed to make decisions faster. We did finally make an offer on an apartment that came on the market last Friday. It has a nice kitchen, full amenities and most importantly a washer and dryer (!!!) in the unit, which is very rare in Manhattan. The lobby looks like a hotel, and actually living in Manhattan feels a lot like living in a hotel. We submitted the application very early Saturday morning, thinking that we should at least sleep on it, after all the application fee required a significant deposit that we would lose if we changed our mind. Since the leasing office was closed over the weekend, we weren't informed until Tuesday morning that there was one application ahead of us. Ugh! Why didn't they tell us on Monday that someone was ahead of us?
At that point we decided to pound the pavement again, and submitted an application on an apartment that has a nice kitchen, good closet space and a large living room. We did get the apartment, and we're moving on Thursday. I hope that this will be a place that we will love and eventually call home. We didn't enter into our current apartment thinking that we would move again the next year, so hopefully we do not have a repeat of the last year's events.
I want to express my warmest gratitude for all of the support, prayers and well wishes left on the last post. It provided a good push for us to move forward and I'm convinced it gave good karma in finding the new apartment.