Apartment hunting in NY

19.Mai 2006 Tina

From friends who were moving to NY as well in March (hi Lisa & Myles!), we heard horrible stories about the hunt for a more or less decent apartment in Manhattan. All the places they had seen were really really small and for that well over-priced. We, too, had to learn very soon that we had to cut down on our demands. Ideally, we wanted to have an apartment in a rather quiet area with 2 bedrooms, not too small, bright and with a private or at least some sort of outdoor space. Oh, and the apartment had to be affordable as well.

Well, balconies or gardens are not very common in Manhattan. We looked at one place that had a garden, and the garden was really nice too, but the rest of the apartment was shite and actually exceeding our budget anyway. No matter how expensive the apartments were, apart from this one none of them had private outdoor space. Okay, so we had to cut that one. The next thing was the size of the rooms, especially the bedrooms. We did see one or two apartments which weren’t that bad, but the rooms were so small that the bed often would’ve just fit but to open the closet with the bed in the room you would have had to do be inventive.

We looked at one place right next to a park which was not bad at all apart from the problem with the bedroom. But for some reason it did not really ‘click’ when I imagined living there.
The problem was, although we were prepared to spend a small fortune for the rent, our real-estate agent only came up with 4 apartments that supposedly matched our imaginations. And it turned out that most of them didn’t even match our imaginations at all. They were either really dark or too small. That’s the thing though with many places in Manhattan. As there are buildings everywhere, most or basically all apartments are quite dark, at least some of the rooms.

But apparently, there was a bit of a misunderstanding with our broker as she had only looked for places on the Upper West Side which would’ve been our favourite area. But we were fine with the Upper East Side, too, at least up to a certain point in the north (above that it get’s a bit dodgy). While we were looking at one last place on the UWS on Monday evening, the broker rang us that two apartments on the UES had just come up and we had the chance to look at them spontaneously the same night. One of them was a dungeon with windows with iron gates and really really dark. The other one though … was great!! It was really spacious, the master bedroom was huge and also the second bedroom was quite big. And it had closets over and over in both bedrooms and the hall. The apartment was on the 7th floor of a building right on the East River. It was facing NO other buildings (apart from across the river but that doesn’t count), so all of the rooms were really bright. The living room had 5 windows alone overlooking the river and it was very spacious, too. The size of the walk-through kitchen was fine, it wasn’t very big but certainly big enough with lots of storage room. The only small room was the bathroom but then again all bathrooms in Manhattan just have the basics like a toilet, a sink and a bathtub with shower. But it was in a good condition (we’d seen really disgusting bathrooms too), so it was alright. The 2 only negative things about this place was for one the missing outdoor space, however, it had a rooftop which is opened in the summer. From what we saw I think it’s not that great but maybe good enough to go up there once in a while in the summer. The other thing is that there’s a freeway running between the building and the river. This might sound absolutely horrible but in the apartment you actually didn’t hear that much of the traffic at all to our surprise. Living on an avenue or near an avenue in the city is a lot noisier. Well, we left the apartment with a really good feeling but wanted to come back the next morning to check on the traffic once again. So we did, and again we found it alright (although we are used to living in a very quiet area in Munich).

So, we told our broker that we wanted to move forward with an application. The good thing over here is, the rule is: First come, first served. All our paper work had been approved (we had to bring lots of stuff, from employment confirmations, savings statements and salary sheets up to tax return statements and a passport with a valid US visa) and as we were the first ones, we got the apartment! I’m pretty sure, for the money we are paying we got one of the nicest and largest apartments you can get in Manhattan. We do pay quite a lot but then again the price for the apartment is justified – by Manhattan standards that is. In New Jersey, we’d probably get a really big house with a big backyard for that money or even less. Who knows, if Manhattan is getting on our nerves after two years or so, we might move a bit further out for the rest of the time we’re staying here. But for now we are Manhattanites. :-)

P. S. We can’t offer any pics of the apartment just yet as the current tenant is still living there but we took some from the area around the building and of the building itself. Check them out in the ‘Photos’ section. I commented them but I think you can only see the comments when you are NOT viewing them via slideshow.

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