The Apartment Hop

I dreamt there were city people and country people and they were the same people and they lived in the woods in a house upstate that was also on the number 4 train line. The 4 is express into the city. I dreamt that we viewed the apartment, which was actually a house with a garden on the roof. Rooms kept appearing as we went (this is common in my dreams, dreaming of houses that continue to expand). It looked quite lived in, a little upper middle classy. If that still exists. Anyway, carpets, chandeliers, a little luxy, but also modestly sized. 

It was also a short term place, only for the year. I feel like everything in my life is short term right now. I am about to leave again, and again and again, in every way I can. Even as I am moving I am already leaving. 

My partner has a job and I am in graduate school, but we planned on moving in together last year and this is where we are at: my lease is ending and it’s time to start making some decisions. And the reality is that, when the date is set it doesn’t move but seems to approach with a determined ferocity. 

The apartment search in New York City is hard. I have been here for 11 years and the longest I have been in one apartment has been three years, and by the time I left that place I was so ready to leave because I had been living in a basement (in Greenpoint, which is why I had stayed so long). 

Here are some tips for finding the right apartment when you need to, and when to let apartments go. 

The apartment search can feel a lot like gambling. The most helpful apartment searches for me have been a dedicated day to working with a broker, or going from showing to showing. The thing that is important to know, and what makes the whole thing a little bonkers, is that you pretty much need to decide on the spot if you want the place. I have thought and decided on several places and then lost them within an hour or two of leaving the apartment.

I have decided on places and then wondered if I made the decision out of desperation.

This means you must be clear about what you want at the get go - especially in relation to New York City real estate. When making a decision here is the reality: 

1) there are a lot of apartments

2)There are a lot of shitty apartments 

3) There are a lot of wonderful apartments

4) You are working against time - how many weeks/days do you have to make the decision

To be clear, you don’t have to choose a place that doesn’t make you feel good when you walk in. There are spirits among us. And when you live with them you feel them, you feel them the moment you walk into a space. But in general you want to be clear on the following: 

  1. Price

  2. Windows

  3. Location (I like to be close to some “natural” place like a park or a river, but this could be proximity to train or work etc…)

  4. Closet space 

The list may go on, and you will want to make your own list. This is very helpful when you have to make a decision on the spot.

And I wonder to myself, when will this transience end? Is it just part of living in New York City when the rents keep rising? I have worked in non-profits, I have been a student, my budget was never very high for apartments. I have lived in collectives, and lofts, I have lived with roommates, I have tried hard not to live with family, but found myself on my mother’s couch more that once, I will live with a significant other. 

And here’s what I wonder, for the New York City folks, tell me, how many apartments have you lived in? What do you think about the good old apartment/living space crawl. Do you have any tips? Experiences with living situations or moving situations. 

I’d love to publish your piece next time! Email me at ilylalee@gmail.com