New York City – Apartment Hunting

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I’ll start by saying, everything you have heard about New York being expensive and only the wealthy and celebrities can live in Manhattan now, is proving to be true.  We had a 2200 sq. ft. house, had a huge garage sale, gave everything else away and downsized to what we thought might fit in an apartment in New York.  The picture I’ve attached to the blog is hubby’s temporary housing.  It is considered very very roomy.  I don’t know this yet but will soon find out.

The hubby and I get a weekend to do nothing but apartment shop in NYC!!!  No kids, just apartment hunting for the two of us.  Late night walks, intimate dinner and finding our future home!  I was so excited that not even the 9 hours of flying and layovers could put a damper on my mood.  I had done a lot of research prior to coming up so I felt good.  I felt prepared and I had even lined up two realtors to assist us the very next morning.  You know pitting one realtor against another.  Get the best deal.  I was ready to find my, oops I mean our, new home.

I arrive in NYC, my hubby picks me up from the airport and we go back to his temporary housing supplied by the new kick ass job. Time for a side note here, I apologize in advance for the swearing and the crassness of any of my posts, apparently becoming a New Yorker switches the on button to the part of your brain that had been turned off since you were in your 20’s.  I used to get a chore stick (standard punishment in our household for swearing, self explanatory) about once every two weeks before moving.  Now my girls have stopped counting once I reached 20-25 a week.  Somewhere around the 6 month mark, words just started flying out and I do not know how to combat this.  I am open to any suggestions.  Side note complete.  So hubby and I are laying in bed in temporary housing the night before we start with my first realtor.  He asks me what properties we are going to see.  I say that the realtor suggested the downtown (Wall Street) area as our most bang for the buck. He would be taking us around that area.  He then asks, well where I want to look them up and see.  You see, while he studied for 6 months to get the kick ass job in NY, my job was to get to know the housing situation and figure it out.  I browsed and searched and went to hundreds and hundreds of pages about living in NY and apartment hunting.  6 months work and my favorites toolbar getting out of control with new links and links off of those links.  So my dander might have been a bit ruffled when I tried to explain to him how he can’t see the apartments on the internet they need to be shown to us.  Why he asks?  I mean how old is he, three?  How could I possibly explain to him everything I had crammed into my head over the last six months.  It was 11pm the night before the first day of the rest of our lives.  We spend it arguing on how I couldn’t explain why he couldn’t look at the apartments online.  In retrospect, not a bad question, but I’m still not admitting that I didn’t have the answer that didn’t take a few hours to explain.  At least I had my realtors.  I was armed and ready to call them at 8am in the morning to find out where to meet.  We spent our first night in NY with our queen size bed trying to avoid irritating each other anymore than we had.  Not a good start.

The main thing that I learned during those six months is that looking at apartments on various sites, craigslist & anywhere else is bait & switch is the name of the game.  You see what looks to be like a decent prospect on a random website, craigslist or realtor site but there is no address listed.  After emailing you get canned response asking for a number where someone can reach you at.  I began noticing the same pictures for different listings.  Once they call you, they tell you that they do not have that specific apartment available but they are sure they can locate your new “home”.  There are basically two types of apartments, one is a “no fee” rental or “owner paid” rental and the other one is a “fee” apartment.  When working with an agent the fee can be up to 20% of the annual rent.  Say at the top of our price range $3500 x 12 months and we are looking at about $8400 paid to the broker.  Plus the first and last and security deposit.  You are looking at almost $20,000 to move into your new and wonderful apartment.  We are beginning to see why only the wealthy and blessed are living in NYC.  So our only listings that we would be looking at would be the owner paid or no fee ones.  Since we had to short sale our house due to the economy, we do not have $20,000 lying around to put down for rent (this would be a considered down payment on a house in most states!).  Then there are the horror stories you read in the news of people being scammed out of first and last renting an apartment that is not available or real.  You see, when we were looking for an apartment in NYC, the vacancy rate was .05%.  Or so we were told by an agent.  I don’t think it could be that low but when you do your homework you will find that apartments go up in the morning and are rented by that afternoon.  So people were putting down money site unseen and being scammed out of their entire savings.  So there is a lot of homework to be done and until you are in the city and can go look at a specific apartment at a moments notice, it is really hard to pin anything down.

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