Thursday, February 8th, 2007...2:30 am

NYC Apartments Search = Hell

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I’ve been doing the whole apartment hunting thing for the last six weeks in Manhattan and it just doesn’t seem to be working out all that well. I’m searching for a studio or one bedroom in a cool neighborhood with a space that has a bit of character/uniqueness and with private outdoor space being the ultimate. To me, Cool neighborhoods are the East Village, West Village, SoHo, Union Square and Gramercy. I don’t want a doorman building, and don’t mind trekking up a few flights of stairs.

To be honest, I’m not really stoked to move into the city. It’s not like I’m a wide-eyed Piper Parabo in Cayote Ugly. I spent the first seven years of my life in NYC and lived there for all of 2005 as well. I’m just more of a bbq and backyard kind of dude that enjoys my own space and privacy. After college I lived on the beach in San Diego and I guess it kind of spoiled my expectations for my relationships with my living space.

Unfortunately, I can only live in my parent’s basement and take myself seriously as an adult/person for so long before I turn into the dude in Grandma’s Boy. Girls don’t think it’s all that slick that I’m surrounded by my GI Joe air craft carrier and that I’ve connected both my Playstation2 and Sega Genesis to the same TV. Dudes think it’s kind of slick — but can only imagine with horror how it is to hang out with their parents every night (if your dad is Howie Hoops, its not all that bad).

I would look into moving to other parts of the Island or Brooklyn but practically every friend I hang out with these days lives in Manhattan and that is where I go out at night. Great Neck is super close to the city (my door to door commute is just a bit over an hour) so no matter where I would live outside of Manhattan my commute to work would be about the same.

I guess I am willing to spend over a few thousand dollars on rent each month if I find the right place. In some parts of the world that amount could buy me a mansion with miles of land and plenty of man servants. In San Diego it can get me an amazing two story place right on the ocean or by the bay. In NYC, that will be lucky to get me 400 square feet. It doesn’t make much sense. I get the whole “there is no place like the big apple” spiel but how am I supposed to appreciate a city when I work 60 hours a week and then give it all back to rent out a closet?

Throw in the money-sucking leeches known as real estate brokers and your initial payment to get the keys to an apartment is somewhere around the GDP of a central African nation state.

Brokers are tremendously competent when it comes too…

  • Making up random information and telling you about apartments that have already been rented.
  • Wasting your time.
  • Calling you up to tell you they will call you back later.
  • Asking you for as much personal information as possible and making you sign forms.
  • Giving humanity a bad name.

For all these wonderful services brokers will charge 15% of one year of rent (almost 1.5 months). If all goes well on their end, the broker will exert no effort and add no value to you in securing the apartment.

Needless to say, I am only looking at apartments that have no brokers fee. I’m attached to that spare three grand burning a hole in my bank account. But no fee apartments open up another can of worms. Usually, it is a tenant that is scrambling to find a sublet to break his lease or a building owner that is watching his asset multiple faster than the asbestos in the walls.

I recently found a promising apartment on craigslist in the west village that I must admit sounded too good to be true. I figured I would write a quick note anyway and see what happens.

This is the letter I received back

———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Jan 18, 2007 12:32 PM
Subject: Re: $1630 / 2br – 2 Huge Bedrooms in West Village (West Village)

I would love to speak with you by phone but I can’t because Im deaf-mute person and I teaching in TX for a deaf-mute school. The keys are in my hands and my parents are in Europe for 2 months, this is the reason that I want to make the deal directly with you. Im the owner of the apt and I can rent it without problems. I havea a idea for this deal. First you have to send the money via MoneyGram on your friend name and after you will see the apt and you want to keep it you have to resend the money in my name. Its safe for you because I can’t pick up the funds until you will see the apt and you resend the money on my name. If you agree please send me your full name and address where I have to ship the keys and I will send you all payment process.

Unbelievable. Too good to be true. I went back and forth with Helen Keller’s disciple but for some reason didn’t pull the trigger on the money gram. With a simple Google Search I found out from the real broker that this was a fraud as she is the exclusive broker and the apartment rents for $7,000 a month.

Anyway, I’m going to continue to search. I’m on no deadline so I can wait until I find the perfect place. My savings account has no qualms with the current rent I’m paying.

If you are in the same boat as me here is how I go about my search.

  • Talk to people. I let everybody know I’m looking for a place (hence this post) and tell them to keep their eyes open for me.
  • Craig’s List. I created an RSS feed to show me all no fee apartments within a certain price range and neighborhood and check the feed daily.
  • No fee management companies websites. This includes Sky Management, Jakobson Realty, Eberhart Bros, etc.
  • New York Times Sunday Classified Seciton
  • Speaking to doormen, homeless bums and anybody else who seems like an insider.

Ok, this post is dragging on. Let me know if you have any ideas for me or know of an available apartment.

  • jon miller

    We’re doing roomie searches for our place in SF since we booted out the old girl that is a mild clepto and has a nasty habit of cooking up shots of crystal meth in the kitchen. Why are good roomies so hard to find?

    And Litty, I love SF and my place, and our place in SD was a little dumpy, but wasn’t that beach freaking amazing? Did it get any better than dragging out the lawn chairs and the sunblock on a December morning to read books in the sand? Wiffle ball? Fucking wiffle ball?