Friday, December 16, 2011

The Final Countdown: A Renter's Tale

I saw my new apartment for the first time today, via video-tour recorded on my new roommate's iPhone. I should start by saying that I absolutely love it, and can't even believe that I am lucky enough to be moving into a recently gut-renovated apartment in Manhattan(ish) for $250 dollars less per month than I am currently paying in Columbus! It seems like a dream come true! Or too good to be true, I thought, until I saw this video and my mind was finally put at ease. I think I'm handling myself well considering I'm headed to a city where I've never lived, to an apartment I've never actually seen (in person, or in video until today) and starting work at a new office with people I've never met before! Come to think of it, I haven't actually seen the office either, since my interviews were done through video correspondence. In 13 days, I move, pretty much site-unseen.

I'm just relieved that I know all of my roommates, and that they shouldered the brunt of the apartment hunt for me while I chillaxed in Ohio. Thanks, guys! It's all brand-new with hardwood floors, 1.5 baths, granite countertops in the kitchen, and pretty decent sized bedrooms. While it's not Selling New York material, it's definitely nicer than anything I ever expected... I guess it helps to pony up for the broker's fee...

Hear the entire saga of our apartment hunt (which was definitely not as easy as I just made it sound) after the jump!

So my friend Ryan Dean and his two roommates (both lovely ladies that I like quite a lot!) happened to be thinking about moving when I called him and first told him the news that I had applied to a job in NYC. After the initial excitement, and then a long job application/interview process (almost 4 months), and a few more panic-attack-phone-calls, it just so happened to fortuitously work out that we would all be wanting to move right around the same time. My start date is January 2, and their lease was up at the end of December, so they agreed to let me join their roommate-group and start looking for 4-bedrooms instead of 3. As far as I know, they fell in love with this apartment at first sight, even before I formally got my new job offer.

Then, happily, I accepted the position, and they decided to move forward with this place after having seen a couple less-desirable ones in there... That's when I realized the application part of angling for a great New York apartment was pretty extensive. I promptly had to provide the following very personal information to our broker:

A filled-out application 
Complete with my social security number, my lawyer and bankers' names/phone numbers, emergency contact info (pretty standard) and the last 2 apartments I lived in here in C-bus and all the realty company contact info for both. Plus the other basics.
Bank Statements for the past 2 months
So they can see exactly how many Diet Cokes I drink each day? Scary thought.
Last year's tax returns
Not sure how this helps really...
A letter of employment from my new company
A copy of my signed offer letter sufficed, since I never actually did get this from them. Come to think of it, I might not even really have a job there at all... I haven't been in touch with them since I signed my offer. Note to self: Send a "hello again" e-mail on monday. 

Luckily, we all found out that we have excellent credit, and they didn't find anything too terribly incriminating while fishing through my personal information. Also, I have some peace of mind knowing that everyone on this building (since there are some co-ops in there too) has gone through a similar rigorous application process so we're all equally squeaky!

Now, the saga continues...
Bad news: Part 1
We found out, immediately after, that the apartment they fell in love with, where this actual video (I think) was taken, was rented to someone else.

Good news: Part 1
"No worries, guys. We have an identical unit on the 4th floor, that you'd love equally as much!" Sounds fine to me...I'm not picky, considering I haven't seen either unit at this point. But the roomies feel happy with this, so I'm happy.

Bad news: Part 2
Womp Womp. The current tenants aren't going to be out in time for us to move in on January 1. They've told the landlord they need time, and while they could pursue an eviction, it would still give those guys 90 days to vacate. (Good to know that in NYC, I won't ever have to be homeless without a good 90-day layover to figure out my life again!) But pretty pointless on their end to even move forward with that, since it doesn't give anyone the desired outcomes they want...

Good (we think?) news: Part 2
They had another identical unit on the 2nd floor! Sounded great to me, since again, I still haven't seen any of this, or lived in New York, so things like "more natural light" or "less mice (hopefully)" don't really mean anything to me. Not as ideal for my future roommates, who do live in New York and happen to know that the higher the unit, the better the chance of catching some sunshine over all the other buildings. Also, less likely that the view out your window will just be a brick wall. I figured all that was part of the Big City experience, so it didn't bug me too much.

Bad news: Part 3
The roomies, and the broker, were a bit annoyed that the 2nd floor unit was going for the same price as the "penthouse" on the 6th floor that they originally saw. The lower the unit, the less the rent, sometimes...due to the natural light and little critters mentioned previously. They decided to see if the landlord would wiggle a little on our rent price...but if not, we weren't really sure what the next step was. It could be to start looking all over again, or it could be to live in their current 3-bedroom apartment for a few months until those pesky hangers-on in the 4th floor unit were ready to get a move-on.

I felt pretty conflicted about this particular situation, because I didn't really care about natural light, or mice (we have those guys here in C-bus too, so I'm not as skittish about it) and just wanted to get some kind of solution locked down where I had a place to come home at night and relax. Especially after such a crazy move, starting a new job, missing friends, and generally freaking out. So crashing on their couch with all my belongings strewn about their poor little living room, and the rest of my loot in a storage unit, didn't seem like an ideal option. BUT, in the end it all worked out!

Good, then Bad, then Good again news: Part 3
The landlord agreed to knock some money off the rent in order to coax us into the 2nd floor unit. Every penny counts! But unfortunately, it turned out that this unit wouldn't be ready by our move-in date either...After the hot-mess process so far, I was pretty much ready to give up on this apartment, since I still hadn't seen it, and there was no way it could have been worth all this drama (Uhh, did you see the video? I was w-r-o-n-g.) The landlord felt equally bad about giving us the run-around 3 different times, and agreed to put us up in a temporary un-renovated 3-bedroom apartment right down the hall. Our unit will be ready by February 1, and we all signed a rider agreement that it would look exactly like the one they wanted all along. And we agreed to not put any crazy holes in the walls, or paint, or really nest in the temporary place.

I really missed out on most of this angst, because I didn't really even know what we were fighting for! But in the end, it all worked out perfectly. We get a nice, newly-renovated apartment, with some rent discounts! We're in the same building, which is just around the corner from a subway stop. And I can move in one big sweep, rather than mess around with storage units and double moving-truck, and all that jazz. If I didn't have at least one big hiccup in this whole moving-to-NYC process, I'd be really worried. My friend from design school, and new co-worker, slept on a box for her entire first week in New York. I like to imagine that she used a large sheet of bubble wrap as a blanket, but I'm just editorializing...

Anyway, after seeing the video walk-through, it all feels real. And really great. And it looks so wonderful that I am more than happy to crash on a mattress on the floor for a few weeks. I'll probably be so overwhelmed with everything else, that I will just be glad to come home and not be sleeping on a box. Or in a box! 14 days!


  1. Wow! I'm actually curious what your rent is (if you don't mind) since its lower than in Columbus, and that's a really nice apartment near a Subway line... also what neighborhood? You've got some nice views!

    And Congrats on the move AND the job. I've known several people from college who moved out there with out a job, and it was rough for them until they found one!

  2. how exciting!! You are totally brave... I dunno if I could do it ;)

  3. Thanks Rob! I will send you a facebook message with all the info. I am ultra excited about the apartment, the move, the new job...everything. I'm starting to get a little scared, but that's to be expected, I suppose!

  4. Haha, thanks Maegan! I don't know if it's bravery, or blind optimism, but I am really excited. I think I'll do well there, and I'm hoping it's nowhere near as scary as people who've never lived there assume it will be... Love it or hate it, it's something I definitely needed to cross off my "Do This While You're Still Young Enough To Enjoy It" list!

  5. Right on! Congratulations looks awesome! I don't know how much yr paying but yr place looks fantastic! When I lived there, I lived in a 1 bedroom railroad in West Village and the living room was my bedroom. The front door opened and would hit my bed, and the toilet was in my room. I had windows, but they faced brick walls. That was $900/mo!!