Sunday, February 5, 2012

Apartment Hunt - Upper West Side

After yesterday's apartment hunt resulting in a broker saying they didn't have anything matching my requirements at my price range, today I started with Craigslist listings again.  I SMS'ed a few brokers with interesting ads, left one voice mail, and sent a couple of emails.

I looked on Craigslist for both Park Slope in Brooklyn and various neighborhoods in Manhattan.  Eventually one broker with a couple of Manhattan apartment ads, one for Murray Hill and one for the East Village, replied to my SMS, about ten seconds after I sent it saying to give him a call.  I saw both of his ads last weekend, too, so that means those apartments haven't been snapped up in a week, despite being relatively inexpensive…

So, I called him, and he said his office is open till 3pm so I should go there and we'll do some searches on the computer and go out and see some.  I asked for directions and it was right at Times Square, so I got dressed and headed out…

I got to the office around 2:15pm.  The elevator opened up onto a gigantic office with neat rows of small desks, each with a small computer and screen and telephone on them.  Being Sunday it was mostly empty.  The receptionists' desk was right at the front, so I went to her to tell her I had an appointment with Mike Z.  She gave me some forms to fill out, the same ones all brokers give, so I filled those out and returned them to her.  She said "someone will be with you in a moment."

And in a moment a broker, Chrystal, came to get me and took me to her desk.  She asked a bit about what I was looking for and my budget and all that, with a little small talk while she hit keys on the keyboard and made notes on paper.  She said looking for a two bedroom apartment in my price range would be tough, though not necessarily impossible, and only being able to look at apartments on the weekends would make viewing them a little harder.

After a little while a large fellow came into the office and sat at the desk next to Chrystal's and they chit-chatted a bit.  She mentioned something about sending him back to where he'd just come from.  And that turned out to be that she wanted me to go see an apartment on the Upper West Side that he'd just shown some other people.  Chrystal said that Chris would take me up there, and after I saw it he'd call her on the phone and I could tell her what I thought.  She said "I don't own this apartment and my company doesn't own it, so you can be totally honest about what you think of it and I won't be offended."

So, Chris took me out…  He asked if I had a MetroCard for the subway, and I did.  He said we'd take the B train up there, as he only realized on his way back to the office from the last trip that the B was right by the apartment, much closer than the 1 train.  We headed down into the Rockefeller Center subway station.

Down there the first train that came was a D, which we got on, but then he checked a map on his cell phone and held the door when it closed, saying we had to get off, it was the wrong train. So we waited, chit-chatting a bit.  He was happy to dress casual on a Sunday workday, when he isn't required to wear a suit and tie.  He asked if I was going to watch the Super Bowl, that he lost interest in sports a while ago, but was going to a Super Bowl party with friends, mainly for the beer and food.

Another D train came, then an F on the opposite side of the platform, but still no B.  When yet another D train came he said we'll just get on that to 59th Street and switch to a 1 train.  Which we did…  The 59th Street station was jam packed with people and we had to run through the crowds to catch the 1.

We got off that at 103rd Street and Broadway, with a few blocks walk to the apartment, which was near Central Park.  Unfortunately, we had to walk through "the projects", which didn't feel safe at all.  "Projects" is the urban terminology for gov't built housing for lower income people, and in many cases they're centers for gang crime, violence and drugs…  The apartment wasn't actually in the projects, just one block away.

This apartment was the biggest I've seen so far, with really tall ceilings and a long, long hallway from the entrance to the living room, off of which there was the bathroom and one of the bedrooms.  The main bedroom had a really tall closet, as well.  It was on the ground floor, but the buildings around were all a bit taller so to see the sky meant moving up really close to the window to be able to look upwards.  Otherwise it only had views of the neighboring buildings., and since it was at the back of that building, no view of the street out front.

I asked Chris about safety there, being so close to the projects.  He said he couldn't honestly say it was safe.  He said it wasn't likely "anything would go down" but that "if something were to go down, this is where it would happen."  He said he know some guys who lived in the projects and they were great guys, but not everyone there is.  I asked if I'd be safe coming and going at night and he said that would be a little bit of a risk, and I asked "how about my wife, could she walk around here alone at night?" and he admitted it might be a risk.

On our way out he called Chrystal at the office and said that I really didn't like the location, and she said that was okay, since I liked other aspects of the apartment that we were on the right track.  She'll look at listings and things and we'll see about going out to look at more on Friday after work next week, since I have a half day.  In the meantime she said she'll be in touch about listings by email during the week.

From there, I was the last client of the day, so Chris took the subway wherever he was going, somewhere to watch the Super Bowl with buddies.  And it was early for me to head back to the apartment, so I walked along Central Park West from 103rd Street, where we were, all along the park to Columbus Circle, which is by 59th and 60th Streets.  I sat there and wrote in my diary a little bit, then walked down to 57th Street to catch the Q train back to Brooklyn where I changed to an R train to Park Slope…

It was a long trip there to look at one apartment...


  1. I think part of the problem, that's making this so hard, is that my desires and my budget have only the faintest sliver of overlap.

  2. I could imagine what a long day that must've been. Apartment hunting could be so stressful and exhausting, but I assume you managed well and found the one that suits you. Cheers!

    Susan Scott @ Ballarat Apartments

  3. Looking for a new place to live in really takes a lot of effort. It can be quite frustrating as well, because you're not sure if the one you’ll be visiting is as good as it was described in the listings. And in your case, the place seems quite dangerous. Anyway, how are things doing now? I hope you were able to find another place soon after.

    Lois Becker @ Finlay Brewer

  4. Things are good in this apartment. We've lived here for nearly three years now, and are aware of the trade-offs...

    It's a cool location to live in, lots of people and life all around, but we have to deal with a tiny apartment. It's so small that we can't even fit a queen sized bed in the room while still being able to open and close the room and closet doors... So, we've settled on using piles of blankets for a bed....

    For now we like this trade-off... In the future we may weigh things differently. We'll see...