Sunday, February 12, 2012

Apartment Hunt - Weekend 2

Friday February 10, 2012

I left work around 12:15pm.  I took the subway home to get things organized, but got extremely frustrated at Atlantic Avenue - Pacific Street because the blasted R train took longer to come than it would've taken me to walk home, though of course I couldn't have predicted that.

When I got out of the subway station I had a voice mail and SMS from Elise at Manhattan Apartments.  She works with Crystal, who I'd arranged to see apartments with today.  Elise said to call her about scheduling a time and place to meet up.  I got to my apartment, then called Elise and we fixed up for 2:30pm at the corner of East 83rd Street & York Avenue.

I quickly got dressed and went down to the subway, and again the R train took longer than average to come.  Fortunately at Atlantic Avenue - Pacific Street the 4 express train got there as soon as I got to the platform, and that whisked me up Manhattan to the Upper East Side.  I got off at 86th Street & Lexington Avenue and walked the few blocks down.

Just as I got near the corner and saw one woman standing alone at each of three of the four corners of the intersection, I got an SMS on my phone from Elise saying she was at the northeast corner, so I went over and met her.

She took me to see the first apartment, on 83rd Street.  It was a 6th floor walk-up.  That means, no elevator…  I was huffing and puffing by the time we got up there, and sweating like crazy from the effort.  She was fine…  Other than that, it was a decent apartment.  It had more windows than I've seen in other apartments, on three sides, and being so high up it wasn't blocked too much by other buildings.  It was a bit of a mess as one of the two tenants hadn't moved out yet and she had stuff all over, partially packed (she wasn't there, but from the clothes and shoes strewn about, it was obviously a "she").  The one who had moved out was a smoker, and there was lots of cigarette debris in her room.  This one was $2,395 a month.

I told Elise that it was some of what we wanted in an apartment, but not the sixth floor without an elevator, that just wouldn't work.

The next one she was going to take me to was one that Andrej took me to last week, with the view of the river.  I told her that, since there would definitely be a conflict if two brokers took me to the same place, if I picked it.  She said that was okay and we skipped it.

Then we went to another that was awful.  It was on the 2nd floor, with an elevator, but the apartment itself just wasn't very good.  One bedroom had a view of the back yards of all the buildings around, and would get decent sunsets.  The other windows all faced another building just a couple of feet away, and were dark.  The kitchen had a big area, but only an itty bitty counter top.  I didn't like this one at all…

Back on the street she couldn't get hold of the person to let us into the last apartment on her list, so we couldn't see that one.

She called Crystal at the office and went over my feedback, and also said she didn't like that second apartment, either, "it's just not a good apartment," then gave me the phone to talk to Crystal.  I told Crystal that now we're thinking about one bedroom apartments and she said that gave a lot more possibilities, including nicer, more luxurious apartments in the same price range.  So, she'll do some research and I'll meet her tomorrow afternoon.

From there Elise took the subway back to the office, and I walked around the Upper East Side a little.  It's a nice neighborhood.  I made my way to Central Park, and through there down to 58th Street.

I took an F train down to 23rd Street where I got out and walked over towards the High Line.  I stopped at the New York Burger Co. for some dinner or lunch.  I got a beef burger, well done, with sweet potato fries and a blueberry milkshake.

Then I went up onto the High Line for a little bit.  And then over to Union Square.

New York City had light snow on Wednesday, and it looks like they scraped it all up into a pile in Union Square.  There was a lot of snow there, more than I thought we had altogether.

I stayed there for a little bit, then took the Q train to Brooklyn and transferred to the R train to Park Slope.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

After Leena and I got off the phone I hit the shower, and then waited for Crystal from Manhattan Apartments to call.  I thought she'd said on Friday that she would call after she got to the office at 12pm.

By around 1pm she hadn't called, so I called and left a voice mail for her.  And waited, getting anxious and frustrated at nothing happening…  Around 2pm I called and left another voice mail. But this time I said I was just going to head to her office, since that would get me there sooner than if I waited to hear from her, and if she'd planned on having someone meet me at an apartment, her office was closer to that than my apartment would be if I was waiting.

So, I got dressed and headed out.  It wasn't snowing any more and none had stuck to the ground, but I moved all my gear into a more weatherproof backpack, just in case, and wore shoes instead of sandals.

I dozed off quite a bit on the R train, but managed to wake up enough to get off at the 49th Street stop, which is right at 7th Avenue.  The exit is right at the Manhattan Apartments office, so there's not much of a walk.

I went up to the 4th floor and went in.  I told the receptionist that I was there to see Crystal, and she said Crystal was in a conference call, but she'd go tell her.  A few minutes later Crystal came out, with a phone to her ear, and indicated "one minute".

A few minutes later Chris, the guy she sent me with last Sunday, came over and led me to her desk.  She'd arranged for me to see two apartments in Midtown West, or Hell's Kitchen, the neighborhood between Times Square and the Hudson River.

The first one was on 46th Street, one block from where 46th Street has an official city street sign that says "Restaurant Row" because of all the restaurants…  Lots of good food options there.  But I didn't like the apartment much.  It had windows that only faced north, so it wouldn't get much sunlight, and a too small kitchen (granted, bigger than that one Friday).

The second one, on 49th Street, was much better and I didn't immediately say "no" to it.  It's one I'll definitely consider.  It had windows on the correct side of the apartment to get sunlight, a better kitchen, a nicer bathroom and all that.  The floor looked pretty good, too.  And at $1,950 a month it's less expensive.

On the other hand, we were there for an "open house" in which a representative of the landlord was there to show it to anyone who came.  A few other brokers and their clients came and went, too…  The landlord's representative was a cute college girl with a European accent doing this part-time.  Chris was busy trying to chat her up, and she was giving the shortest possible answers without being too rude for a professional work day…

After that Chris and I walked back towards his office and made plans for tomorrow.  They want him to show me some apartments on the Upper East Side, which weren't available today, as the company that has the keys closes at 2pm on Saturdays.  So we arranged for noon on Sunday.

After Chris went to his office, I walked around the area a bit.  I went over to Grand Central Terminal, used the bathroom, then bought a container of sushi from a take-out place, and a pastry from a bakery.  I took those over to Bryant Park to get a table and write in my diary about the day and eat, but the music from the ice skating rink was too loud, so I figured I'd go somewhere quieter, Times Square.

A quick walk over to Times Square and I found all the tables and chairs were folded up and locked, probably from some event that might've needed more space there or something.  So I went back to Bryant Park, and found a less noisy part of it to sit and write until my fingers were too numb from cold to continue.

I took the F train back to Brooklyn, and it was one of the most crowded subway trains I'd been on.  Maybe there was some event somewhere, I don't know.  It was standing all the way, though that's not unusual, but I was getting squashed between some of the stops when there were more people than between others.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

After Leena and I got off the phone I quickly got dressed and headed out.  I went down to the nearby station to get the R train to Atlantic Avenue - Pacific Street for transferring to a 4 express to the Upper East Side.

But things were confusing…  Signs at Atlantic Avenue - Pacific Street said the 4 train was running on the local tracks due to weather.  However when I went to the local track, there didn't seem to be any sign that the 4 would go there.  And while I was waiting, I heard an announcement from the express platform that a 4 train was approaching.  I dashed down the stairs, under the tracks, and up the stairs to the express platform, just catching the 4 as it came in…

On the way up to 86th Street three different people got on the train to solicit money from other passengers.  I gave a buck to a young woman who said she was a college student from the Virgin Islands and sang a beautiful song she said she wrote herself.  I couldn't hear most of the words, but she sounded good.

I got off at 86th & Lexington about half an hour earlier than our meeting time, so I wandered around a little bit.  Once I reached the street corner I sent Chris an SMS saying that I was there, so if he was around we could meet up, but if he was in the subway that was fine, I'd just walk around a bit.  Which is what I ended up doing, admiring the metal grills on some of the apartment buildings that I was pretty sure were far out of my budget…  There was a biting cold wind around there and I kept my hands in my pockets to keep them warm.

At about 11:55am I returned to 80th Street & 3rd Avenue and spotted Chris there.  He said he messed up on the plan, and needed to go to another realtor's office first to get keys.  I knew the office from when Andrej had to keep returning there last weekend, being given only a single key at a time.  Chris said he'd try to ask them for all the keys at once, but couldn't guarantee they'd give them.  He said it would be a real pain for us if they made him come back for one key at a time.

It was about four blocks out of the way, and he said I could stay where I was, meet him at the first apartment or join him on the walk.  So, I joined him on the walk.  On the way I told him that we were still thinking about the 49th Street one and he got on the phone with Crystal to confirm that it was still available.

It was nice and warm in that company's office, a good break from the biting cold wind outside.  It took him a while, but he managed to get all the keys he requested, but he said there was a complication, his realtor's license hadn't yet been received by his employer, so if I ended up liking one of the apartments he was going to show me, he'd have to get someone else from his company to come out and do the paperwork with me.

We headed out…

The first apartment was close to where we met, on 80th Street between 2nd & 3rd Avenues.  The key the company gave him opened the downstairs door, but when we got up to the actual apartment, the key didn't work and we couldn't get in…  He was busy trying to call up the company about the key when another broker came with another client.  He had a key that worked, so we all went in.  While we were there, yet another broker came with yet another client…  Chris asked the broker which other places they were going to see and their list was a pretty close match to our list...

I didn't like it at all…  The other buildings nearby were taller, so the sky wasn't visible at all from this one.  The living room and kitchen were just one room, no divider or anything between them, and very small.  The only two things nice about this one were the gigantic bathroom, that was the biggest room in the apartment, and a high-tech video intercom to the front door of the building.

The next apartment was up on 89th Street, between 1st & 2nd Avenues.  While we walked the nine blocks up he called Crystal at the office, giving her my feedback on what I didn't like, and she told him to cancel two of the ones he got keys for, as she knew I would reject them as well for the same reason.

The one on 89th Street was also very small, with almost no kitchen counter space, and the windows faced north, so they'd get very little sunlight.  The building to the east was taller, so that would eliminate even early morning summer sunshine.  The bathroom was really classy, though, with nice black and white tile work.  And the bedroom window opened out onto a nice, big fire escape for sitting outside during nice weather.  But it was one to reject anyway…

Then the next one was a block away on 89th Street.  Chris's key got us in the door, but when we climbed up to the fourth floor (that would be third floor by Indian floor numbering) and found the door, the key didn't fit in the lock.  We waited around a bit, and he tried calling both the company that gave him the key and Crystal at his office, but we didn't have any way to get inside.

At that point, having been disappointed in the ones up there anyway, I said I'd go for the one on 49th Street that he showed me yesterday, the one we both liked.  So, he said he'd go return the keys and I should take the subway to his office for Crystal to do the application.

I went over to Lexington & 86th to catch the subway where I got off of it earlier.  I started to wait for a 4 express, but then realized it wouldn't stop at 49th Street near Times Square, by their office, but only at Grand Central Terminal, giving me a 10 block walk or so.  But then I also remembered that its next stop was at 59th Street and Lexington, where I could transfer to an R train that would stop right across the street from their office, so I did that…

In their building, I went to the lobby and got into an open elevator.  As I was pressing the button I heard the security guard ask me what my business was, but I was already on my way up.  In their office Crystal saw me come in and waved me to her desk.

We started the paperwork for it all.  I had a long application to fill out, including some credit stuff.  I had to pay a nonrefundable $60 fee for the credit check, which I was expecting.  What I wasn't expecting was she didn't get any money for me for the deposit on the apartment.  She said she prefers to wait till the application goes through, so that if things don't work, it's less hassle about refunding it.

She gave me a list of some other papers to get and email to her for the application.  If the application is approved then I'll need to go to their office and pay the bigger chunks by credit card, or get bank checks at the bank to give to them.  She actually mentioned the bank checks first, and I asked if it was possible to pay by card and she said it was, they'd run the card and then their company would get bank checks to give the landlord.  I told her that sounded easier for me, so I wouldn't have to wait in line at a bank.

I left there and walked back over by the apartment I picked again to take a look and see what else was around there.  I didn't see any large grocery stores, but hopefully a little walk around will turn something up like that.  We'll see…  Lots and lots and lots of restaurants to order from, of course.  And for a break to get outside the apartment, there's Times Square close by…

Then I walked down to the Port Authority Bus Terminal where I used the public restroom and caught an A express train to Brooklyn, where I transferred to an F train to Park Slope.

South facing view from the 6th floor walkup...

One of the bedrooms in the 6th floor walk-up...  Not quite vacated yet...

Living room of the 6th floor walkup...

View from the bedroom of the 2nd floor elevator apt.

Kitchen of the 2nd floor apt, surprisingly, not the smallest I'll see by the end of the weekend...

Apartment on 46th Street. Later I realized the floor boards not running the length of the room is part of why it felt wrong.

This one on 49th Street is the one I picked and have applied for...

Living room on 49th Street

View from 49th Street.

Chris in the 49th Street apartment

Kitchen in the 49th Street apartment.

Bathroom in the 89th Street.  One of the few with a vanity for storage.

80th Street.  I could not tilt the camera up high enough to get even a glimpse of the sky...

80th Street. High tech security next to the doors (bathroom white, entrance black)

80th Street kitchen and living room combination room (door leads to the bedroom)

Back of the 89th Street apartment, lots of space to go outside, but faced north so no direct sunlight.

Bathroom of the 89th Street one, very classic and nice.

Kitchen of the 89th Street apartment.  Yeah, the whole kitchen.

Living room view of the kitchen on 89th Street...


  1. The apartment on the 49th looks nice. Which one did you pick? Whichever you chose, I hope your weekends of apartment hunting were fruitful! Have a good day!

    Susan Scott @ Ballarat Apartments

  2. I picked the 49th Street one... I sent photos to my wife, who was overseas at the time, and that's the one she liked as well...

    Earlier this year we renewed the lease for two more years, so we're here for a while.

    The apartment itself isn't great, it's very small (350 square feet, compared to the 2,300 square foot one we own in another country) but it's acceptable and the location is fantastic...