I’ve let my writing lapse lately. Not because I haven’t felt creative or because I have some type of block but because of something else entirely: the most nerve-racking, intensely stressful hunt I’ve ever been on. And for my fellow New Yorkers out there, you know exactly what I’m writing about.
The Apartment Hunt
It’s one of the most stressful situations you can put yourself in — more stressful than final exams, more stressful than LSAT prep, more stressful than defusing a nuclear bomb (well, maybe not the last one. You’ll have to excuse me, I’ve been watching a lot of Chuck lately.)
For most New Yorkers it lasts a few days or a week. I got lucky my first time around and was safely living out-of-state, therefore placing the burden on my roommates. It felt easy the first time. I looked at some pictures. I oohhed and I ahhed. I submitted my credit application. I had my guarantor sign-off, and I was on the lease. Did I mention my first apartment was located in Brooklyn?
Well, this time it’s a whole different animal.
You can choose to use a broker. You’ll see some beautiful apartments and gawk at the low monthly rent. Then you’ll get smacked in the face with the big number you have to pay up front. So that option is out. There wasn’t enough light in that apartment anyway, you tell yourself.
The next day you sit rigidly at your desk, your right index finger on the mouse which hovers over the refresh button on Craigslist. You pour through the no-fee listings and send out mass e-mails, hoping one, just one, will bite.
One finally does, and you hurry over to the East Village and look at the “$2200 / 2br – Winged two bedroom.” (For the uninformed readers in the crowd, “winged” implies an apartment with bedrooms on opposite sides with no living room.) It smells like curry and there is, in fact, a broker’s fee. Did they forget to mention that in the ad?
So it’s back to the drawing board. You run madly around the Village pulling out your hair. Well, maybe you only imagine doing that as you sit in that coffee shop on 12th and Avenue A sipping an iced coffee — the best five minutes of your day.
Thoughts race through your head: Maybe this isn’t worth it. Maybe you should have just stayed in Brooklyn. Maybe you’ll be homeless and have to move in with family in Connecticut.
When suddenly, you get an e-mail from someone inviting you to look at a bedroom and sign your name on the lease today. You trip over yourself trying to get to the apartment, praying you’ll beat every other Joe Smo from Craigslist.
You accidentally kick an old woman pushing a cart full of Trader Joe’s bags on your up Third Avenue, but disregard her mouthful of obscenities. You’re getting to this apartment. And you’re not letting anyone stop you.
You race down the block, neck and neck with an invisible person who is likely running to the same apartment from the opposite direction. You nod to the super at the front door and make your way up to the third floor in several bounds. You tell yourself this is it. This is the perfect apartment and it will be yours. As long as it has enough room to fit that bulky queen size bed you bought for your spacious Williamsburg apartment, this will be the apartment for you.
Two steps into the front door, past the spotless, white-tiled bathroom toward the too-big-to-be-Manhattan living room, you hear those horrible words: “I’ll take it.”
“NOOOOOO” you bellow at the mid-20s girl with polished nails and immaculate hair (she must have taken a cab here, looking at those heels).
Discouraged and downtrodden, you exit the apartment that will never be yours and find an inviting park bench in the neighboring park. Maybe this will be your new home. It’s not so bad, anyways. May be cold in the winter, but you should surely be able to find an apartment by then.
Manhattan real estate may be a tease, promising wondrous opportunities and affordable (not really) housing, but it’s got to put out sometime. I mean, it can’t keep teasing you forever, right?