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07 June 2011

THE GREAT APARTMENT HUNT so far, is a bust.[More:]We've seen a good number of places, but so far, nothing. We've started the application process on two places we've liked, but someone has beat us to the punch on each place. And we've seen some places that, eh, just weren't places we'd want to live. More places today! Tomorrow! And the next day! Until we find something!
I don't hate brokers as much as I hate job recruiters, but they're on the list.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 07 June | 08:51
I've got a lovely place with a view of the harbor for lease, but your commute would suck. :)

I love looking at apartments when I'm not having to move; I pop into open houses when I'm walking around the city. I hope you find something nice soon!
posted by crush-onastick 07 June | 09:03
I have an appointment at 1 for a place that just went on the market. Pictures look nice. It'll probably be rented before I get there!

You know what I'm finding I'm not crazy about in apartments? Separate kitchens. I've seen a few- yes, they're nice because you get extra counter and cabinet space, but you're cutoff from the rest of the apartment. The place I'm seeing at 1 has a kitchen that's in the living room; I think I might like that more. You could make up for lost counter space with a big work table or something.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 07 June | 09:24
I'm right there with you! We're looking to move to the town where I work. I cannot WAIT to ditch the commute. I've really just gotten started - seeing my 3rd place today. The first was spacious and up-to-date but kind of a "recently divorced guy" apartment - basic white walls, no trim, near a busy hangout area. The second was lovely, in a building with two quiet mature types in a leafy, quiet neighborhood with a nice yard and close to work - but it was just too small for two, with an odd layout. I'm seeing the 3rd today, a loft-y type place in an old mill building.

You know what I'm finding I'm not crazy about in apartments? Separate kitchens.

Yeah, I'm more open to having an open kitchen than I used to be. I generally like apartments in old houses the best - I like the character of the houses, I like old nieghborhoods, etc. But this apartment we have now has changed my opinion about the room layout. I was excited to have a dedicated dining room - we never use it. It's really a "mail drop" room in which the mail drop is on the dining table. And it is situated on the first floor between kitchen and living room. It's amazing how out of the mix you can feel if one person is cooking in the kitchen and the other is reading or watching a movie in the living room. It's the largest apartment I've ever had, and I'm not digging the separateness. Funnily enough, we were attracted to having ALL THAT SPACE, but we end up spending almost every evening in the kitchen, with laptops, dinner, reading, and baseball on the radio. We actually use less space than we had in our old, tiny apartments.

So I'm starting to think an open living area plan might actually be fun. Loving a vintage kitchen as I do, it will be pretty much impossible to find the perfect aspects of both in a rental, but for this next place I could see going with a more modern layout.

One nice thing is not having a deadline, which I have had with most of my other moves. We can look and look until we find a place, though I hope it's sooner not later.

Good luck to you. You know how homeowners have that thing where you bury a St. Joseph statue to sell your house? Why don't renters have some kind of apartment-finding juju like that?
posted by Miko 07 June | 09:35
It's amazing how out of the mix you can feel if one person is cooking in the kitchen and the other is reading or watching a movie in the living room.

Yeah, that's exactly what I'm looking to avoid! It's funny, we've seen and even applied for some really huge place, and although the space is initially appealing, then I start to think- how are we going to furnish this big place? And are we really going to be sitting at opposite ends of this huge place? It'll seem strange after all 4 of us (me, Marc, cat, dog) have been squeezing into our basement cave for so long.

I don't know any apartment-finding jujus, but I will accept any ideas! I'm a good interpretive dancer, perhaps I could make something up.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 07 June | 09:57
I'm looking at the pictures closely now, and it looks like the stove might be junior-sized, with only 2 burners. Why on earth would you install a dishwasher but not a full-sized oven/stove? You wouldn't even need a dishwasher! You'd never be able to cook anything!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 07 June | 11:00
The nice thing about a separate kitchen is that you can use it without making the entire apartment an oven in the summer. Trying to do anything with an oven or prolonged stovetop simmering in a living-room kitchen in the summer makes everyone miserable.
posted by enn 07 June | 11:05
Well I guess that explains the teeny oven/stove then! Why, they're practically doing you a favor!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 07 June | 11:07
Are you sure it is a full-size dishwasher?
posted by Ardiril 07 June | 11:41
My single apartment is the only one in the triplex with a separate kitchen. When it's otherwise one room, it's nice, but when the total floor space for everything is under 500 feet, not so much (tiniest sink possible, barely room for an apartment-sized fridge). I got a kick out of getting this place with the sign you can see from Highway 101 (southbound): "Hillcrest Ranch" but it still feels like a converted motel. But it was the first place that rented to me with my then-crappy credit (and when it changed hands, the new owner admitted I'd paid too much deposit and gave me a month off from rent - I love this guy), otherwise I'd likely be living in Morro Bay in either a converted retail space or a single-wide trailer. Funky living on the Central Coast!
posted by oneswellfoop 07 June | 13:15
Apartment hunting in NYC sounds like a huge amount of work. I've only rented for a couple of years as an adult but that was in a suburban township with only two or three rental complexes so there's wasn't much to choose from.
posted by octothorpe 07 June | 13:28
It's called a Hollywood kitchen....I saw a place in the Essex house that had one. Tell the broker you want a full kitchen.
posted by brujita 07 June | 13:41
Saw it in person- definitely a full-sized dishwasher and NOT a full-sized stove. It had 4 burners but they were scrunched and the oven was teeny. The layout of the apartment overall didn't thrill me- a little on the small side, probably better for one person than two. The building was very well cared for, though, and it did have elevator and laundry.

I like the broker I've been working with a lot, he's a very chill dude. And he knows all the supers (and Spanish!), so we go around visiting a number of places every time we go out. Today we saw the small stove place, two really nicely renovated studios that would be PERFECT were they 1-bedrooms and not studios with weenie little kitchens, and a really poorly cared for 1-bedroom that had filth everywhere including a fridge full of scary black mildew/mold.

Oh, AND we re-visited the ground floor unit of a building right around the corner from my office (SO so close). We put in an application for the 5th floor walk-up unit of this building last weekend, but didn't get it- were 2nd in line. I preferred the 5th floor unit to the ground floor unit, but on its own, the ground floor unit is very nice. Separate kitchen with amazing amount of counter and cabinet space (and full-sized stove!), decent sized living and bedroom, wood floors, two big closets, separate entrance from the rest of the building (for that and one other unit, which had a leash hanging outside their door). I called my Mom to get her advice and she's like, a nice ground floor? That sounds better than a 5th floor walk-up! And the lease is only a year, you can do anything for a year (says the Marine wife, so she would know- she certainly spent enough time in base housing). What the hell. They're processing our application for the unit now. It's the high end of what we were hoping to spend BUT I figure it evens out given that I wouldn't have to buy a monthly Metrocard being so close to work.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 07 June | 14:11
I had an appointment at 4:30 today (which means leaving work almost an hour early, after being out during lunch this afternoon) to see another apartment, but I cancelled. I'm exhausted. I just want to finish out the work day and go home.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 07 June | 15:09
So, anywhere in NYC (or just Manhattan?) it sounds like you need to work through a broker to rent living space. Is that true? What is the broker's cut?
posted by danf 07 June | 15:11
Depends on the neighborhood, I imagine, but it some (many?), it definitely helps. Like my guy, for instance, he knows all the supers and knows who to call to let get into buildings and knows what's available that I might like. It would take me all the time in the world to do that myself, plus I don't know Spanish, which would make things difficult with supers that don't speak English. Generally with brokers, you're paying anywhere from 1 month's rent to 15% of the annual rent.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 07 June | 15:15
Finding places at the low end of the budget kinda sucks as well, especially when it comes to roommate searches. At least with a higher budget, it makes sense to use a broker and/or go through Street I love their apartment-finding tools, especially how the system will email you automatically whenever anything matches your saved search is recently listed or goes off the market. It was a tool I used a lot as an executive assistant to a broker, and I'm using it for my own search for an apartment for me and my boyfriend.

To danf: A broker's cut is typically 15% of an annual lease, paid by the renter. In some situations, you can have it negotiated to where the owner pays half or part, or you can negotiate the percentage down if you did most of the work in finding the apartment and the only thing the broker did was open the door.
posted by TrishaLynn 07 June | 15:16
I'm on both sides of the coin right now. We are trying to rent out the home we live in while looking for housing 6000 miles away (I'm ballparking that figure). Trying to find people to live in our house (no undergrads, no smokers) while trying to find the right apartment overseas is more of a daunting task than I had anticipated.

On preview, TPS, that apartment sounds awesome! Indeed living close to work and saving on transportation is A Very Big Deal. Your mother's advice is sage. If you don't like it, it's just a year.
posted by msali 07 June | 15:33
My mother's advice is often sage! She called me this morning to see how the search was going, said she and my grandmother were looking at my Facebook this morning. Grammy is a big-time Facebook creeper; she never comments but she sees EVERYTHING.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 07 June | 15:50
The broker calls with good news! We are all but guaranteed an apartment in the building near work, either the ground floor unit I saw today, OR possibly that 5th floor walk-up that might still be available. LET THIS BE THE END OF MY JOURNEY.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 07 June | 15:59
oooh! fingers crossed this works out for you, TPS!!
posted by gaspode 07 June | 16:26
(and stynx, of course :) )
posted by gaspode 07 June | 16:26
posted by mdonley 07 June | 16:28
Sounds promising, TPS. 5th floor's a lot of stairs (you won't need a stairmaster!), but the 1st floor makes me nervous. Does the ground floor place have window bars and security doors (screen doors with bars and inside key locks)? I assume it doesn't have an alarm system (or a doorman -- since it's a walk-up). One of the reasons I like our place is that there's no easy back or window access (unless you're spiderman), and an elderly Greek landlady on the second floor's better than a guard dog.

Maybe a large, nice studio would be enough. I'd kill for laundry and an elevator. It's tough when you fight, though. There's no place to go but the bathroom.

Anyhow, I'm sure it'll work out. Sounds like you're closing in on something.
posted by Pips 07 June | 16:41
That will be so nice to be close to work. You can sleep later in the mornings.
posted by LoriFLA 07 June | 17:25
Good luck on getting the apartment you want!

And yes, almost anything is tolerable for a year. We were in the RV for most of six years which was much longer than we wanted. But at least we had a decent roof over our heads and it was much, much better than the large, yet crappy apartment we were in for a few months.
posted by deborah 07 June | 17:45
Grammy is a big-time Facebook creeper; she never comments but she sees EVERYTHING.

Holy cow, that is really cute. Hi Grammy!
posted by msali 07 June | 20:28
Show us pics when you get the place! I love seeing people's homes.
posted by amro 08 June | 09:58
They are so grateful!! || Ambigrams