We continue to search for the right apartment to call home in New York City, and I’ll be honest: our fingernails are starting to look a little chewed. In the last week we’ve been on the brink of signing a lease, but setbacks continue.
I actually thought we’d found our match over the weekend… A dear friend went and looked at a place for us that looked fantastic – nice interior, good space, pretty good price, electricity included (no, really!) and so on. We actually gathered up our financial documents and were moments away from saying “send me a lease to sign.”
Then I started doing a little research online, and almost had a heart attack.
On multiple websites I found tenant testimonials about what a raging shithole the building is, in ways that wouldn’t have been apparent on a single mid-afternoon walk-through. In fact, one tenant specifically called out the fact that brokers schedule walk-throughs at specific times of day to avoid showing some of the worst problems.
I won’t go into a big long rant about the problems with the place, but I’ll quickly summarize: the building was originally Section-8 housing for low income families, and though they’ve made good efforts to renovate individual apartments and bring in new clientele, there are still lots of issues. Crime is apparently rampant IN THE BUILDING, including muggings, shootings, prostitution, and so on. Rats, cockroaches, and bedbugs abound… There’s a security desk for buzzing guests in, but apparently it’s next to useless, since they seem to routinely allow anyone in and aren’t helpful when there’s an actual security concern or a crime committed. The elevators are frequently out of service, leading to long lines at “rush hour” for people trying to get to and from work. And noise within the building is apparently a nightmare at night.
You can do a Google search for “1990 Lexington Ave” yourself if you’re curious, and you’ll find horror stories like these and more, but suffice it to say, it’s pretty bad. Multiple tenants (on multiple websites) explicitly warn over and over again not to move there. And in retrospect, I had to start to worry about deals seeming too good to be true.
So unfortunately we pulled back and had to keep searching… This is the latest in a series of disappointments, as apartments that we have looked at by very generous friends keep turning up to be too small, have outrageous broker fees that weren’t clearly disclosed upfront, or say that pets are fine but upon pressing reveal that dogs like ours aren’t allowed. It gets discouraging very quickly.
We actually had a couple of showings scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, but a savvy friend who knows the area well warned us that “East Williamsburg” is really just Bushwick under a more marketable name. She used to live in the area not long ago, and was able to recount some pretty unpleasant things about the neighborhood, the transportation (apparently the M train is horrible, especially on weekends) and the many, many times she had to call the cops because of things happening all around her. And there really isn’t much of anything immediately around the buildings, either for the dogs or for us, so we quickly decided that it wasn’t worth her time or our consideration. We know enough neighborhoods (and have enough friends who are in great areas to provide references) to be able to be a little more picky than that.
I’m not looking to replicate my cozy Charlotte existence in New York City. It would be nice to have the same amount of space, the same awesome neighbors, the same easy walk to tons of stuff, and most of all the same cost of living, but I’m realistic… However, I’m not DESPERATE to move to New York, and I definitely have a certain standard of living that I’m going to maintain. I need to be able to work from home in a RELATIVELY quiet environment, I need to be able to take the dogs outside regularly and safely, and I need to know that Sal has a reasonable chance of making it to the subway and back without being killed. (Oh, and I’d like my home to not be overrun by rats, cockroaches, and bedbugs please… Kthanks.)
I know that living in New York City is going to mean some sacrifice in space, some flexibility with neighborhoods, and some allowance for unpleasantness here and there. But c’mon now, there’s a limit to how much I’m willing to put up with… especially when there ARE good neighborhoods with nice buildings, decent apartments, good friends, and reasonably fun options for us and the dogs within a short walk. I KNOW they’re out there… we just have to be patient.
In fact, we may have a little light at the end of the tunnel already… But that’s another story.